Arlene Skolnick

Arlene Skolnick is a visiting professor of sociology at New York
University and a founding member of the Council for Contemporary Families.

Recent Articles

Controversy: Family Trouble

Continuing the debate from " Family Feud ," July-August 1997 and " Family Values: The Sequel ," May-June 1997. BARBARA DAFOE WHITEHEAD I n a review essay that purports to include my book, The Divorce Culture , Arlene Skolnick ignores what the book actually says. Instead, she falsely ascribes to me things I have never written. Let me begin with some of her many errors and misrepresentations. Then I will draw on my own argument, since it reveals the weaknesses in her view of how liberals should think about family structure changes. I have never written: "fatherlessness is the number one domestic problem facing the country because it drives all the rest." I do not point to the vulnerabilities of single-parent families as signs of their "moral failings." I do not argue for making alternatives to two-parent biological families socially unacceptable and practically difficult. I do not use "horror stories" about divorce. I do have files of touching letters from children of divorce, but I use...

State of the Debate: Family Values: The Sequel

The Institute for America Values has helped define recent debate about the family. But its writers have the facts wrong--the policies they encourage could actually make children's lives worse.

WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY Maggie Gallagher, The Abolition of Marriage: How We Destroy Lasting Love (Regnery Publishing, 1996). John R. Gillis, A World of Their Own Making: Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values (Basic Books, 1996). David Popenoe, Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society (Martin Kessler Books, 1996). David Popenoe, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and David Blankenhorn, eds., Promises to Keep: Decline and Renewal of Marriage in America (Rowan and Littlefield, 1996). Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Divorce Culture (Knopf, 1997). I n 1976, a team of social researchers returned to the small midwestern city that Helen and Robert Lynd immortalized as "Middletown" a half century earlier in the sociological classic by that name. Like the rest of the country in the 1970s, Middletown—actually Muncie, Indiana—had been shaken by the series of social and cultural upheavals that had suddenly undone...

The New Crusade for the Old Family

A new wave of family restorationists says that the evidence on families is in and that the remedies are clear. Their case doesn't hold up.

What is the root cause in America of poverty, crime, drug abuse, gang warfare, urban decay, and failing schools? According to op-ed pundits, Sunday talking heads, radio call-in shows, and politicians in both parties, the answer is the growing number of children being raised by single parents, especially by mothers who never married in the first place. Restore family values and the two-parent family, and America's social problems will be substantially solved. By the close of the 1992 presidential campaign, the war over family values seemed to fade. Dan Quayle's attack on Murphy Brown's single motherhood stirred more ridicule on late night talk shows than moral panic. The public clearly preferred Bill Clinton's focus on the economy and his more inclusive version of the family theme: "family values" means "valuing families," no matter what their form -- traditional, extended, two-parent, one-parent. Yet Clinton's victory was quickly followed by a new bipartisan crusade to restore the two...