The “family” is in the midst of great change that threatens the stability of society, says Bishop of Durham

Children need to be taught the value of loving relationships.

“The family as we have known it is in the midst of great change… The course we as a society are on now threatens not only to change the structure of the family unit but to move away from the stability and security we have traditionally valued.”

These were the words of the Bishop of Durham who was speaking at an event at the House of Lords. The event was organised by Explore, an educational charity that helps young people discuss, evaluate and explore long-term positive, healthy relationships within the context of marriage.

He added:

“Society is at risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, diminishing the healing power of good families by treating the institution as suspicious. Social responsibility is changing, we are on a trend where more outsourcing of care for our vulnerable family members is happening, including our children. This social support is important, but we need to be aware that it could also risk diminishing the loving family connections we hold and know to be commonly for our good.”

In addition to raising awareness of the challenges faced by society, the Bishop also said:

“Presenting marriage as if it is all a bed of rose petals helps no one understand why it is such an important institution. Presenting it as a bed of roses, including the thorns, matters.

“It is important that we teach children that entering into lifelong covenanted relationships is great and for all our good. We equally have to teach that such relationships have to be kept being worked at, and that such work is worth it.

“Explore has demonstrated time and time again the value of their work in schools. I love the way couples simply go in and share their stories. I honour them for telling the stories with such honesty about failure and difficulty alongside the delights and joys.”

Explore was hosting the event to mark its 18th Birthday in advance of its participation in the Big Give Christmas Challenge, which will see every donation made to its Hearts & Minds campaign between Tuesday 27 November and Tuesday 4 December being doubled.

The Big Give Christmas Challenge is the UK’s biggest online match funding campaign. For seven days, it offers supporters of participating charities the opportunity to have their donation doubled on theBigGive.org.uk.

Explore’s Hearts & Minds campaign aims to raise £9,000 to help it reach 1,000 more young people in schools around the UK via its relationships workshops. These workshops see volunteer couples sharing their experiences of relationships in the classroom, helping the young students to discover the answers to questions about what is ‘normal’ in a loving and authentic adult relationship.

Lisa Gagliani MBE, chief executive of Explore, said:

“Children & young people today are just as likely to grow up with one parent, neither parent or both parents. Little wonder that many teenagers today do not believe or dare to hope that they could one day meet the right person, fall in love and that it could last a lifetime. We believe family breakdown is causing a great deal of anxiety & other acute youth mental health issues.”

She added:

“Our workshops help set a new framework about relationships and develops a sense of trust, commitment and the constant need for communication – life skills which can be learnt, practiced & reap benefits not just in romantic relationships but in all relationships – including peer to peer, client, customer and boss.”

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