‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Judge Mental on broken families

Even though he is a judge, and an expert in dealing with the results of family breakup, Mr Justice Coleridge will be panned for observations like these:

"... almost all of society's social ills can be traced directly to the collapse of the family life."

"I am not saying every broken family produces dysfunctional children, but I am saying that almost every dysfunctional child is the product of a broken family. "

He's not wrong. I'm the last to hug a hoodie, but you have to know why they're like that. Knowing the causes doesn't make them any better; the point is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In years of teaching children in social services care, and children excluded from mainstream education, I don't recall knowing even one case where the child came from a hard-working, addiction-free, two-parent family.

By the way: to what extent is the government fanning the flames, with its tax-greedy promotion of alcohol, its popularity-seeking liberality on drugs law enforcement, and its negligent attitude to employment (especially, I hesitantly suggest - expecting to get it in the neck for saying so - full-time employment for men)?

But it's not just about keeping the parents together. There needs to be a commitment to nurturing the child emotionally: squabbling parents who want the child to take sides make a deep and enduring split in the child's psyche. No law, judge or social worker is going to remedy that; putting the child first should be a screamingly obvious moral point. But who is allowed to make it? "Musn't be judgmental."

Oh yes, we must. Watch the American Judge Judy on Freeview when the subject of children, marriage and responsibility comes up. She did many years in family court, and she doesn't have any time for the mealy-mouthed approach.


AntiCitizenOne said...

Would not making it harder to get married work equally well?

Sackerson said...

The Judge Mental bit is to acknowledge the role of other people's expectations in maintaining the commitment.

But there's also a deeply exploitative element in making women have children while insisting that you don't need that "piece of paper." And all that b-ll-cks about "can't afford to get married" - a register ofice wedding and a drink at the pub after are within anyone's reach.

And palimony etc has obscured the distinction. It's a giant mess that suits only lawyers and social workers.

Maybe we should start by focusing on married-with-children, and have-children-get-married. A child's heart is not nourished by Child Support.

Anonymous said...

All excellent sentiments but every indicator, and every trend, shows society drifting further and further into dysfunctionality. I'm sure we could come up with a million policies to nudge society in the other direction, but everything tried so far has failed, and I see no prospect of any initiative reversing this unstoppable trend.

What it will take is something major. War? Islamification of the west? A second great depression?

Not attractive options, but all three are possible.

AntiCitizenOne said...

Maybe we could STOP paying people to have children?

RobW said...

The key here is not state based policies. The state has to get out of the way. And let people look after themselves.

Until people have to take responsibility for themselves nothing will improve.

Sackerson said...

Sadly, gents, I feel you may be right: behaviour will change when there is a strong survival motive.

Anonymous said...

"... almost all of society's social ills can be traced directly to the collapse of the family life." and far and away the biggest contributor to this collapse is family court that exclusively rewards dysfunction and punishes responsible behaviour.

Today Judge Judy panders to the audiences sensibilities now that her court is public. She has destroyed more families than one can imagine in family court as have most family court judges. Rather than treat both parents equally, a perversion of both law and protective measures is used to render a family into the most intractable situation from which there is no recovery; however, it is only damage of this kind that will transfer the maximum wealth from the family to the parasites in these "services".

As everyone should know with the destruction of families, we give rise to greater social decay. We are daily witnesses to the high cost of violence and truancy in fatherless communities, but what an employer social decay has become. More police, therapists, first responders, lawyers, judges, court staff, social workers, service agencies, women shelter workers, psychologists, health care workers, grief counselors, teachers, surrogate fathers, CAS, CPS, FRO, the list never ends. If not already, social decay can be expected to become the single largest industry in this country. Even if you are not directly involved in these disasters, we all pay with a lower standard of living, disillusioned youth and suffering families.

Sackerson said...

Have to agree with your general drift, Anon, even though I don't know anything to Judge Judy's detriment. Shame you're anonymous, you make your point well.

Unknown said...

May I contribute to the debate as a woman...?

I am almost shocked to hear myself thinking these things nowadays, as an erstwhile feminist sympathiser in my younger days.

But, as a mother of grown, happy, healthy children and as a mother who worked extraordinarily hard to be both a mother AND a career woman...it doesn't work...it does not work to expect women to work full-time and bring up children. Children need at least one full-time parent.

Successive governments' economic strategies to force mothers out to paid employment is, in my strong opinion, at the heart of all this dysfunction. These administrations, votecatching and pandering to strident voices from all sides of the debate, imagined that they were 'saving money' at the time.

Wrong. Very shortsighted. What's happened is that the costs have been shunted down the line to the future. Society is now paying the price of these short term 'savings'.

Sackerson said...

"Deb", I think you're right: another case where not all the costs have been taken into account. I'm sure the fact that my mother was home-based (and we were NOT well-off financially, far from it) made a huge difference, especially for my brother.

fake consultant said...

as regards the desire to find men full-time employment...

there are at least two reasons why ensuring women have equal access to that same full-time employment makes good sense:

--so many mothers are single mothers...and there is nothing to be gained by preventing them access to well-paying jobs.

it's possible to make these women into taxpayers, if attention is paid to education and childcare issues; and that's a process you don't want to impede if it can be helped.

--many families are today, by necessity, two-income families. with the cost of every single thing in the world going up all at once, that need for a second income will be increasing, not decreasing.

preventing families from breaking up makes good sense, as does preventing pregnancies that result in single-parent families...but making it tougher for women to find full-time employment to the benefit of men is probably not good for today's single moms--or today's taxpayer, for that matter.

Sackerson said...

Hi, FC: it's a tough call, but from what I've seen, unemployed men below middle age tend to become depressed, destructive and self-destructive parasites. This is another question of trying to factor in all the costs.

Unknown said...

It's hard to discern what's chicken and egg in this debate.

Sticking with the basics, we all know intuitively (we don't have to have statistics to tell us) that family life in the West has deteriorated since the '70s.

I certainly agree that no one who wants paid employment should be denied equal opportunities. But let's look at the effects of wholesale employment 'liberation' on c. half the population:

- it meant that employers could reduce wages - simple supply and demand. Thus ensuring that the traditional breadwinner's sole family income was eroded. A spiral of reducing income/increasing financial need forced more people (generally women) out into the job market.

- let's be honest and accept that women still take the bigger♠ share of domestic tasks (in general, staistical terms, guys! I do know that there are lots of men who do their share). Believe me, this is such a big pressure. This has to have an impact on quality of marriage/partnership relationship.

I've lost count of the number of my female contemporaries who have divorced their men. Not because they were heinous abusers or whatever, but because they felt they were carrying the whole load and they felt they'd rather go it alone without all the rows than carry another grown up as well as 2 or 3 kids, homemaking and a full time career.

So then comes all the custody/alimony fighting - which has an effect on the kids. Then there's all the toing and froing that the kids must do. New partners, change of residence, new schools, reduced parent contact time with both parents etc etc.

All in all, it's not surprising that a couple of generations of children have grown up to be badly behaved and an additional drain on public resources.

Goodness, I'm sounding so reactionary! Believe me, it's a complete volte face from where I was when my kids were growing up! It's that, in hindsight, I can see that we were ALL, men and women, manipulated and exploited by a system that had very little regard for families and quality of life - it just needed cheap workers.

And there's another element - I definitely would have had a couple more children if I hadn't had to work. There must be many millions of women who could say this. Instead, now most Western countries are having to import massive numbers of workers (with all the massive problems this brings) because indigenous populations have not been able to renew themselves.

I don't believe that making more and more women work (no matter how many state 'supports' there are in place) to contribute taxes is the answer. Functional families contribute far more than can ever be measured in our beancounter society. They've been ignored to the detriment of all. QED.

In short, it's a social engineering debacle - selling the future for short term profit.

But, hey! It makes heaps of jobs for (mostly female) social workers, lawyers, care workers, nursery workers, counsellors, admin workers. All of whom are lowly paid (yes even lawyers in family law are low paid). And so the cycle continues.

Sackerson said...

Deb, thanks, a really useful and lenghty contribution. I said years ago that we've gone from the two-job family to the three-job, i.e. two for money and one running the home and family. And buying houses on that basis means that only the best paid can do it all on one income.

Unknown said...

Oooops! Didn't realise I'd written so much!

I guess that I am 'activated' by this particular issue, as I am now sure that the socially engineered destruction of the family for profit is behind all this societal mayhem. And it's personally affected my family and many others I know.

Really good way of describing it - from two to three jobs.I reckon that bringing up a family is the most important job anyone can do!

I mean, just look at the mess we have now - even the gvt has all these Surestart programmes to teach parents how to parent...but you can't parent if you don't have the time, can you?!