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The 1950 s, perhaps, were no better stereotypically defined then by the show Leave it to Beaver. The life and times of Ward and June Cleaver, two kids, a housewife, a hard working middle class man, and the house in the suburbs. Time to get back to reality, and to the year 2000. Our notion of family values has changed a lot since the time of the 1950 s, for better and for worse. Things that were inconceivable just years ago are now a reality. You have to look at the rolls of parents and children in a system of changing relationships and values to see just how far we have come, and where we need to go in the next millennium.

Today almost every family in America is a two-income household. The life of June Cleaver is not completely gone but it is dramatically different then it was 40 years ago. Today women face the issues of balancing career, family, and other various household duties. The practicality of staying home to raise the kids isn t what it once was, and this in turn has brought a dramatic change in the roll of the mother and wife. Is this a bad thing? Certainly not, recent numbers are showing that it is possible for a woman to have a self-fulfilling career and maintain her family life. A thought, that was almost once inconceivable to many Americans just some 30 or 40 years ago.

At the same time, however, the role of Ward Cleaver isn t what it was in 1950 s. Today a typical husband and father spends more time with his kids then ever before. He probably works more hours then in the 1950 s and at the same time has an ever-changing role in his family. A classic example of this is the on going situation in Great Britain, where Prime Minister Tony Blair might actually take paternity leave to spend time with his wife and new born child. Certainly in previous generations it was rare for a man to take time off to spend with his newborn child and recovering wife, but times they are a changing . This is the best example of family values changing for a good cause. To say a woman was directly responsible for the up bringing of the children is a primitive thought. Today our value system has evolved enough so we can bring ourselves to terms that it is the responsibility of both parents to take care of the children and to take care of your wife after labor.

Kids like Wally and the Bev certainly no longer exist in a modern sense. According to recent surveys, by the time they reach twelve, the average child has witnessed more then 10,000 deaths on television. Recent events at Columbine High School, and just recently in the Michigan Grade School, have lead people to call for more gun laws. Maybe the focus should be on the families. It goes to show even the most innocent members of society, the children, are slowly losing their innocence. Would Dillon Klebold be making homemade explosives in the basement and garage of our own houses growing up? Probably not. Ever increasing amounts of children are growing up where the value systems just aren t in place to know any better or to comprehend their own actions.

With the development of this changing notion of the family since really the mid to late 1970 s, other consequences have also developed. Today for the first time in nearly 20 years the divorce rate is below 50% according to the census. After the whole Clinton ordeal, Americans, like never before, are taking a look at the values that apply to them and their families. A recent Gallup poll revealed that nearly 76% of the American people are concerned with the moral direction of the country. Certainly no one is advocating a return to a woman s place is in the home or the day I almost accidentally hugged my father but one of parental advocacy and personal responsibility. It may not be possible for parents to keep track of all their child s activities. It is common sense parenting to know if your kids are making explosives in the basement, or if your eight-year-old is playing highly violent video games.

Things are looking up for family values at the same time. Just this March voters in California defined marriage as legally between a man and a woman, ensuring the institution of marriage will have as much meaning for us and our children as it did to our grandparents. More and more parents are turning off South Park and taking their children to the library. Even extramarital affairs are down according to a Washington Post Pop survey. So things are changing in a good way, all be it very slowly. It s too simplified to say that we need to go back to the Good Ol Days , but it s not unrealistic to say our family values in a time of changing roles between spouses, parents and children, community and families are finally improving.

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