FAMILY, MARRIAGE, AND PARENTHOOD is an outgrowth of an earlier symposium, Marriage and the Family, of which we were likewise the editors. Hence similarities are here and there apparent in spite of the fact that this is a new book rather than a revision of an old one. The chief similarities are the result of the general plan and of the happy circumstance that many of the authors whom we called upon for a second contribution were able to grant our request. The chapters by Bigelow, Gentry, Gordon, Elliott, and Smith, however, were lifted from the earlier work, and for obvious reasons were not drastically altered.
We have tried to keep textbook purposes clearly in view. A textbook is not a treatise. It is or should be designed to make tested knowledge available and assimilable. The scope of tested knowledge about family matters is vast -- so vast, indeed, that an adequate textbook can perhaps best be written by a group of specialists following a unified plan. The plan of this book represents an effort to combine the better features of both the traditional type of course and the newer variety pointed toward preparation for marriage.
The assimilating of the large amount of knowledge which a carefully organized symposium can provide is not to be taken for granted; special demands upon both editors and authors necessarily arise. Exposition must be clear and systematic, examples and evidence abundant, and selected bibliographies and topics for reports reasonably full and stimulating. We hope these and similar demands have been properly met. With all the stress on assimilability, however, there has been no "writing down"; we have not tried to provide a book for the immature.
Family, marriage, and parenthood are here dealt with as webs of social interation. It is of course impossible to avoid consideration of the many necessary factors setting the conditions under which such webs are woven, and many of the chapters deal with these factors. When all is said and done, however, family structure is a matter of social organization, marriage is a social institution not a "private affair" of merely biological or even of "companionship" character, and parenthood involves far more than germ plasm.
Most of the specialists dealing with social interation are sociologists or their near kin, social and cultural anthropologists. Our purpose in editing this symposium, however, has not been technically sociological in character; in fact, it might be better to speak of purposes, for we hope that the result of our labors is a "double barreled" text. Students are interested in more than strictly sociblogical analysis; family problems are very much in their minds. "The old order changeth," and a great deal that was once unchallenged is now questioned. No one can accuse the student of being cheaply utilitarian if he persistently seeks answers to problems that may soon be his own -- or perhaps are so already.
The "double barrel," so to speak, becomes even more obviously necessary when we realize that in family matters popular misconceptions abound, and everyone from the radio hucksters to the drugstore pulp sellers helps to spread them. This text endeavors to counteract the most harmful.
Interest in family problems is also generated by widespread misgivings about the role of "reason" in human conduct. Several parts of the present text raise the very real question as to whether family, marriage, and parenthood can give much . . .