Week Two: Answers to your Questions About Parenthood + Political Views
Prior to having children, I was a Republican. Three children later, I find myself addicted to CNN and MSNBC, attending marches and wanting to have come-to-Jesus talks with friends who are Trump supporters. What caused the drastic political change?
Becoming a parent and raising children is one of the most profound and challenging life-changing experiences. It’s therefore not a surprise that you are finding that your political views have shifted following this transition. I’d be curious to hear more specifically about which aspects of your political beliefs have changed to better understand how this reflects your role as a parent.
In their book The Politics of Parenthood, Causes and Consequences of the Politicization and Polarization of the American Family, Laurel Elder and Steven Greene write about how having and raising children greatly impacts one’s political priorities, attitudes, and behaviors. Using both quantitative and qualitative analyses, Elder and Greene’s results support the idea that time spent raising children has liberalizing political effects. Their analyses show that parents differ from their peers without children in terms of their political attitudes on many critical issues.
To summarize, both parties have politicized parenthood and the family over the last several decades, but their messages about what pro-family and pro-parent policies should look like differ quite a bit. Laurel and Elder (2012) write the following:
The Republican party has promoted a wide array of social policies as ways to strengthen parental rights and help parents protect their children from illicit societal influences…In contrast, Democrats appealed to American parents by pledging more government regulation (e.g., mandating family leave policies, raising the minimum wage, implementing more environmental regulations, supporting a more generous social safety net) and endorsing policies supporting a broader array of lifestyle choices and family arrangements. (p. 4)
It would make sense that as a parent, you would place more importance on issues that are directly related to raising children such as funding for education and safety, protection, and security. It is more than likely that you are not alone in your experience of changing political beliefs as the transition to parenthood presents us with powerful and long-term changes that greatly impact our political priorities and beliefs.
Elder, L. & Greene, S. (2012). The politics of parenthood: Causes and consequences of the politicization and polarization of the American family. Albany, NY: State University of New York press.