Almost everyone places a high value on family life.  Yet so many obstacles get in the way; work, money, distance between family members, other people’s expectations, the list goes on.

The Canada Family Life Project recently surveyed Canadians about their views on family life.  Their aim was to provide more information about marriage and family aspirations in order that families are better supported.  For Canadians participating in the study, the most frequently cited obstacles to family life were achieving work-life balance and money; something families around the world can identify with. 

The push by numerous governments to get more women into work could well be in large part to blame for the extreme time pressure on parents with young families, along with the resulting stress some women feel if they cannot balance a family and maintain a “career”.  For some families a lack of time goes hand in hand with a lack of money; women must work longer hours than they wish to as well as raise young children to pay the bills.

With regard to marriage, overall about 78 percent of respondents thought it had a “positive” or “somewhat positive” effect on family life.  However, younger people aged between eighteen to twenty-nine years old were least likely to value marriage, with over a quarter (28.4 percent) “agreeing” or “somewhat agreeing” that marriage is an out-dated institution.  Given that marriage has been the building block of stable family life and the life-long task of raising children for generations, this is a worrying finding.  Yet very few respondents actually viewed marriage as negative (4 percent).

The study finds that there is not enough Canadian family-related research that enables Canadians to understand why marriage matters not just for personal reasons but also for the creation of stronger communities, protecting against poverty and even encouraging physical and emotional health.

Solutions to family challenges offered by Canadians include: working less/more flexible hours, having more money, better access to healthcare and lower house prices.  Thirteen percent identified improving relationships as a way to improve family life.  If society has a greater understanding of the importance and far-reaching societal effects of positive family life it might be more willing to support and encourage families in these areas.

Last week I discussed The Canada Family Life Project‘s findings regarding elderly care; a critical public-policy issue in countries around the world.  Next week I will discuss its findings regarding children and child-care.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...