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Swiss proposals on how to 'save the family' -- easier said than done?

''It would be wonderful, if only it were possible,'' exclaimed the mother of three young children.

Hers was a typical reaction to the sweeping recommendations made by a ''Save the Family'' report just released by the Swiss Department of the Interior.

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Clearly the need is great. Every third marriage in Switzerland ends in the divorce courts. Recent youth riots have focused attention on the problems facing this affluent society's traditional social structure. An ever-sharpening division between the home and the workplace is recognized as a major threat to family unity.

What to do about it?

The Swiss commission, representing all walks of life, came up with 160 pages of suggestions. But what ''should'' be done is a long way from what ''will'' be done - as the Zurich housewife aptly pointed out.

The essence of the report was summarized by the commission's president, Anne Marie Hoechli-Zen Ruffinen: ''For hundreds of years the family has adapted to the demands of the workplace, instead of the other way around. This must change.''

Sociology professor Kurt Luescher, a commission member, added: ''The contribution which the family makes to society must be recognized. It carries at least 75 percent of the financial burden of rearing future generations.''

Among the report's proposals:

* Employers have a duty to create part-time work and flexible hours so parents can better balance family and professional life. The parent who might decide to stay home fulltime while children are young must have more opportunity to reenter the workforce.

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* Family apartments should be protected against speculators replacing them with better-paying bachelor flats and office units.

* There should be a parent's leave in the first year after a child's birth.

* Child allowances and tax deductions should better reflect the financial burden of rearing future generations.

* Most homes are ''inhabiting machines'' for sleeping, eating, body care, and preparing food. They should be the ''vessel of the family,'' where each can have his own place to experiment and develop, more play areas.

* Child-care centers, kindergartens, day schools should be developed so both parents can have jobs if they wish.

Some young mothers see problems in realizing the proposals. Marianne Grima, who worked until her son was born, remarked: ''I do not see much chance of role sharing. Swiss men have a clear idea of just who should look after the children - the wife.''

And some employers may find it hard to support the idea of a parent's leave, or part-time jobs, in the present economic downturn.

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