Let's face it: the family is in trouble. Broken homes are less of a statistic and more of a common occurrence. Here are ten problems families face today (taken from providentliving.org).
1) Parenting Issues
2) Marital Issues
5) Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy
6) Emotional and Mental Problems
7) Substance Abuse and Addictions
8) Eating Disorders
Granted, writing and literature can't cure all of these problems. But they can help. One of my missions with my writing is to help elevate the family. Here's how I plan to do it.
Parenting Issues. No one is given a manual on how to raise a child. Sometimes the problems we have feel so farfetched and unreal that we're certain nobody could relate to us. That's where the right literature can change a parent's outlook. Just realizing that other people go through what we go through, and worse, and make it through it, might help a parent feel more enabled to tackle the next challenge. Not only that, but when we read, we are put behind the eyes of the character. Parents and teenagers can begin to relate better to each other if they read books that share stories similar to theirs. By reading YA literature, parents will see what life is really like for their teens. As long as they are reading to understand, not to censure.
Marital Issues. Marital issues can stem from so many things, from infidelity to financial ruin to emotional issues. But I think one of the biggest hang ups is SELF ESTEEM. It's a big problem for men as well as women, but as I am female, I want to focus on the woman for a moment. There's a lot of truth to the saying that if "Mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." It is hugely important for the woman to take some time to reach her own self-fulfillment. When she feels like a whole person without needing to be codependent on her role as wife and mom, she will be a more willing, happier partner in her marriage. (Men, it's probably very similar for you.) Writing is therapeutic. I bet many women could come to know themselves better and know their needs better if they started writing.
Divorce. In general, divorce comes from marital issues gone bad. Therefore, if writing can help out with the marital issues, hopefully divorce will become less prevalent in those families as well.
Grieving. It's fairly obvious how literature and writing help with grieving. Even if it's a fiction book that helps someone laugh or cry or get in touch with their emotions, of if it's taking the time to remember and put those memories somewhere lasting. I think grieving becomes a problem when we refuse to deal with it. We wallow in it, allowing it to take control of our lives. Writing can help us stay in touch with reality and what really matters as we work through our emotions. It can also help us channel our negative feelings into a positive reservoir.
Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy. This is one I hope to target simply by reaching out to teenagers through my novels. Kids know what is what and don't need to be preached to. We need to recognize that children are their own people, and they are independent, breathing entities that are going to make their own decisions. But I want to influence them. I want them to be so touched by my characters and to resonate so much with their lives and decisions that they change their lives. That they reach for something bigger. I want to motivate them to accomplish something greater. My novels are full with what I hope are very subliminal, uplifting messages.
The last five, I don't really have any specific ideas on. But I do know that great literature can inspire anyone, no matter what the issue is. Writing is not a catch-all that will cure every problem. But I do believe it can be targeted to help resolve many of the issues families face today.
Here's to hoping!