Problem Of The Modern Family
( Originally Published 1915 )
PASSING over the changes which affected the family during the Middle Ages and the still more striking changes which came through the Reformation, we must now devote ourselves to the study of the problems of the family as it exists at present. The religious theory of the family which prevailed during the Middle Ages, but which was more or less undermined by the Reformation, gave away entirely in those great social changes which ushered in the nineteenth century. Again, the view that marriage was a private contract came to prevail among the mass of the people, and even to be embodied in a great many of the constitutions and laws of the nineteenth century. At the same time profound economic changes tended largely to individualize society, and these were reflected in the democratic movement toward forms of popular government, which have tended on the whole to make the individual the political unit. The nineteenth century was, then, in all respects a period of great social change and unrest. Moreover, the growth of wealth has favored, in certain classes at least, lower moral standards and increasing laxity in family relationships. Thus it happens that we find the family life at the beginning of the twentieth century in a more unstable condition than it has been at any time since the beginning of the Christian era.. The instability of the modern family is, indeed, so great that many have thought that the family as an institution, in its present form at least, of permanent monogamy, will pass away. There can be no doubt, at any rate, that the whole problem of the modern family centers in the matter of its instability, that is, in divorce. The study of the divorce movement, then, will throw more light upon the condition of the modern family than the study of anything else. The instability of the modern family has been most evident in the United States. Hence, it is particularly American conditions that will concern us, although undoubtedly the disintegration of the family is not a peculiarly American phenomenon; rather it has characterized more or less all modern civilization, but is especially in evidence in America because American society has exaggerated the industrialism and individualism which are characteristic of Western civilization in general.
Without devoting too much time to the consideration of divorce statistics in their technical aspects, let us note, then, some of the main outlines of the modern divorce movement in this and other civilized countries.
Statistics of Divorce in the United States and Other Civilized Countries. For a long time the United States has led the world in the number of its divorces. Already in 1885 this country had more divorces than all the rest of the Christian civilized world put together. These statistics of the number of divorces granted in different civilized countries in 1885 (taken from Professor W. F. Willcox's monograph on The Divorce Problem) are of sufficient interest to cite at length.
It will be noted that in this particular year (1885), when the United States had 23,472 divorces, all the other countries mentioned together had only 20,131. For 1905, twenty years later.
It is evident from the above figures that the United States has more than kept its lead over the rest of the world in this matter of dissolving family ties, for it would seem probable from these figures that in 1905, when the United States had nearly 68,000 divorces, all the rest of the Christian civilized world put together had less than 40,000. Moreover, the divorce rates of the different countries tell the same story. In 1905 in France, there was only one divorce to every thirty marriages; in Germany, but one to every forty-four marriages; in England, but one to every four hundred marriages. Even in Switzerland, which has the highest divorce rate of any country of Europe, there was only one divorce in 1905 to every twenty-two marriages. Let us compare these rates with that of the United States, and particularly with the rates of several of the states that lead in the matter of divorces. In 1905 there was in the United States about one divorce to every twelve marriages, but the State of Washington had one divorce to every four marriages; Montana, one divorce to every five marriages; Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, and Indiana all had one divorce to every six marriages; California and Maine had one divorce to every seven marriages; New Hampshire, Missouri, and Kansas, one divorce to every eight marriages. While these rates are those of the states in which divorces are most numerous, yet, nevertheless, the number of states in which the divorce rates range from one to every six marriages to one to ten marriages are so numerous that they may be said to be fairly representative of American conditions generally. Some cities and localities have, of course, even higher divorce rates than any of the states that have been named. According to the United States Census Bulletin No. 20, there was in 1903 one divorce in Kansas City, Missouri, to every four marriages, and one divorce in the city of San Francisco to every three marriages.
Increase of Divorces in the United States. Not only does the United States lead the world in the number of its divorces, but apparently divorces are increasing in this country much more rapidly than the population. In 1867, the first year for which statistics for the country as a whole were gathered, there were 9937 divorces in the United States, but by 1906, the last year for which we have statistics, the total number of divorces granted in this country, yearly, had reached 72,062. Again, from 1867 to 1886 there were 328,716 divorces granted in the United States, but during the next twenty years, from 1887 to 1906, the number reached 945,625, or almost a total of 1,000,000 divorces granted in twenty years. Again, from 1867 to 1886 the number of divorces increased 157 per cent, while the population increased only about 6o per cent; from 1887 to 1906 the number of divorces in-creased over 16o per cent, while the population increased only slightly over 5o per cent. Thus it is evident that divorces are increasing in the United States three times as fast as the increase of population. It becomes, there-fore, a matter of some curious interest to speculate upon what will be the end of this movement. If divorces should continue to increase as they have during the past forty years, it is evident that it would not be long before all marriages would be terminated by divorce instead of by death. In 187o, 3.5 per cent of all marriages were terminated by divorce; in 188o, 4.8 per cent were terminated by divorce, and in 1900, about 8 per cent. Professor Willcox has estimated that if this increasing divorce rate continues, by 1950 one fourth of all marriages in the United States will be terminated by divorce, and in 1990 one half of all marriages. Thus we are apparently within measurable distance of a time when, if present tendencies continue, the family, as a permanent union between husband and wife, lasting until death, shall cease to be. At least, it is safe to say that in a population where one half of all marriages will be terminated by divorce the social conditions would be no better than those in the Rome of the decadence. We cannot imagine such a state of affairs without the existence alongside of it of widespread promiscuity, neglect of childhood, and general social demoralization. Without, however, stopping at this point to discuss the results or the effects of the divorce movement upon society, let us now consider for a moment how these divorces are distributed among the various elements and classes of our population.
Distribution of Divorces. It is usually thought by those who have observed the matter most carefully that divorce especially characterizes the wealthy classes and the laboring classes, but is least common among the middle classes. We have no statistics to bear out this belief, but it seems probable that it is substantially correct. The divorce statistics which we have, however, indicate certain striking differences in the distribution of divorces by classes and communities.
(1) The divorce rate is higher in the cities than in their surrounding country districts. We have just noted, for example, that the divorce rate in Kansas City, Missouri, is one divorce to every four marriages, while in the state ash whole it is one to every eight marriages. There are, however, certain exceptions to this generalization.
(2) A curious fact that the census statistics show is that apparently the divorce rate is about four times as high among childless couples as among couples that have children. This doubtless does not mean that domestic unhappiness is four times more common in families where there are no children than in families that have children, but it does show, nevertheless, that the parental instinct, is now, as in primitive times, a powerful force to bind husband and wife together.
(3) While we have no statistics from this country telling us exactly what the distribution of divorces is among the various religious denominations, still we know that because the Roman Catholic Church is strongly against divorce, divorces are very rare in that denomination. In Switzer-land, where the number of divorces among Protestants and Catholics has been noted, it is found that divorces are four times as common among Protestants as among Catholics. Some observers in this country have claimed that divorces are most common among those of no religious profession, next most common among Protestants, next among Jews, and least common among Roman Catholics.
(4) From this we might expect, as our statistics indicate, that the divorce rate is much higher among the native whites in this country than it is among the foreign born, for many of the foreign born are Roman Catholics, and, in any case, they come from countries where divorce is less common than in the United States.
(5) For the last forty years two thirds of all divorces have been granted on demand of the wife. This may indicate, on the one hand, that the increase of divorces is a movement connected with the emancipation of woman, and on the other hand it may indicate that it is the husband who usually gives the ground for divorce.
(6) The census statistics show three great centers of divorce in the United States. One is the New England States, one the states of the Central West, and one the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast states. These three centers are also typical centers of American institutions and ideas. The individualism of the New England, the Central West, and the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast regions has always been marked in comparison with some other sections of the country. But during the last twenty years divorce has also been increasing rapidly in the Southern states, and we now find such states as Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma well up toward the front among the states with a high divorce rate.
This distribution of divorces among the various elements and classes of the country suggests something as to the causes of divorce, and this will come out fully later in a discussion of the causes of the increase of divorce.
The Grounds for Granting Divorce. There are no less than thirty-six distinct grounds for absolute divorce recognized by the laws of the several states, ranging from only one ground recognized in New York to fourteen grounds recognized in New Hampshire. For this reason some have sup-posed that many of the divorces in this country are granted on comparatively trivial grounds. Several states have, for example, what is known as an " Omnibus Clause," granting divorce for mere incompatibility and the like. But the examination of divorce statistics shows that very few divorces are granted on trivial grounds. On the contrary, most divorces seem to be granted for grave reasons, such as adultery, desertion, cruelty, imprisonment for crime, habitual drunkenness, and neglect on the part of the husband to provide for his family. These are usually recognized as grave reasons for the dissolution of the marriage tie. None of them at least could be said to be trivial. Professor Willcox showed that for the twenty year period, 1867 to 1886, over ninety-seven per cent of all divorces were granted for these six principal causes. Moreover, he also showed that over sixty per cent were granted for the two most serious causes of all, adultery and desertion. Again, of the one million divorces granted from 1887 to 1906 over ninety-four per cent were granted for the six principal causes and over fifty-five per cent for adultery and desertion, while in still other cases adultery and desertion figured in combination with other causes (a total of over sixty-two per cent in all). Therefore, it seems probable that in nearly two thirds of the cases the marriage bond had already practically been dissolved before the courts stepped in to make the dissolution formal. We must conclude, therefore, that divorce is prevalent not because of the laxity of our laws, but rather because of the decay of our family life ; that divorce is but a symptom of the disintegration of the modern family, particularly the American family.
In other words, divorce is but a symptom of more serious evils, and these evils have in certain classes of American society apparently undermined the very virtues upon which the family life subsists. This is not saying that vice is more prevalent to-day than it was fifty years ago. We have no means of knowing whether it is or not, and there may well be a difference of opinion upon such a subject. It is the opinion of some eminent authorities that there has been no growth of vice in the United States along with the growth of divorce, but this would seem to be doubtful. The very causes for which divorce is granted suggest a demoralization of certain classes. While there may not have been, therefore, any general growth of vice in the United States along with the growth of divorce, it is conceivable that it may have increased greatly in certain classes of American society. Be this as it may, it is not necessary to assume that there has been any growth of vice in the American population, for if actual moral practices are no higher than they were fifty years ago that alone would be a sufficient reason to explain considerable disintegration of our family life. It is an important truth in sociology that the morality which suffices for a relatively simple social life, largely rural, such as existed in this country fifty years ago, is not sufficient for a more complex society which is largely urban, such as exists at the present time. Moreover, recognized moral standards within the past fifty years have largely been raised through the growth of general intelligence. It follows that immoral acts, which were condoned fifty years ago and which produced but slight social effect, today meet with great reprobation and have far greater social consequences than a generation ago. This is particularly true of the standards which the wife imposes upon the husband. For centuries, as we have already seen, the husband has secured divorce for adultery of the wife, but for centuries no divorce was given to the wife for the adultery of the husband; and this is even true to-day in modern England, unless the adultery of the husband be accompanied by other flagrant violations of morality. Conduct on the part of the husband, which the wife overlooked, therefore, a gene-ration ago, is to-day sufficient to disrupt the family bonds and become a ground for the granting of a divorce. Even if vice, then, has not increased in our population, if moral practices are no higher to-day than fifty years ago, we should expect that this alone would have far different con-sequences now than then. The growth of intelligence and of higher and more complex forms of social organization necessitates realization of higher standards of conduct if the institutions of society are to retain their stability.
But there are grave reasons for believing that there has been in certain classes of society a decay of the very virtues upon which the family rests, for the family life requires not only chastity, but even more the virtues of self-sacrifice, loyalty, obedience, and self-subordination. Now there is abundant evidence to show that these particular virtues which belong to a self-subordinating life are those which have suffered most in the changes and new adjustments of modern society. We have replaced these virtues largely by those of self-interest, self-direction, and self-assertiveness.
Causes of the Increase of Divorce in the United States.
Let us note somewhat more in detail the causes of the increased instability of the American family during the past four or five decades. We have already in a rough way indicated some of these causes in studying the distribution of divorce and the grounds upon which it is granted. But the causes of the instability of the family so affect our whole social life and all of our institutions that they are well worth somewhat more detailed study.
(1) As the first of these causes of the increase of divorce in the United States we should put the decay of religion, particularly of the religious theory of marriage and the family. As we have already seen, no stable family life has existed anywhere in history without a religious basis, but within the last few decades religious sentiments, beliefs, and ideals have become largely dissociated from marriage and the family, and the result is that many people regard the institutions of marriage and the family as a matter of personal convenience. This decay of the religious view of the marriage bond has, however, had other antecedent causes, partially in the moral and intellectual spirit of our civilization, partially in our industrial conditions.
(2) We should put, therefore, as a second cause of the increase of divorces in this country the growing spirit of individualism. By individualism we mean here the spirit of self-assertion and self-interest, the spirit which leads a man to find his law in his own wishes, or even in his whims and caprices. Now, this growing spirit of individual-ism is undoubtedly more destructive of the social life than anything else. It makes unstable all institutions, and especially the family, because the family must rest upon very opposite characteristics. Our democratic government, the development of our industry, and our education have all been responsible to some extent for making the individual take his own interests and wishes as his law.
(3) Moreover, this individualism has spread within the last fifty years especially among the women of the population, and a great movement has sprung up which is known as the " Woman's Rights Movement," or simply the " Woman's Movement." Now this woman's movement has accompanied and in part effected the emancipation of women legally, mentally, and economically. The result is that women, as a class, have become as much individualized as the men, and oftentimes are as great practical individualists.
No one would claim that the emancipation of woman, in the sense of freeing her from those things which have prevented the highest and best development of her personality, is not desirable. But this emancipation of woman has brought with it certain opportunities for going down as well as for going up. Woman's emancipation has not, in other words, meant to all classes of women, woman's elevation. On the contrary, it has been to some, if not an opportunity for license, at least an opportunity for self-assertion and selfishness not consistent with the welfare of society and particularly with the stability of the family. We may remind ourselves once more that the Roman women achieved complete emancipation, but they did not thereby better their social position. On the contrary, the emancipation of woman in Rome meant woman's degradation, and ultimately the demoralization of Roman family life. While this is not necessarily an accompaniment of woman's emancipation, still it is a real danger which threatens, and of which we can already see many evidences in modern society. As in all other emancipatory movements, the dangers of freedom are found for some individuals at least to be quite as great as the dangers of subjection.
That the woman's movement has had much to do with the growth of divorce in this country gains substantiation from the fact that many of the leaders of that movement, like Miss Susan B. Anthony and Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, advocated free divorce, and their inculcation of this doctrine certainly could not have been without some effect.
But the woman's movement would have perhaps failed to develop, or at least failed of widespread support, if it had not been for the economic emancipation of woman through the opening to her of many new industrial callings and the securing for her a certain measure of economic independence. This, again, while perhaps a good thing in itself, has, nevertheless, facilitated the growing tendency to form unstable family relations. But this economic independence of woman, we need hardly remark, is the necessary and, indeed, inevitable outcome of modern industrial development.
(4) The growth of modern industrialism must, then, be regarded as one of the fundamental factors which has brought about the increase of divorce in the United States. By industrialism we mean manufacturing industry. As we have already noticed, the growth of manufacturing industry has opened a large number of new economic callings to woman and has rendered her largely economically independent of family relations. Moreover, the labor of women in factories has tended to disrupt the home, particularly in the case of married women, as we have already seen. For the laboring classes it has tended to make the home only a lodging place, with little or no development of a true family life. Again, such labor has set the sexes in competition with each other, has tended to reduce their sexual differences and to stimulate immensely their individualism. Finally, inasmuch as modern industrialism has tended to destroy the home, the result has been the production of unsocialized children, and especially of those that had no tradition of a family life. Girls, for example through industrialism, have failed to learn the domestic arts, failed to have any training in homemaking, and there-fore when they came to the position of wife and mother they were frequently not fitted for such a life, and through their lack of adjustment rendered the homes which they formed unstable.
(5) Closely connected with the growth of modern indus trialism is the growth of modern cities, and, as we have( already seen, divorce is usually much more common i] the cities than in the rural districts. The growth of th cities, in other words, has been a cause of the increase of divorce. City populations, on account of the economi conditions under which they live, are peculiarly homeless. A normal home can scarcely exist in the slums and in some of the tenement districts of our cities. Again, in the city there is perhaps more vice and other immorality, less control of the individual by public opinion, and more opportunity, on account of close living together and high standards of living, for friction, both within and without the domestic circle.
(6) The higher standards of living and comfort which have come with the growth of our industrial civilization, especially of our cities, must also be set down as a cause of increasing instability of the family. High standards of living are, of course, desirable if they can be realized, that is, if they are reasonable. But many elements of our population have standards of living and comfort which they find are practically impossible to realize with the income which they have. Many classes, in other words, are unable to meet the social demands which they suppose they must meet in order to maintain a home. To found and maintain a home, therefore, with these rising standards of living, and also within the last decade or two with the rising cost of living, requires such a large income that an increasingly smaller proportion of the population are able to do this satisfactorily. From this cause, undoubtedly, a great deal of domestic misery and unhappiness results, which finally shows itself in desertion or in the divorce court.
It is evident that higher standards of taste and higher standards of morality may also operate under certain circumstances tó render the family life unstable in a similar way.
(7) Directly connected with these last mentioned causes is another cause, the higher age of marriage. Some have thought that a low age of marriage was more prolific in divorces than a relatively high age of marriage. But a low age of marriage cannot be a cause of the increase of divorce in the United States, because the proportion of immature marriages in this country is steadily lessening, that is, the age of marriage is steadily increasing, and all must admit that along with the higher age of marriage has gone increasing divorce; and there may possibly be some connection between the two facts. As we have already seen, the higher standards of living make later marriage necessary. Men in the professions do not think of marriage nowadays until thirty, or until they have an independent income. Now, how may the higher age of marriage possibly increase the instability of the family? It may do so in this way. After thirty, psychologists tell us, one's habits are relatively fixed and hard to change. People who marry after thirty, therefore, usually find greater difficulty in adjusting themselves to each other than people who marry somewhat younger; and every marriage necessarily involves an adjustment of individuals to each other. This being so, we can readily understand that late marriages are more apt to result in faulty adjustments in the family relation than marriages that take place in early maturity.
(8) Another cause of the increase of divorce in the United States that has been given is the popularization of law which has accompanied the growth of democratic institutions. Law was once the prerogative of special classes, and courts were rarely appealed to except by the noble or wealthy classes; but with the growth of democratic institutions there has been a great spread of legal education, especially through the modern newspaper, and consequently a greater participation in the remedies offered by the courts for all sorts of wrongs, real or imagined. Many people, for example, who would not have thought of divorce a generation ago, now know how divorce may be secured and are ready to secure it. How-ever, it would seem as though this cause of the increase of divorce might have operated to a greater extent twenty-five or thirty years ago than it has during the last two decades, for it cannot be said that since the nineties there has been much increase of legal education among the masses, or much greater popularization of the law.
(9) Increasing laxity of the laws regarding divorce and increasing laxity in the administration of the laws has certainly been a cause of increasing divorce in the United States, though back of these causes doubtless lie all the other causes just mentioned, and also increasing laxity in public opinion regarding marriage and divorce. To assume that laxity of the laws and of legal administration has no influence upon the increase of divorce in a population is to go contrary to all human experience. The people of Canada and of England, for example, are not very different from ourselves in culture and in institutions, yet there is almost no divorce in England and in Canada as compared with the United States. Canada has a few dozen divorces annually, while we have over seventy thousand. Unquestionably the main cause of this great difference between Canada and the United States is to be found in the difference of their laws. This is not saying, however, that instability of the family does not characterize Canada and England as well as the United States, even though such instability does not express itself in the divorce courts.
Interesting statistics have been collected in numerous places in the country to show the laxity of the administration of the divorce laws. In many of the divorce courts of our large cities, for example, it has repeatedly been shown that the average time occupied by the court in granting a divorce is not more than fifteen minutes. In other words, divorce cases are frequently rushed through our divorce courts without solemnity, without adequate investigation, with every opportunity for collusion between the parties, so as to favor a very free granting of divorces. On the other hand, about one fourth of all the applications for divorce which come to trial are refused by the courts, showing that the courts are not so lax in all cases as they are sometimes pictured to be.
Moreover, the divorce courts have two excuses for their laxity. First, the divorce courts are always greatly over-burdened with the number of cases before them; and, secondly, public opinion, which the courts as well as other phases of our government largely reflect, favors this laxity. This is shown by the fact that public opinion stands back of the lax divorce statutes of many states, all efforts to radically change these statutes having failed of recent years.
(10) Our study of the family has accustomed us to the thought that the family is an institution which, like all other human institutions, undergoes constant changes. Now at periods of change in any institution, periods of transition from one type to another, there is apt to be a period of confusion. The old type of institution is never replaced at once by a new type of institution ready-made and adjusted to the social life, but only gradually does the new institution emerge from the elements of the old. In the meantime, however, there may be a considerable period of confusion and anarchy. This social principle, we may note, rests upon a deeper psychological principle, that old habits are usually not replaced by new habits without an intervening period of confusion and uncertainty. In other words, in the transition from the old habit to the new habit there is much opportunity for disorganization and disintegration. It is exactly so in human society, because social institutions are but expressions of habit.
Now, the old semipatriarchal type of the family, which prevailed down to the beginning of the nineteenth century, the type of the family which we might perhaps properly call the monarchical type, has been disappearing for the past one hundred years, is in fact already practically extinct, at least in America, but we have not yet built up a new type of the family to take its place. The old semipatriarchal family of our forefathers has gone, but no new type of the family has yet become general. A democratic type of the family in harmony with our democratic civilization must be evolved. But such a democratic type of the family can be stable only upon the condition that its stability is within itself and not without. Authority in various coercive forms made the old type of the family stable, but a stable basis for a new type of the family has not yet been found, or rather it has not been found by large elements of our population. Unquestionably a democratic ethical type of the family in which the rights of every one are respected and all members are bound together, not through fear or through force of authority, but through love and affection, is being evolved in certain classes of our society. The problem before our civilization is whether such a democratic ethical type of the family can become generalized and offer a stable family life to our whole population. It is evident that in order to do this there must be a considerable development, not only of the spirit of equality, but even more, a considerable development of social intelligence and ethical character in the minds of the people. To construct a stable family life of this character, however, which is apparently the only type which will meet the demands of modern civilization, is not an impossibility, but is a delicate and difficult task which will require all the resources of the state, the school, and the church. There is, however, no ground as yet for pessimism regarding the future of our family life; rather all its instability and demoralization of the present are simply incident, we must believe, to the achievement of a higher type of the family than the world has yet seen. Such a higher type, however, will not come about without effort and forethought on the part of society's leaders.
Remedies for the Divorce Evil. That the instability of the family and divorce, so far as it is an expression of that instability, is an evil in society is implied in all that has thus far been said concerning the origin, development, and functions of the family as an institution. We shall not stop, therefore, to argue this point since all preceding chapters amount to an argument upon this question. It may be added, however, that in so far as observations have been made of the results of divorce upon children, that the argument has been substantiated, for apparently the children of separated or divorced parents are much more apt to drift into poverty, vice, or crime, that is, into the unsocialized classes, than children who do not come from such disrupted homes. Assuming, then, without further argument that divorce, or rather the instability of the family, is an evil in modern society, the question arises, how can it be remedied ?
If, as has already been implied, the real evil is not so much divorce as the decay of the family life, then it at once becomes evident that legislation can do little to correct the real evil. That it can do nothing, and that an attitude of laissez-faire is justified upon this question, is, of course, not implied. As we have already noted, the difference between the few divorces of the Dominion of Canada and the many divorces of the United States is largely due to a difference of laws; nevertheless, we cannot assume from this that there is a like difference in the state of the family life of the two countries. Unquestionably, however, legislation can do something even in the way of setting moral ideals before a people. Divorce laws should not be too lax if we do not wish a state to set low moral standards for its citizens. It is not too much to say, therefore, that the lax divorce laws of many of our states are a crime against civilization, even though making these laws much stricter might not of itself greatly check the decay of the family. Again, reasonable restrictions upon the remarriage of divorced- parties might very well be insisted upon by law for the sake of public decency if nothing more. Present laws in many states permit the remarriage of divorced parties immediately upon granting of divorce. It would seem that a law requiring the innocent party to wait at least six months, and the guilty party to wait from two to five years and then give evidence of good conduct before being permitted to remarry, would work a hardship upon no one. Again, a uniform federal divorce and marriage law might have some good effects upon the family life of the nation. Divorce and marriage are of such general importance that they should be controlled by federal statutes rather than by state laws. If such an amendment to our present federal constitution were enacted, it might not result in greatly decreasing the number of divorces in this country, but it would result in bringing about uniformity in the different states in the matter of marriage as well as in the matter of divorce, which, from many points of view, is desirable. More-over, if divorce were under federal control this would throw all divorce cases into the federal courts, and would, perhaps, secure a stricter administration of divorce laws.
But it is evident that the main reliance in combating the evils which have given rise to the present instability of our family life must be placed upon education rather than upon legislation. Legislation, we may here note, has many shortcomings as an instrument of social reconstruction or reform. Legislation is necessarily external and coercive. It fails oftentimes to change the habits of individuals, and very generally fails to change their opinion. Education, on the other hand, alters human nature directly, changing both the opinions and habits of the individual. Neither education nor legislation can be neglected in social reconstruction. Both are necessary, but supplement each other. But from the time of Plato down all social thinkers have perceived the fact that education is a surer and safer means of reorganizing society than legislation. While, therefore, I would not oppose education to legislation, I would say that emphasis in all social reform should be laid upon education rather than coercive legislative action, and especially in this case of relaying the foundations for a stable family life in our country. The main reliance, then, in this matter must be placed upon the education which the school, the church, and the home can give to the rising generation. Until children are taught to look upon the family as a socially necessary and therefore sacred institution, until they are taught to look upon marriage as something other than an act to suit their own convenience and pleasure, we must expect that our family life will be unstable. The reconstruction of our family life, indeed, practically involves the reconstruction of our whole social life. Things in industry, in business, in politics, in the conventions and ideals and general spirit of our people, that are opposed to stability in family relations, must be remedied before we can strike at the root of the evil. All of this may be taken for granted; but it would seem that the moral education of the young is the key to the situation in any event. The importance of a pure and wholesome family life in society should, therefore, be emphasized by our whole system of public education, while the responsibility which rests upon the church in this connection is especially obvious; but the home itself must, it may be admitted, be the chief means of inculcating in the young the sacredness of the family. Inasmuch as this cannot be done in homes that are already demoralized, the main hope must be that such education will be given to children in homes that are as yet relatively pure and stable. Movements toward such education already exist in society, and, as we have already said, there is no reason for pessimism, if we take a long view of the situation. But it is nevertheless evident that the instability of the family must be regarded as the greatest of our social problems today.
Summary Regarding the Influence of Industrial Conditions upon the Present Instability of the Family. As we have already seen, the development of modern industry is one of the chief causes of the decay of modern family life. Certain aspects of our industrialism, such as the labor of women and children in factories, the growth of cities, and the loss of the home through the slum and the tenement, the higher standards of living and comfort, and the resulting higher age of marriage, all of these have had, to a certain extent at least, a disastrous effect upon the family. Some of these things, like the growth of cities, seem inseparable from modern industrial development. The problem must be, therefore, how to overcome the evil effect of these tendencies in industry upon the home. There is no reason for believing that such evil effects cannot be overcome, although the problem is a difficult one. Our aim should be, not to stop industrial development, but to guide it and control it in the interest of the higher development of the family. That this is entirely feasible may already be seen from what has been accomplished in the way of regulating the labor of women and children and in the way of providing better conditions in the homes of the working population.
There is, however, nothing in evidence in the causes of increasing divorce in the United States which warrants the belief that American industrial development is alone responsible for the increasing instability of our family life. The industrial development of America is less peculiar in many ways than its political and social development. Divorce and instability of the family, as we have seen, characterize the American people more than any other civilized population. This fact, then, cannot be explained entirely in terms of American industrial development, but we must look also, as has already been emphasized, to certain peculiarities in American character, American institutions, and American ideas and ideals. The divorce movement in the United States affords no proof of the theory of economic determinism.