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How We Can Bolster American Families

Not so long ago, in a city far away, Nick had a young employee who was pregnant and scared. She was fresh out of college, working her first grown-up job, and was over her ears in college loans. Her new husband had moved cities to marry her, and was having a hard time finding work. At the same time, she found out she was going to have a baby several years ahead of schedule, but she couldn’t afford to quit to stay home with the baby like she wanted.

They managed to work things out though, in large part thanks to Nick. He expressed genuine happiness when he learned his assistant would have a child, but more importantly, he translated his love of family into action. After the baby arrived, he let the new mother work from home half the week (her husband worked nights and weekends during the other half) so that the couple could care for their child themselves.

That scared young mom was me, and Nick Schulz was my boss just a few years ago. While we’ve both moved on to other jobs, he revisited the American Enterprise Institute this week for an event on changing family structure in America. It’s no surprise to me that Nick cares about families, because he has cared for mine.

My husband and I had several options. We could have left D.C. for a city where my husband could get a job and support me and our baby. There was no legal or moral mandate for Nick to let me shift work so I could care for my child; our children are my responsibility, and my husband’s, not Nick’s. But because he did, we were able to pay off those school loans quickly, and begin our new marriage and family with far less strain.

The event on Thursday brought up the huge explosion in adults who are hurting their children by choosing not to marry or remain married. Research conclusively shows that children flourish most with two married, biological parents. You can get a taste of some of that research by viewing this video.

But the most difficult part of this discussion is not realizing the obvious truth that the American family is in trouble (although unfortunately, that’s often hard enough), it’s knowing what to do about it. Changing society is a big, difficult and risky task.

[pullquote]     Changing society is a big, difficult and risky task.[/pullquote]

How Nick treated my family is one answer. I don’t mean everyone needs to find scared pregnant women and help them be able to work at home—although I certainly encourage such efforts. I mean that every human comes into contact with others who have needs. Wisely noticing and meeting those needs as often as possible is one way we can strengthen America’s crumbling families.

What could this look like for you? Offer free babysitting to young families, like our pastor has with us. Invite a single mom and her family over for dinner regularly. Take her boys on adventures like fishing trips or baseball games. Steer couples toward financial advisors to help reduce bad money decisions, which are a major source of marital conflict.

Everyone can do something. And everyone needs to.