Honorable Mention: Strong Families

Political candidates often talk about how they want to help families.  Whether they are talking about the economy or the environment, the mantra of supporting families is employed for many reasons.

Religious communities often champion the value of family, talk about “family values,” and speak of themselves as families.

But whose families do political parties and religious communities seek to protect and support?  We know that immigrant families are not supported by some politicians’ positions.  We know that families with same-sex parents are not supported by some religious communities.

Too often, the image of a heterosexual married couple with children is the one that people assume is behind the word “family.” 

Actually, that type of family makes up less than 25% of American families. 

And this is why we need the Strong Families Movement, a “a 10-year national initiative to change the way people think, feel and act in support of families.”

“Strong Families is a home for the 4 out of 5 people living in the US who do not live behind the picket fence—whose lives fall outside outdated notions of family, with a mom at home and a dad at work. While that life has never been the reality for most of our families, too many of the policies that affect us are based on this fantasy.  From a lack of affordable childcare and afterschool programs, to immigration policy and marriage equality, the way we make policy and allocate resources needs to catch up to the way we live.

We see the trend of families defining themselves beyond the picket fence—across generation, race, gender, immigration status, and sexuality—as a powerful and promising development for the US, and we want to help policy makers catch up.

Our vision is that every family have the rights, recognition and resources it needs to thrive.  We are engaging hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals in our work to get there.”

Dozens of organizations are partnering on campaigns like the national Mama’s Day campaign (the image above is from their Mother’s-Day-inspired e-cards), the efforts now in California to end shackling of women giving birth in prison, and work to protect Medicaid benefits received by 1 in 4 people in New Mexico.

Because when someone tells you that they are working to protect families, you should know whose family they really respect and recognize.

Is it yours?


Author note:  ‘Honorable Mention’ is a recurring feature on this blog … a quick mention/shout-out to someone or something worth noting.


About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and also teaches Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.