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How pulling families apart pulled us together

POSTED August 9, 2018 4:19 a.m.
As we reflect back on the horrible situation of separating kids from their parents at the Mexican border that has played out over the past few months, we see one silver lining for a country that is increasingly divided and contentious.

It shows that our country as a whole is still united and unpolitical when it comes to families and to our strong feelings about the importance and sacredness of the bond between parents and their children.

We can be divided and polarized on everything from guns to environment and from health care to tax policy. But when it comes to things related to the most basic institution of society — to our families and the importance of the relationship between kids and their moms and dads — we are pretty united.

When we see images of kids crying out for their moms or being pulled in one direction while their parents are taken in another, we know that it is wrong. And when we see moms and dads taking care of their children and of each other and families laughing and loving together, we know that it is right. No one has to know anyone’s politics or party to decide if we agree.

For once, you could flip back and forth between MSNBC and Fox News and hear the talking heads saying the same thing — that whatever our laws are, there is a higher law when it comes to taking kids away from their parents.

It is morally and culturally and practically wrong to separate children from their parents, which is the flip side of the fact that it is important and right for parents and kids to be together and for us to understand that families are the most basic and fundamental unit of society.

This may be the one issue where we can all rise above politics and partisan rhetoric and agree on a moral issue even when we can’t agree on economic or political issues.

As we travel speaking to families and parents — in more than 50 countries and in every imaginable kind of governmental and political and economic system — we find that all the differences fade away when we are focused on our families and our children.

Irrespective of the vast differences in where and how people live and in who they affiliate with and even in what they believe, there is very little difference between people when you get down to what they want for their children, and to their hopes and fears regarding their kids, their marriages and their families.

And here in this country, whether people are Democrats or Republicans, whether they are pro-Trump or anti-Trump, whether they live in red states or blue states, whether they think of themselves as conservatives or liberals — no matter how divided they are, they generally agree on the priority of family, on the importance of keeping kids with their parents, and on the concept that the roles and functions of a family can’t be taken over or performed adequately by some other, larger institution.

It is on those fundamental, family-centric things that we are all in basic agreement, and that should give us all hope for the future.

Sometimes it takes seeing something that is wrong to make us focus on what is right.

Oh, and by the way, if any group of parents deserves to have their children kept with them, it is immigrant parents because they make such an effort to keep their families together.

The Institute of Family Studies reports “the latest figures from Census Bureau on the family living arrangements of U.S. children show that 75 percent of immigrant children live in married-couple families, compared to 61 percent of children of U.S.-born parents."

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