9/10/2008

Sarah Palin: Pro-Family?

When I first read of McCain's pick for vice president, I laughed. It's struck me as ironic that the Republican's would nominate a woman for vice president when the Democrats, self-proclaimed advocates for woman's rights, treated Hilary Clinton with such severity. I did some light reading on her. You would think that feminists would be thrilled at the prospect of a woman vice president. Instead, the articles I read dripped with vitriol. Apparently, her pro-life position means that she isn't truly representative of women. Aside from an obvious lack of experience on the international scene, her politics seemed to be in order. Pro-life, pro-family, an apparently average woman, just what the Republicans need to give Obama a run for his money... or at least make the American election a little more interesting.
Then I had a chat with my brother. He mentioned the fact that her teenage daughter was pregnant and she had a six-month old baby with Down's Syndrome. (She also has an older son and a 7 year old daughter.) I am loathe to say anything about the situation with her daughter, since not only do I not know the entire situation, the girl is 17 and even the best mother cannot prevent rebellion completely.
But, I did start thinking about her young baby.
He's six months.
He has Down's Syndrome.
I just have to ask: why isn't she at home? Isn't she pro-family?
More reading revealed that Palin has been a career politician since about 1992. (If Wiki is wrong, please send me the correct information.) In other words, she's never been a stay at home, at least not for any length of time. She's always had a career, mostly in politics.
How can she claim to be pro-family when she hasn't spent the proper amount of time looking after her own?
Some will ask: "Well, what is the proper amount of time and who are you to judge?" and so on.
The proper amount of time maybe debatable, but the minimum is certainly until they are in school. A career ought to come second to the needs of one's family.
About half of all the information a child will need for the rest of its life is collected before age five. This has huge implications for things like the environment we choose to place our children in and discipline. Only parents can truly parent their kids properly. Outside help and/or daycare is not a substitute for proper parenting. Nearly all early childhood research that I have looked at shows that children placed in daycare do not bond properly with their parents during the critical first five years of their life and as a direct result develop poor social skills, have disciplinary problems, are more inclined to inappropriate aggression. These things, like it or not, do affect them later on in life. In fact, I can honestly say that I haven't found a single work so far extolling the benefits of daycare for children. All are negative. (But, should anyone know of anything, by all means send it to me.)
This brings me to the fact Palin claims to be a devout Christian. Since I don't know her, I can't question the sincerity of her walk. However, I would certainly ask whether or not she has thought through some of the implications of being a Christian when it comes to raising one's family. We confess that "children are a gift of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3) If this is true, then as parents, both mothers and fathers, we ought to make our families a priority over a career. The Bible does give us certain directives on how we are to raise our children, especially as regards teaching them the things of God. (Deut.4: 9,10, Deut. 11: 19, Ps. 34:11, Pr. 1: 8, Pr 3:1) If at least one parent is not at home then someone else is teaching your children. You need a way to guarantee that the primary caregiver is teaching your kids what God would have them learn. Even if your kids are with your parents this may not be possible. Even if your parents are Christians, you may have differences in opinion over theology or more practical applications of the Christian walk. It definitely will not happen if your child is out in daycare or under the care of unbelievers.
I would also argue that if a woman cannot properly care for her family, which is relatively small, can we be assured that she will be competent in caring for the country? Scripture indicates that the ability to lead one's family well is a prerequisite for leadership in the church (see 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1). I think Christians can fairly extend this test of fitness to government as well. If you can't parent, can you properly govern? Should you govern? Perhaps your time is wiser spent dealing with your family problems first. Govern the country when your affairs are in order.
It must be noted that I do not take issue with women who must work in order to feed their families. I recognize that in a few cases, if both parents do not work, the family will not eat. However, not only are these cases relatively rare in this country (generally if both parents work, it is to sustain a lifestyle) it is definitely not the case for Sarah Palin.

It has bothered me to no end the uncritical support I see conservatives throwing Ms. Palin's way. Generally, people are over-joyed at her strong pro-life stance. Being pro-life is all well and good, but I am sorry to say it is not the only relevant issue. You cannot gloss over her many defects just because she champions a cause you feel strongly about. Yes, she is pro-life. But is she truly worthy of the title pro-family?
I would argue not.

10 comments:

gerry said...

I hope you reread your article and note how ridiculous you sound. You don't like her so you try to diminish her worth by saying that she is not a good mother because she actually feels the need to do something for her country. How trite of you.
My only question is why aren't you with your children instead of writing these articles, and if you have no children how dare you even pontificate on this matter.

Shane said...

You raise some good points, and you aren't the first. I know Kathy Shaidle has raised similar points as well, amongst others.

I am going to try and group my response for convenience.

First, theological. She is running for office, not for church office. The principles laid out in Timothy and Titus are specifically oriented towards men. They cannot practically be held to women because they are not designed to address women. They are also not designed to address political office. That being said, I do agree that if one cannot govern one's family, one cannot lead well. The difference here is the responsibility for (to make an example, her daughter's pragnancy) I believe falls on the father. While there is no question in my mind that however good a Mom Sarah is, her work outside the home likely contributed to a lack of guidance for her daughter's romatic entanglements.

But let me ask this: if there was rampant corruption in government where you lived, and nobody else was stepping up, was what she did not done for the greater good of everyone? Yes, she paid a price in terms of her family's relationships. But the price was paid sacrificially for the good of 400 000 other Alaskans.

Now, she is Governor. She becomes pregnant after a few months in office. Call it a guess, but I don't think she planned on it. Should she have quit being governor as soon as she found out? Perhaps, but then again who would replace her? If there was no suitable replacement, it would have been irresponsible especially in view of her care of the entire state.

Then McCain asks her to run as VP. I have to believe that there were many reasons for choosing her, from negating the race card as an issue to her record as a corruption cleaner to her obvious skill and charisma at public speaking - both of which were lacking in McCain to degrees. She has an opportunity to do more of what she ran for office to do. To help not just Alaska, but all of America. Yes, she will pay a price in terms of her family (though not as high as she did in Alaska - I don't believe she moved her family to Juneau while in office, whereas she will certainly move the family to Washington while she is in office). But there is a greater good being served by her being there.

Then the pragmatic. Is her sacrifice not worth keeping Barack Obama from the Presidency? I am sorry, but the cult-like following that he has going, devoid of anything resembling experience or even real ideas, I have to think he would simply be a disaster for America. As VP she will have every tool in America at her disposal to see that her family is well taken care of. Yes, ideally she would be the primary caregiver to her children. But who in the entire world lives an ideal life? We all make choices and sacrifices that affect our family and children. We should all be striving to do the maximum good and the minimum harm. But there are tradeoffs, and a loving family will see that here in an opportunity for them all to participate in something greater than themselves. That dealing with their mother's involvement in politics allows them to participate in something that has the potential to affect millions of Americans.

Her newest little son will not get as much Mommy time as would be ideal. But neither does the child of the single Moms of America, while she has no choice but to work at the restaurant down the street. Would that we could fix everything in the world, but we can't. I see Palin as not a mom who can do it all, but as a mom with skills and the chance to do something great, and have her family participate in it. I think America would be the poorer if we told her to sit down and go home, while on the left career women are idolized and given every chance to succeed.

Some of the most significant players in history have been females. Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto, Queen Elizabeth I and II), Catherine the Great, the list goes on. Should they have all been disqualified from history because they had kids they should have been taking care of?

No, what it comes down to is this: if Palin has agreed with her family to take on the responsibility of this nomination, that was their choice. They can make a contribution and it may be a great one. No violence, no damage is being done here. No, it's not optimal for the health of everyone, but you know what? I don't think it's healthy to live with the stress and pressure of the entire free world on your shoulders either. It's probably not good for your health. Does that mean there shouldn't be a president? No. It means there should be someone who counts the cost and finds it worth the sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

geesh, the father has said that he will be a stay at home Dad while she is in the White House.
From what I read of your blog you know almost nothing about the particulars of Sarah Pallin but allllllll about your generalities.

To make such blanket statements about her with such little knowledge is just plain ignorance. From what I've read, the interviews I have seen of her (I saw the 2 Glenn Beck interviews that were done months before her nominations), she is the most pro Christian American Govenor I have ever seen and she walks the walk as well. If all you can do in response is criticize based on almost no information just like the rest of the main stream press...I would say be happy with your marxist, black liberation theology Obama because that's all you deserve.

Ruth said...

gerry:
I am with my children. If you have ever read my blog before you would know I am a stay at home mom. This article was written during nap time. (points to date and time stamp)

Anonymous:
I am not criticizing based on almost no information. How can a woman be at home with her kids and be out at work as mayor, ethics commissioner, governor and now VP?
Happy with my marxist, black liberation theology Obama? Not only am I not American, I'm not a Democrat, not marxist and don't think Obama will be good for the US. None of that means I should fall over backwards and tout Ms. Palin as something she clearly is not. She says she is pro-family: does her life add up to that?

Shane:
Your comments are fair.( Except, of course about your choice of women in history, I would knock both Queen Elizabeth I and II off the list, since queen's don't get a choice and are born into position.)
It's not likely that her latest addition was planned, given her age. But, I am not sure how relevant that is since looking at her resume, it does not appear as though she has every stayed home with any of her kids It's hard to ask the question though of who would have replaced her. That's a hypothetical. As it is, she did not step down so there was no need to replace her.
McCain certainly had his reasons for choosing her as his running mate, not the least of which was her appeal to middle class conservative America. I just don't think she will help keep Obama out of office.

You do make one comment that is worth reflecting on:
"if Palin has agreed with her family to take on the responsibility of this nomination"
This is one aspect of her nomination that no one but she and her family can know. No one can know what the family discussion surrounding her nomination looked like. Did she go to her husband and seek his permission or advice first? To what extent was the family involved in the decision? Or did Sarah decide for Sarah?

gerry said...

Well congratulations on your decision to stay home with your kids.
Again that was your decision for whatever reason you had for doing so. Palin would never criticize you for your choice so why should you. The irony of all this is that you have a woman who may eventually reach the highest office in the world and yet women seem to feel that her ambition should be a stay at home mom. You seem to be maintaining the male idea that the only place for a woman is in the kitchen, which is why women struggle so hard to obtain even a modicum of respect. Palin can change all that and all you can say is that she should be in the kitchen. Why even bother with equality if that is all you believe that a woman should aspire to.
Men must assume a greater nurturing role something which is definitely happening with her husband. Can you say the same about your husband?

Ruth said...

"Men must assume a greater nurturing role something which is definitely happening with her husband. Can you say the same about your husband?"

As a matter of fact, yes I can.
And you know what else? He is not only an excellent father, but a gentleman as well, who would never address me with the disrespect or disdain you show. He would never suggest that I am "only" fit for the kitchen or "just" a stay at home mom.. He realizes that our children are precious and ought to receive the best care possible. To this end, we both make enormous sacrifices. At no point have I ever said that a woman not have a job outside the home. It would be hypocritical of me to do so, since once my children are in school I will have to work in order to be able to afford said school.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's supper time. I need to be in my kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't you be posting on LibLogs?

Ruth said...

No.

Shane said...

I put Lizzy on the list because while she was born to it, she was by no means obligated to it. There were lots of men who could have stepped into the roles. I think in both cases of Lizzy I and II they were convinced they were the best person for the job, despite being a woman. We can't say how things would have gone had they been replaced with a cousin or an uncle, but history has been the better for their leadership.

You're right though. We can't know what process the family used to determine to accept the VP nomination. Which is why I decline to criticize her on the grounds of her motherhood. The fact is she much more closely represents true feminism than any other feminist public figure I have seen in the USA. As such I am glad to see her on the ticket.

Ruth said...

"I put Lizzy on the list because while she was born to it, she was by no means obligated to it. There were lots of men who could have stepped into the roles."

Into the role of King?
No there wasn't.
Succession to the throne follows a particular order which is dictated by law. It can't just be changed on a whim because there are no male heirs! The crown of England is passed on by male-preference primogeniture (ie: males first, in order of age). Henry VII had Edward VI, who was king for a time but he died leaving no offspring. That left Mary (who deposed Jane) and Elizabeth to duke it out... which they had to do since really, they were at both one time declared illegitimate. George VI had no sons at all. In the case of no sons, the crown passes to the oldest female child. Illegitimate children are not considered for the crown (note my previous comment on Mary and Elizabeth). In the case of no children, relatives are then considered, beginning with any brothers of the king (or queen).

So, please tell me who you think could have been king instead of Elizabeth I or II???

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