Family values

Family values, sometimes referred to as familial values, are traditional or cultural values that pertain to the family’s structure, function, roles, beliefs, attitudes, and ideals.

In the social sciences and U.S. political discourse, the term “traditional family” refers to a nuclear family − a child-rearing environment composed of a breadwinning father, a homemaking mother, and their biological children; sociologists formerly referred to this model as the norm. A family deviating from this model is considered a nontraditional family. However, in most cultures at most times, the extended family model has been most common, not the nuclear family, and the nuclear family became the most common form in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s.

Definition

Several well-known online dictionaries define “family values” as the following:

  • “the moral and ethical principles traditionally upheld and passed on within a family, as honesty, loyalty, industry, and faith.”
  • “values especially of a traditional or conservative kind which are held to promote the sound functioning of the family and to strengthen the fabric of society.”
  • “values held to be traditionally learned or reinforced within a family, such as those of high moral standards and discipline.”

In politics

Familialism or familism is the ideology that puts priority on family and family values. Familialism prioritizes the needs of the family over the needs of individuals, and advocates for a welfare system where families, rather than the government, take responsibility for the care of their members.

In the United States, the banner of “family values” has been used by conservatives to fight abortion, gay rights, and major feminist objectives.

In culture

Saudi culture

Interpretations of Islamic teachings and Arab culture are common for the majority of Saudis. Islam is a driving cultural force that dictates a submission to the will of God. The academic literature suggests that the family is regarded as the main foundation of Muslim society and culture; the family structure and nature of the relationship between family members are influenced by the Islamic religion. Marriage in Saudi culture means the union of two families, not just two individuals. In Muslim society, marriage involves a social contract that occurs with the consent of parents or guardians. Furthermore, marriage is considered the only legitimate outlet for sexual desires, and sex outside marriage (fornication) is a crime that is punished under Islamic law. This view of marriage is similar to the Western Christian view of marriage, created in 12th century France, which promised salvation, sex without sin, and much more.

The Saudi family includes extended families, as the extended family provides the individual with a sense of identity. The father is often the breadwinner and protector of the family, whereas the mother is often the homemaker and the primary caretaker of the children. Parents are regarded with high respect, and children are strongly encouraged to respect and obey their parents. Often, families provide care for elders. Until recently, because families and friends are expected to provide elderly care, nursing homes were considered culturally unacceptable..

United States culture

In sociological terms, nontraditional families make up the majority of American households. As of 2014, only 46% of children in the U.S. live in a traditional family, down from 61% in 1980. This number includes only families with parents who are in their first marriage, whereas the percentage of children simply living with two married parents is 65% as of 2016. However, there are many who hold that the nuclear family is the fabric that holds society together and work to promote stronger family values. The Chemin Neuf community, the Bruderhof, and the Evangelical Alliance all work to promote the nuclear family.

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