A Threefold Aim.—This book is based upon three theses—namely, first, that the monogamic, private, family is a priceless inheritance from the past and should be preserved; second, that in order to preserve it many of its inherited customs and mechanisms must be modified to suit new social demands; and third, that present day experimentation and idealistic effort already indicate certain tendencies of change in the family order which promise needed adjustment to ends of highest social value.
Many learned books have been written concerning the evolution of sex, the history of matrimonial institutions and the development of the family. This volume is not an attempted rival of any of these. The work of Havelock Ellis, of Le Tourneau, of Otis T. Mason, of Geddes and Thompson, and others building upon the foundations laid by the great pioneers in the study of the family, constitute a sufficient mine of historical information and scientific analysis and evaluation. The studies and suggestions of Olive Schreiner, Mrs. Clews Parsons, Mrs. Helen Bosanquet, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ellen Key and others indicate the tendency of modern inquiry into the just basis of the family order. The work of Professors Howard, Giddings, Thomas, Boss, Goodsell, Calhoun, Patten, Dealey, Cooley, Ellwood, Todd and others in college fields, shows the importance of the family and the necessity of giving all that concerns it the most serious attention.
This book aims to begin where many of these students leave off and to turn specific attention to the problems of personal and ethical decision which now face men and women who would make their own married life and parenthood successful. The past experience of the race is drawn upon only in so far as it seems to explain present conditions and point the way to future social and personal achievements.
Basic Principles Underlying All Socially Useful Changes.—A fundamental principle in democracy is the right and duty of every human being to develop a strong, noble and distinctive individuality. For such development it is necessary that a person be self-supporting, free of despotic control by others, and able and willing to bear equal part with every other human being in the social order to which he or she belongs.
This implies that no human being should be wholly sacrificed in personal development to the service or welfare of any other human being, or group of human beings, either inside or outside the family circle. On the other hand, after temporary excursions into an extreme individualism that ordained a free-for-all competition in every walk of life, society is now keenly alive to the need for control of personal desire and individual activity within channels of social usefulness. It is beginning to be clearly seen that society has a right to demand from any person or class of persons that form of community service which definitely inheres in the social function which is assumed by, or which devolves upon, such person or class of persons....