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July 6, 2023

There's an old Japanese proverb that says, "It is easier to rule a kingdom than to regulate a family." I don't know who said this, but as someone who's done both (though I'd hardly call Arkansas a kingdom), I can say with absolute certainty that he was right.

I'll bet you've never thought of your family as a government. But when you get right down to it, it's the form of government that matters most, much more than Congress or your state legislature or even your neighborhood block association. Get your family right and its strength will wind its way up to the highest levels of global power. Of course, the reverse is also true: When the family fails, so do the other organizing structures around it.

Why does a person commit a heinous crime - use a deadly weapon to rob someone, vandalize a school, rape a woman, murder a hapless victim for twenty dollars, or steal millions from investors (perhaps including friends and relatives) in a Ponzi scheme? Are these acts caused by incomprehensible wickedness? Are these people just plain bad? No, it's really very simple.

These are people who failed to grasp or were never offered the simplest lessons of self-discipline, respect for others, and a strong sense of human decency. And where should those lessons be taught and learned? It's not the job of a school, a workplace, or even a church to provide these most basic of life lessons (though we shouldn't forget about them there either – or ban them from schools and workplaces, as some people are trying to do.) Besides, even when we do rely on institutions for these lessons, they usually fail.

No, these lessons cannot be taught by a teacher, boss, or minister. In order to create truly valuable and respectful citizens, these lessons need to be taught at home. By the time we enter school or start a job, we should have already learned how to behave. I'm not usually a pessimist, as you probably know, but I'm afraid that if a child has not learned to behave by age four or so, he or she never will.

When I was a child and did something my mother found objectionable, she'd say, with some exasperation, "Were you raised by wolves?” Of course (being objectionable), my immediate inclination was to whip back a smart-aleck answer like "No, ma'am. I got it from you!"

But I never did because I knew that the wolf in her would come out and probably chew me out. Plus, I knew what she meant: This was her way of reminding me that I was supposed to try to achieve a certain level of civil behavior. I might even demonstrate a notable difference from animals in the wild by using a napkin, saying a blessing before diving into a plate of food, or washing up before sitting down to eat. Such civilized rules of courtesy, kindness, and unselfishness were expected of me not merely so that I could get what I wanted but because, quite simply, they were right.

To this day, I try to behave the way my mother wanted me to - not because I'm afraid of being grounded (my wife does that now), but because she taught me the difference between right and wrong and showed me by example how to behave. These principles originate, of course, from the family.

Okay, let me say it before you do: No family is perfect, and even children raised in wonderful families can turn out to be like wolves. We’ve all seen the stories about gang members or looters who get arrested and wish the cops had held them in protective custody in jail when their furious mamas show up to drag them home by the ear.

Still, it makes sense that children nurtured with rules are far more likely to follow them than those given free rein to follow their most primal instincts of "self first, others second." In the national ongoing conversation about how to change "government" and make "society" better, I rarely hear a reference to the obvious starting place: the creation and nurturing of functioning families, in which a mother and a father bring up their offspring with the understanding that the older generation is training the younger to be their replacements.

On this issue, as on so many others, I cast my lot with Ronald Reagan, who said, "The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation of our freedom."

It should surprise no one - certainly it would not have surprised President Reagan - that those who now want to "transform" traditional America recognize this truth from the opposite direction and have placed the American family smack in the crosshairs. You know this. You see it every day, from the many attempts at sexualizing children to schools welcoming drag queens and Satanist clubs to teachers indoctrinating students with radical gender and political propaganda while telling them not to talk to their parents about it (underlying message: your parents are your enemy, the government is your friend.)

Recently, thanks to loose lips on social media, we’ve actually heard teachers boasting that they own our children, not their parents. They see it as their mission to separate children from parents as early as possible, so that they can fill kids’ heads with nonsense about socialist utopias and racial and gender identities instead of parents passing down traditional morality, patriotism and religious faith. One of the few silver linings of the pandemic was that, thanks to online classes, parents saw to their horror what schools were telling kids when they thought their parents weren’t listening.

America-hating leftists know that it’s the father/mother/children family structure that’s made this nation the most powerful and prosperous in the history of the world, and that’s precisely why the family is under assault today as never before.

As parents and even grandparents, what can we do? Simple. We fight back. It won’t be an easy fight in an age when a thoroughly corrupt and politicized Justice Department tries to tar concerned parents as “domestic terrorists.” But it’s a fight that parents have to wage and must win. Recent legal victories, like those over Loudoun County, Virginia’s, out of control school board, prove that the battle can be won.

What happens in our day to the traditional family will determine whether we stop the slide and remain a morally healthy nation of self-reliant families, for the most part, or continue degenerating into a decadent welfare state of shattered, chaotic, and dependent families.

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Comments 1-10 of 29

  • Elizabeth Houghton

    08/05/2023 03:26 PM

    Your analysis is hits the target squarely in the center! I do believe there is actual evil in this world, driven by an evil being. Those who are attempting to push the family aside are doing that being's evil work, not knowing whose bidding they follow. Sharing Jesus Christ with the world is the only solution.

  • Lynn Shortman

    07/28/2023 08:48 AM

    Great article, Governor. A good reminder for me.

  • Oleda Williams

    07/09/2023 08:02 PM

    Some of us fell down on the job as a christian conservatives. We thought we were doing what we should have, we thought we were involved in our childs schools, and their curriculum, what was taught. We thought we were asking our child the right questions about school. We were distracted, we didnt listen close enough, we were quite alert enough, because I discovered too late apparently what has been taught for years to our children, brought to the surface by the pandemic lockdown, and Moms who paid attention and heard, the propaganda being spewed by some teachers! For this I have regret but I cant un ring a bell, but through persistent prayer and faith, there can be a mighty moral commonsense turnaround, repentance and recover that time lost through spiritual means by the shed blood of the lamb. It's not too late, fight this in your schools!

  • Ed Thompson

    07/08/2023 09:09 AM

    Children grow up to be a reflection of their environment, family, friends, neighbors, neighborhood, social environment, education, experiences, etc. THE MOST influential,the most important person in a child’s life is the mother— and if she’s not there then the job falls on the shoulders of the father. Everyone has a mother AND a father, at least that’s how it works to make a child. Honest look it up. Two men can NOT EVER make a baby—same goes for two women— don’t care what the wok says, it ain’t happening,ever. But what about what happens after a child comes into the world, when both parents are removed from their lives for whatever reason. We have to make sure no child no matter what happens gets an education that gives them skills to learn how to read and write and do things like use their hands and minds for good purposes to earn them a living without getting into trouble. A good paying job can change a person’s life for the better and we as a society need to stop handing out “free lunch’s” in the form of welfare and start making education the priority for our children. And in the process we need to make sure that the people teaching the children are not teaching other things like radical socialism or perverse science or political ideology. Stick with fundamentals and common sense values. Stop wasting time and money on radical religious nonsense and fictional medical ideology. Teaching skills is what’s needed for everyone. Give a child a sense of wellbeing that they are capable and important and they will grow up to be responsible adults who add value to society.

  • Jack Johnson

    07/07/2023 02:14 PM

    It was the family teaching Christian beliefs and ethics that made this nation the most blessed in the world not just the fact of the family. Your article states this in a round about way. But you left Christ out of your conclusion.

  • Mary K

    07/07/2023 01:50 PM

    No two families are the same. When your parents are children in the first world war and adults in the second; your upbringing is not going to be pretty. As a junior taking yourself to the doctor you don't expect to hear "someone has tried to kill you" . ostrasized and kept poor with every Tom, Dick and Harry believing they can do whatever they want without consequence. And they did. That's after having my first child at five years old due to rape by two catholic priests. THis isn't even the worst of it.
    At four I asked other kids where could I find God. Despite the rapes, my Christian faith is the most empowering ......... comfort, joy and peace in abundance despite all this evil world has and still attacks to the very core.

  • Lauree Morgan

    07/07/2023 12:26 AM

    Mike, thank you for the article on FAMILY. That’s been on my heart and my prayer is people would see the value of a home with Mom Dad and kids. With Jesus at the heart.
    And Mom in her role, with Dad.

  • Claire King

    07/06/2023 09:46 PM

    Dear, Mr. Huckabee
    I am 79 years old. First and always I am a Christian. I am a wife, mother, grandmother and soon to be a great grandmother. I was a teacher for 40 years. My brothers and I were blessed to have Godly parents and grandparents. A few months ago my brothers, cousins and all of our spouses and children gathered together to celebrate our family. We know we are not the normal in todays world. We prayed together, hugged each other and shared our memories of our wonderful Christian family. Our of fourteen grandchildren 13 of us are still kicking. We were blessed to have Christian parents who not only served our Lord and Savior but served others. I am the oldest out of the 14 grandchildren. We are all at the stage of life that most of us have children and grandchildren that we love so much that we want them to know the Lord as their savior. My husband and I are very proud of our three kids and we even adopted one after our kids grew up and our house was empty. We then started adopting families that came to our town and did not have grandparents around. So we were blessed by God to be given our bonus families. We are so proud of each and everyone of our kids, grandkids. We always say that we are all blood related because we all have the blood of Jesus that made us into one family in God.
    I am so sad when I see families around town that do not know what a true loving Christian family is.
    Please, tell your grandchildren that I love their driveway art. I have a lot of experience in side walk chalk art and they are very talented. Please, tell your daughter that she is doing a wonderful job at being a Mom. I know that you and your wife are very proud of her and your son. God Bless!!! Mrs. Claire King Prescott, Arizona

  • Jeanne Plante

    07/06/2023 09:44 PM

    I agree wholeheartedly. I didn't have a father, he walked out when I was 7 and mom was pregnant with baby # 7. She raised all of us, not on much, but we survived. We are all responsible adults thanks to Mom.

  • Carole Brinkhoff

    07/06/2023 09:31 PM

    I totally agree that family is very important!
    Parents must teach their children respect for others and that hasn't been happening.
    They also have to teach them spirituality.
    The Bible has many good things about being a good parent.
    Plus, we as parents must set a good example for our children.