by Georgia Gallagher
Since the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013, there has been much controversy and debate surrounding it. Maybe this controversy is deserved since one of their missions is to disassemble family units.
If you visit the Black Lives Matter website, you’ll find a variety of things. Pictures of smiling young men and women, a tab asking for financial support, a spot to receive updates; it’s a fairly normal looking activism website.
What you’ll find on their About tab, however, paints a whole different picture of the movement. It reads:
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.
A nuclear family structure can be defined as a family that consists of father, mother and children, when it is thought of as a unit in society, according to the Oxford Dictionary.
This idea of a nuclear family is one that’s quite familiar to us. We see them every day on television, in books, and walking down the streets of our neighborhoods.
While it may be true that these our families look this way because of widely accepted cultural norms, it’s not a coincidence that The Simpsons, The Cosby Show and so many others feature nuclear families. Most sociologists and psychologists agree that the nuclear family has the most benefits out of every family structure.
Sociologists Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur wrote years ago about the nuclear family and the many positives that come from it. Two-parent households allow for checks and balances between disciplining children, access to the time and income of two adults instead of just one, and two connections to the children. McLanahan and Sandefur argue that these connections to the children increase the “likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child, and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child.”
According to Sarah Schoppe, a family psychologist, children that are raised in two-parent households are less likely to have behavior problems. “Relationships within the two-parent family are more structurally balanced,” Schoppe stated in her Journal of Family Psychology. Schoppe and other psychologists have found that two-parent households generally follow a “good cop, bad cop” structure, allowing for checks and balances in the discipline of their children. Thus, children are being punished in more fair, less abusive ways, increasing their mental health and happiness levels.
Jacqueline Sperling, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School has extensively looked at the development of children who spend more time playing with their parents growing up. “Family members socialize children to regulate their emotions by direct modeling and through their responses to child displays of emotions,” she cites in her observational study of family life. Two-parent households generally mean that there is at least one parent with free time in the evenings and on the weekends. This means that the child will spend less time with a babysitter or nanny, and more times developing through contact with their parents.
Further, financial security can provide families with a safe environment where they can develop together without fear of homelessness or hunger. Many nuclear family units are dual-income households, making financial security more easily achieved. Researchers at the University of South Hampton agree that the likelihood of having a mental health problem is three times higher among people who have debt.
“Financial security provides a “safety net” in the event of job loss, illness, or other emergencies,” Judith Cook, in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago stated. This safety net gives families more room to take vacations, buy luxury items and do other things that increase the overall quality of life for the family. A higher quality of life can lead the family to having stronger, more open relationships as well as causing the family to worry less about meeting their daily needs.
When a child’s initial needs–such as food, water, and shelter–are met, the child is more likely to get involved at school and in extracurricular activities. The child has less worries about their basic needs so they have more energy to focus on hobbies that later develop into passions.
Research shows that only 40% of children who grow up among the bottom 25% of earners are read to more than three times a week. Nearly 70% of children in the top 25% are read to three times a week or more. Researchers also believe that being read to at home helps to develop children significantly in their early years. Children who are being read to at home often learn to read more quickly, thus increasing their capacity for learning at an early age. This research continues to show the difference between the top and bottom 25% of earners and how the amount of money their families bring in can affect their respective upbringings, and ultimately their futures.
When Black Lives Matter sets out in a war against the nuclear family unit, you have to stop and wonder why this is. If Black Lives Matter is truly about progressing black people to the highest levels of success and happiness, that needs to start at home. Black Lives Matter is continuing to ignore decades of statistics and data that prove the worthiness of the nuclear family unit as they work to further their own agenda. Dismantling traditional family units and opting for what Black Lives Matter calls a “black village” isn’t going to have the positive affect that they hope for, and will only continue to hurt the black community, rather than uplift them.
Georgia Gallagher is a 2018 Summer Fellow.