I think Scott's comments on the family are a great way to start this new season of blogging. I marvel at how central to society and the passing on of values is, and how we accomplish this with no training apart from what we pick up from our own parents and peers who are a little ahead of us in parenting. It is amazing how deeply the values of the family are embedded in us.
I think a lot about the fact that values that are highly visible and talked about are malleable, but the deep values are profoundly embedded, probably because we do not talk about them very much. Thus, it is not uncommon to see individuals whose political values differ from their parents because talking about politics tends to make the influence of peers stronger than that of parents when you reach late adolescence or adulthood. But the things we don't talk much about, such as when is it appropriate to respond in anger, do we always speak the truth, is it permissible to stand up friends, etc. are matters we learn from our families in a powerful way.
It is curious that in most of American Protestantism, the high value of the family has been assumed so much that I don't know that we did a great deal to defend the family conceptually until the crises of the last 30 years. I marvel that the Catholic Church has consistently taught about this though.
I remember back about ten years ago when it became common to initiate single parent adoptions, often largely because of women who did not want the hassles of a long term commitment to a husband, but still really wanted to raise a child. I think most of us disapproved of that, but didn't talk about it much. While there are times where I think adoption of a child by a single person might be good, such as when a close single relative could best raise a child where both parents have died, for the most part, this is an indulgence that we should have opposed vociferously.