Reforming "no-fault" divorce laws and changing tax policies to recognize the value of stay-at-home parents are just two ways that America can become a "family-centered" culture, authors of a new book say.
The United States struggles with family issues because it lost a "generally shared vision of what a family is," said Allan Carlson, co-author of "The Natural Family: A Manifesto," on Friday at a Heritage Foundation event.
The new book remedies this confusion with its "story of the family," Mr. Carlson said. It also contains 15 guiding principles about "authentic" and "natural" love, marriage and family formation; the value of childbearing and extended family; and the healthy interaction of family, work, service, community and a free, democratic civilization.
The book was written out of "a disturbing sense that we lost the culture war," said co-author Paul T. Mero, a former Capitol Hill aide who is now president of the Sutherland Institute in Salt Lake City.
The goal was to delve into the issues and develop intellectual doctrines that "might resuscitate the movement and reverse our losses," Mr. Mero said. It's an "anthem for the political, pro-family, conservative movement."
The manifesto was written by Mr. Carlson and Mr. Mero two years ago and expanded to a book-length version in time for this spring's World Congress of Families IV, held in Poland. Mr. Carlson, founder of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, inaugurated these international gatherings in 1997.
Mr. Mero said an important pro-family reform is to change divorce laws — including reintroduction of "fault" — for couples with minor children to ensure that families are not broken up for trivial reasons.
Mr. Carlson urged family-friendly tax policies, such as more generous tax exemptions for children and extending the child-care tax credit to a parent who stays home to care for their children.
There has been some criticism of the manifesto. In 2006, for instance, Thomas Coleman, executive director of Unmarried America, an information service for single adults, said it was "abnormal" and "sexist."
"Family diversity has become the norm," Mr. Coleman noted in an August column written in anticipation of "Unmarried and Single Americans Week," which runs Sept. 16 to Sept. 22.
According to Census Bureau data, 42 percent of U.S. adults, or 92 million, are unmarried.
About 44 percent of U.S. households — 50.7 million — are maintained by unmarried men or women, though this doesn't mean they live alone, the bureau notes.
The number of people who live alone is 30.5 million, or 27 percent of all households, the bureau says. This is a significant increase from the 17 percent of "live-alone" households in 1970.
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