Prague, Czech Republic -A conference in the Parliament of the Czech Republic on May 22, 2014 in observance of the International Day of Families was organized by UPF-Czech Republic, UPF-Germany and other Czech partner organizations. The conference was under auspices of the Permanent Commission for Family, Equal Opportunities and Minorities of the Czech Parliament with the support of the Czech-German Fund for the Future.
The opening speech was delivered by the deputy speaker of the House and deputy chair of the Permanent Commission for Family, Equal Opportunities and Minorities of the Czech Parliament. In his opening speech he emphasized the importance of the family as the foundation for a healthy society. The family has been the base of social cohesion throughout history, and yet today there is decreased interest in establishing a family by many in the younger generation. For instance in a recent research study, young women reported their priorities in life as first education, then career and third, family. This low priority for family has had a significant impact on the declining birthrate. and low birthrates contribute to lower productivity and economic growth. In the Czech Republic, the birthrate is quite low at 1.42%. The function of the family is not only to reproduce to support the economy. The family creates a home, safety and a place where people love each other. Economics is secondary. People should be proud of their family. The family should recover its status in society so that children, families and the nation can continue, prosper and flourish.
The next speaker was Mr. Martin Hořák, representative of the Czech-German Fund for the Future. He praised the conference for facilitating international dialogue and also because of the urgency of the theme: “We are happy to support this conference because the family is connected with the future.”
Dr. Juraj Lajda spoke on behalf of the UPF-Czech Republic, underlining the importance of discussing the family. He welcomed the guests from Germany, Austria and Slovakia. Christian Hausmann, president of UPF-Germany, noted that the theme of family is a hot topic in many nations and also in the European Parliament. The state tries to intervene into family matters, and in many countries people are questioning the value of the family.
The first panel, “Problems of the Contemporary Family,” was opened by Dr. Jeroným Klimeš, a well-known clinical psychologist in the Czech Republic, especially in the area of divorce, marriage problems and adoption of children. He mentioned that people do not want to have children, usually because they think life is more convenient without children and they want to enjoy life. It is not an economic issue, as people often state, because the highly developed countries have a very low birthrate. He pointed out that if this trend continues, nations will decline in population and finally die out. Some decades ago, the motto was “one child for the father, one for the mother and one for the nation.” Now this is no longer true.
The next speaker was from Germany: Dr. Stefan Fuchs from the Institute of Demography in Bonn. He explained trends in family policy. The question of who should educate the children – the state or the parents - is a very hot problem, especially in Europe, where many activists try to persuade the public that the state and so-called experts and professionals can do this job better than the parents. He called this a dangerous tendency, similar to communist ideology.
The second panel focused on “The Significance of the Family for the Society.” Mrs. Helena Klímová, honorary vice president of the Rafael Institute, spoke about the families after the holocaust. Each human being has a soul, she said. She spoke about the consequences of the lack of parental care because personality is shaped through the parent-child relationship.
The next speaker, Dr. Roman Joch, director of the Civic Institute, described the family as a place where people can learn about freedom, equality, authority and also hierarchy. The family creates a base for emotional development, economic independence, education, social interaction, health care, cultural and leisure activities. Therefore, people should strive to establish good and functional families.
The last speaker in this panel was Mrs. Gisele Muenster from Germany. In a traditional family, the father took care of the finances and the mother took care of the household and children’s education. This concept of a traditional family is changing. Since the 1960s, developments have weakened the traditional family; for example, contraception, educational opportunities for women, young people prolonging their youth. All these new trends bring also new problems. The family is a unique haven where each person can develop and improve as a human being. Support for families helps ensure that society will prosper.
The third panel was called “Marriage and Parenthood." Dr. Jana Jochová, vice president of the Committee for the Defense of Parental Rights, spoke from her own experience. “The greatest value is freedom, and I want to preserve freedom for my children,” she explained. She mentioned Gabriele Kuby, who speaks about gender ideology. She and other activists opposed the one-sided sex education in the Czech schools and worked to successfully have the policies changed.
Mrs. Hildegard Piepenburg, chairwoman of the family department of UPF-Germany, spoke about the definition of the traditional family. She described a growing opposition to state-supported child education program. Science confirms the differences between sexes, and natural education of children by parents creates the best environment for children education. The state cannot substitute for this. We should avoid any false ideology about gender or the family especially in the children's education. According to the UPF concept, the family is a school of love.
The final speaker in this panel was Dan Drapal, vice president of the William Wilberforce Institute. Historically, a family starts with wedding rites. Family and marriage are more than friendship. Family means distribution of roles, but this is being called into question. Even though a father loves his child he cannot nurse the child. Also, a single mother can take care of children but she cannot educate them as a father does. Boys need a father figure in their upbringing; there is no substitute. Mothers and fathers have their specific functions and value. If the family is weak, society can be easily manipulated. If the family is strong, people cannot be easily manipulated. A good family requires sacrifice, on the part of both men and women.
The last panel was devoted to “Family and the Media.” Dr. Michaela Freiová, editor-in-chief of the Res Claritatis magazine, spoke about the image of the family in the media during the 1990s in the Czech Republic. Housewives were considered inferior to women working in a paying job, and childcare should be entrusted to the institutions and kindergartens. Marriage based on the equal role of man and woman was viewed as a stereotype that had to be changed. Television and other media have started to propagate a family concept similar to communism. This phenomenon exists in a neo-Marxist form in the west. The mass media do not publicize what is going on, but it reminds thinking people of communist re-education. Christian values are ridiculed in the media. The attack on the family is basically an attack on religion, which seeks to preserve traditional values.
The last speaker was Birgit Kelle from Germany, president of the Initiative Frau 2000 Plus. She mentioned that the traditional family is not often promoted in the media. Most journalists do not live in traditional families; they are not married and have no children. The women in the media are often feminists and consider the model of a traditional family a stereotype which should be changed. They feature reports about a successful single mother taking care of her child, but they do not speak about the previous breakdown of the family. Nobody enters into marriage with the idea of becoming a single mother. They want tolerance and then acceptance. It is time to mobilize the silent majority.
This first conference in the Czech Parliament addressed a topic of great importance. UPF-Czech Republic prepared the conference in cooperation with UPF-Germany and other partner organizations, which made the conference very successful. The partnership with UPF-Germany and having participants from Austria and Slovakia gave the conference an international dimension.
Speakers at the conference made it clear that the traditional family is in danger; there are ideological attacks on family, and therefore the family must be protected. The silent majority has to wake up. A neo-Marxist ideology seeking to destroy the traditional family is coming mostly from the West. The East has experienced communism and is more cautious. People are aware of the effort of the state to organize people's lifestyle and take away the parents’ rights to educate the children.
Some of the 81 participants expressed gratitude for the conference and appreciation for the high level of the speakers. Several of them who participated in a similar conference in the Senate a few days earlier commented that this conference was better.
For photos of the event, click here.