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Family First

Thayn responds to mass criticism

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Last week Rep. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, called the BW offices and wanted to talk about the work his legislative task force on families has been up to (yeah, we were surprised, too).

Turns out Thayn doesn't feel his views were accurately portrayed in an article published in the Idaho Statesman, outlining the task force's views on stay-at-home mothers, no-fault divorces and other matters.

The conservative representative has been widely blasted for saying that more women should be staying home to raise children and that the state's no-fault divorce policy should be abolished. Thayn, though, takes exception to that.

"They got it a little bit wrong, the no-fault divorce," Thayn said. "We said we should look at the issue. They said we had embraced abolishing it. We never talked about keeping mothers at home. We talked about the issue of why they're leaving."

"We're surprised to hear that, because the day the article ran Rep. Thayn called reporter Heath Druzin to say he was happy that we had treated him fairly and that the article had represented his views very well," said Bill Manny, managing editor at the Statesman.

Thayn said his group doesn't plan on crafting new laws.

"We've been focusing too much on the role of government and not enough on the impact parents have," he said. Thayn, who has eight children, said the task force is looking at what can be done to strengthen families.

Thayn argues that the group is not promoting the traditional family, but to study the characteristics of successful families.

When it comes to stay-at-home mothers, Thayn said the group is just taking a snap-shot of the modern family.

"Do mothers want to be back in the home? And, if so, what can we do to assist them to come back," he said. "We never said we were going to keep mothers at home. What we did say is we think there's some advantages. But that's not our call. That's the call of the moms and dads."

Thayn is also responding to news that his oldest son, Damon Thayn, 28, was arrested and charged with domestic battery in April. According to the police report, the incident started as a verbal argument and escalated when Damon allegedly threw his wife to the ground and held her arms. While neighbors called the police, the argument moved into the bedroom, where Damon is charged with holding his wife down on the bed and covering her mouth.

As a first-time offender, Damon pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace and was ordered to pay a fine, court costs and attend anger-management classes.

"He's quite an emotional guy," Thayn said of his son. "Damon really wants to have a strong relationship with his wife, and he realized that he had let it get out of control. There's not physical violence, this is a misdemeanor case.

"We never criticized either one of them," he said. "We said, 'listen, this is a problem you have. You have to learn to communicate; you need to work on your marriage.'"

While his detractors are happy to point to the irony of the arrest, Thayn said it proves he knows what he's talking about.

"We're just a typical family. We have our problems, too," he said. "It's no embarrassment for me. He's a good kid. They're expecting right now. They're working on their marriage."