- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My old friend Ross put up this Facebook post yesterday: “Can someone explain to me the media/public obsession with the Kardashians?”

You’re probably thinking, Does your friend Ross live in a cave?

Nope. He’s a public relations guy who spent about 20 years as an assignment editor in a TV newsroom.

Suffice to say his post generated plenty of feedback. Mostly, his Facebook friends shared his dismay that the Kardashians are now an iconic American family.

Having never met them - OK, having never actually watched an entire E! Entertainment news story about them - I can’t comment on the Kardashians personally. I’m sure Kim, Khloe and Kourtney are as lovely as they seem.

What’s disconcerting about the Kardashian craze (or would that be “kraze”?) in the aftermath of Kim Kardashian’s lavish Saturday nuptials to NBA player Kris Humphries (again with the “K” names) is the statement it makes about marriage in America.

It appears that marriage is about weddings. And weddings are about rich people.

The Kardashian/Humphries wedding is expected to generate more than $17 million in earnings for the couple, thanks to a deal they made with E! Entertainment Television to air the ceremony and reception in a two-part TV special.

For most folks, weddings fall into the “expense” column. For these folks, it was a business venture.

The circus surrounding this spectacle (Headline: “Kim Kardashian Wedding Inspires Gold Commemorative Coin”) is likely only to reinforce the opinion of 40 percent of Americans who now believe marriage, as an institution, is obsolete.

That alarming statistic is only one that I cite in my new book, “Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom.” (Regnery Publishing, released yesterday. Hey, if the Kardashians can engage in shameless self-promotion, why not a lowly columnist?)

The reality is that traditional families - those formed around a husband and wife who remain married for life, and that include their biological children - are increasingly on the decline.

According to a Pew Research Center 2010 study, only about half of all American adults are married, down from 72 percent in 1960. Moreover, marriage is a luxury fewer people can afford. The Pew study shows a 16 percent gap in marriage rates between those with a college education and those with a high school diploma or less. In 1940, that gap was only 4 percent.

The Pew study also revealed that young Americans accept “new” forms of families and generally define a “family” by the presence of children. Married with kids, unmarried with kids, gay couples with kids, as well as married couples without children all are considered by a majority of those surveyed to meet the definition of a “family.” The only scenario that doesn’t is unmarried without children.

Why does this matter?

Because the family is the foundation of any society. Not the “new” family, but the old-fashioned kind, with lifelong married couples who have children, educate them, raise them in the practice of a faith, and become grandparents, planting seeds and growing roots in their communities and thus creating the infrastructure of civil society.

As open-minded as we seem to want to be about the nature of “family,” the truth is that while some relationships may feel close, as societal anchors, they miss the mark.

Our media gives us very few examples of healthy, wholesome, traditional families. We certainly can’t look at the Kardashian-Humphries union as anything more than a marriage-for-media, further proof that the institution devised by God for our well-being and for the benefit of children has been undermined beyond recognition.

But not Mrs. Kardashian-Humphries, according to this headline: “Kim Kardashian’s brow expert reveals pre-wedding brow-shape countdown.”

If only the shape of family life in America got as much attention.

c Marybeth Hicks is the author of “Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom.” Find her on the web at http://marybethhicks.com.

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