Is the family still relevant in today’s society?
Questions on family policy in modern Western societies.
First of all let me express my heartest greetings from Austria - a country which is very similar to Switzerland. In Austria, as well as in Switzerland, family still enjoys a very high status in society. It is very interesting that this high status can be found especially among young people.
I am very happy and grateful to be here with you today and to share some of my ideas of family policy.
My views are based on the Christian value system, its view of the world as well as its idea of human life. In large part, these positions are also reflected in the programme of the « Christian Party of Austria » (CPÖ = Christliche Partei Österreichs).
As chairman of the Christian Party of Austria I am convinced that strong families stand for a strong country. A strong country needs strong families. I mean that a healthy developed society is substantially based on strong and healthy developed families. When I was a candidate for the elections for the Austrian Presidency in 2010 many people supported that view and since then I received a lot of positive reactions. It is something that many people can share and believe in, all over the world. Family is the nucleus of each community, of ones country and of the state itself.
As already mentioned above – it can be observed - not only in one’s personal environment but also documented by scientific studies and opinion surveys - that young people in Austria wish for family and friendship, for the feeling of security and belonging. This situation will be similar in many European countries. What children expect from their families is security, stability and support.
My political party describes itself as a Party for families with clear positions on this fundamental question of human society.
How do I define the term "family"?
- First, family is the coexistence of at least two generations in a single family unit.
- Second, family is based on the marriage between a man and a woman aiming at children. Family is irreplaceable as a social role model.
- Third, family is more than a mere juridical, social and economic unit. It forms a community of love and solidarity and is uniquely suited to teach and impart cultural, ethical, social, spiritual or religious values.
The future of our society depends largely on the family. Family needs once again become a concrete vision, a concrete objective for people in our Western societies. An objective being worth every effort – especially investing our time, energy and heart!
Forward-looking policy, aiming at balancing liberty and security, also has to encourage and enhance prestige of family and parenthood. For a society built on a family scale is the best guarantee against drifting off course into individualism or collectivism, because within the family the person is always at the centre of attention, as a person and never as a means.
Our most important political demands are:
- Considering family mainstreaming instead of gender mainstreaming for all family policies.
Gender Mainstreaming is an ideology resulting in the dissolution of family and ignoring the living together of families based on mutual respect, trust and support. Naturally, many people do not consider the relationship between man and woman as a positive and complementary one, but see it in a negative way. In my opinion, the main issue among many other reasons is the instrumentalisation of women against men. The relationship between men and women is defined as a means of might or control. Today it would be important not to emphasize the battle of the sexes but the combination of two different aspects, apparently showing large differences. Men and women are equal but not identical. The battle of the sexes is therefore essentially wrong, for not fighting, but cooperation and partnership is the key. A strong and stable relationship between man and woman in marriage is the foundation for a happy family.
- Recognition of family work as a full-fledged profession and appropriate financial compensation.
A new dynamic concept of work is required, also appreciating the efforts provided by families.
The contribution of family work to a country’s gross national product (GNP) ranges about 40% – for instance: the contribution of German car industry to the GNP is only about 9%.
- Establishment of a genuine choice between parental and external childcare.
- Education policy encouraging parents’ responsibility and accepting parents as the first and preferential educators of their children.
« Less nannies – more parents! »
- Parent Suffrage, providing parents with additional votes for their children. It means more influence on political decisions by families.
- Intergenerational fairness.
It is our opinion, that «Having children should not cause poverty.»
Generation balance and generation politics, not only focussing the youth or the elderly people, but for all generations.
With these considerations on modern and contemporary family politics, I appeal to you:
Live as a family!
Show other people and demonstrate society that family is an ideal way and a way of life everybody should experience and like to participate.
Family and society are organically connected with each other. Families serve to defend and promote the welfare of mankind, they guarantee peace!
God bless our families!
Author: Mr Rudolf Gehring
Former Chair Christian Party of Austria