In order to help stimulate a national discussion of the state of American families, I will convene a White House Conference on Families in Washington, D.C., December 9-13. 1979.
Families are both the foundation of American society and its most important institution. In a world becoming more complex every day, our families remain the most lasting influence on our lives.
I am confident that the American family is basically sound and that we can and will adjust to the challenges of changing times. Yet American families confront growing problems. Two out of five marriages now end in divorce. One child in eight is born outside of marriage. A million young Americans now run away from home each year. In the face of these difficulties, I am encouraged by the increasing interest in the state of the family by people from all walks of life.
The main purpose of this White House Conference will be to examine the strengths of American families, the difficulties they face, and the ways in which family life is affected by public policies. The Conference will examine the important effects that the world of work, the mass media, the court system, private institutions, and other major facets of our society have on American. families.
This Conference will clearly recognize the pluralism of family life in America. The widely differing regional, religious, cultural, and ethnic heritages of our country affect family life and contribute to its diversity and strength. Families also differ in age and composition. There are families in which several generations live together, families with two parents or one, and families with or without children. The Conference will respect this diversity.
The work of this Conference, in conjunction with our current efforts to implement family-oriented government policies, can help strengthen and support this most vital and enduring social resource. I look forward to participating in the work of the Conference and receiving its report.