Streams

Motherhood and Politics

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jill Greenlee, assistant professor of politics at Brandeis University, researches how becoming a mother affects a woman's politics.

Mothers, what do you think? Did you notice a change in your politics after having a child? Let us know!

Guests:

Jill Greenlee
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Comments [44]

Amy from Manhattan

To the commenters asking why becoming a parent would change someone's political philosophy, I think it's not just the change in parental status but that the change in their lives makes them aware of things they may have heard about but hadn't actually experienced before. The same kind of thing can happen to people who lose their jobs in a bad economy or have a factory/power plant/mine/fracking operation start spewing pollution near where they live.

Nov. 10 2011 12:04 PM
The Truth from Becky

To me this is equal to parents who force the "vegan" "vegetarian" lifestyle on their children who have not yet had the option to choose. I really don't get it. Most of us came up on "cow" and are just fine. Children will eventually go their own way in politics as well.

Nov. 10 2011 12:00 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I feel like apologizing to all men for this guest; to skew the conversation as being specifically about motherhood is sexist; most men I know grapple with these same issues.

And why does "mother" these days get equated with "soccer Mom" all the time? So cliche, classist, and suburban.

Nov. 10 2011 11:59 AM
JAck from Westchester

For me, it was a combination of events that led me down a path. When very young and in college, I was decidedly apolitical. After I got my undergraduate degree and started working, I started searching for a political identity via source materials on economics and political history. As soon as I was married, I became fairly conservative and even more so after my first and second sons were born. I would say that I am far more conservative in my lifestyle choices and child-rearing choices than many of my contemporaries. I vote in every election I consider myself informed on all the local and national issues.

Nov. 10 2011 11:59 AM

This is interesting to me. I don't have children but I live in Hoboken which is crawling with parents of young children and I definitely get a Republican/Conservative vibe from this new community. Also, while there is this huge surge of young parents voter turnout for Board of Ed elections are at historic lows. It might have something to do with their wealth (they all appear to be very well off - Hoboken has tons of luxury housing) and the fact that Hoboken has about 4-5 private schools (including Catholic and Jewish) and 3 charter schools. Also about 4 private pre-schools.

Nov. 10 2011 11:58 AM
The Truth from Becky

Don't get the whole change after childbirth crap....there are many other reasons to change, that does not sound like one of 'em!
C'mon ladies! I've never changed.

Nov. 10 2011 11:56 AM
Kimba Buchman from Greenwich CT

Pardon me - but did any of your callers consider the impact of having children on politics and values before having children? My partner and I during the '60's knew that having children would inhibit our political activity and didn't go for it. No regrets on either side.

Nov. 10 2011 11:56 AM
Andrea from NY

While nursing my baby in 2003, I heard a very loud noise from the street, which startled my baby. I then felt very anxious with the thought that there were probably may women nursing their children with the sounds of bombing in Iraq. How horrible it would be.

Nov. 10 2011 11:55 AM
L from Brooklyn

Wonders when parents will organize an Occupy Parenthood rally. We need a call for more rights for mothers, fathers and children - paid maternity and paternity leave, affordable childcare, etc.

Nov. 10 2011 11:54 AM
Xtina from E. Village

oh please enough with these self absorbed selfish people that think the world revolves around them - those problems all existed before you reproduced.

Nov. 10 2011 11:52 AM
David from Queens

How can you be a "lifelong" liberal and then change - apparently you weren't to begin with or you're now dead

Nov. 10 2011 11:52 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

Haven't been able to listen closely to this interesting segment, but I'm skeptical of the "liberal" to "conservative" post-parenthood transition. This would seem more likely to happen for people whose sociopolitical positions weren't too well thought out to begin with; who indulged in relatively superficial, label-level identity politics...

Nov. 10 2011 11:52 AM
Felicia Ballos

My husband and I have converted a schoolbus to a motor home and live practically self-sufficiently (almost completely...still working on it) with our 18 month old son. We have deepened our liberal stance since our son was born by challenging our sense of consumerism, and what most people demand of themselves as parents (working constantly to have money is the big one... We like to learn to do and make the things we need for ourselves so that we can spend time with our son and teach him to value these ways.) We will be homeschooling and we are like to eat well, so we have become even larger supporters of locally grown grown food. Our politics have become more intense in support of any policies that effect the little guys and the DIYers.

Nov. 10 2011 11:51 AM
Meghan from Port Washington

Becoming a mother has made me more liberal. Particularly as a working mother and the mother of two girls, there are so many policies and programs that I hope they will be able to have that I was not able to take advantage of, such as access to better childcare, maternity leave, and other social programs. I am more motivated to politically involved and demonstrate to them that their voice and vote can be heard and needs to be heard.

Nov. 10 2011 11:51 AM
Meghan from Port Washington

Becoming a mother has made me more liberal. Particularly as a working mother and the mother of two girls, there are so many policies and programs that I hope they will be able to have that I was not able to take advantage of, such as access to better childcare, maternity leave, and other social programs. I am more motivated to politically involved and demonstrate to them that their voice and vote can be heard and needs to be heard.

Nov. 10 2011 11:50 AM
Meghan from Port Washington

Becoming a mother has made me more liberal. Particularly as a working mother and the mother of two girls, there are so many policies and programs that I hope they will be able to have that I was not able to take advantage of, such as access to better childcare, maternity leave, and other social programs. I am more motivated to politically involved and demonstrate to them that their voice and vote can be heard and needs to be heard.

Nov. 10 2011 11:49 AM
Em

This piece Illustrates how self-centred a species we are, and how our natural empathy is discouraged from our childhood. Why on earth should having children, marriage or bereavement change your political philosophy? Our education system is failing us miserably when we have to reach those stages in our lives to form such important decisions.

Nov. 10 2011 11:48 AM
debra from Brooklyn

I there, I grew up in the UK where I was raised my a family who were true Concervatives, coming here I was completely confused. Because I am not a bible bashing anti abortionist. So I have to say the more I learnt about the politics of the US. I was convinced being a democrat was the only sane way to go. Since having convinced my family at home that if they all lived here they would be too. I have two teens and I think growing up in NY has influenced their judgement for the better I will be proud to see them vote for the first time next year !

Nov. 10 2011 11:44 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

Parenthood has absolutely affected my political views- in one way making me more liberal. I vote as an independent now looking at both parties, rather than just the democratic party, which has raised my awareness of issues on both sides.
Re: community- I think being a parent both ties you closer to your community and also exposes the problems with it I was unaware of before- there is a judgement among some other parents I never expected to encounter. judgement of other parents that can sometimes be suffocating.
Would be interesting to hear from parents of special needs kids as well.

Nov. 10 2011 11:44 AM
Elizabeth from Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn

If anything I'm more liberal. Being on the front lines of public education with budget cuts and 2 kids in school and being a PTA president has made me realize that the fiscal priorities of our country in these tough times seem to be moving AWAY from an idea of the 'common good' (ie: taxes to pay for roads, schools, police etc) and towards a small-government 'every man for himself' kind of society which is the wrong direction for us to be going in.

Nov. 10 2011 11:44 AM
Ryan from Barcelona, Spain

P.S. As a US citizen I am UNABLE to vote in the Spanish elections, yet still excercise my democratic right/responsibility in the US elections.

Nov. 10 2011 11:44 AM
Laura from UWS

Problems with this segment:
1. Definition of terms is needed. Confusing social and political views, left out "Libertarian"
2. Almost all of America's media has a Conservative political bias, so how can said mothers even know what political positions really are. For example, Rush Limbaugh just said that if not for a few shows on MSNBC there would be no Liberal news. Also, Sarah Palin reads John Birch Society news so she thinks that Democrats are dangerous Stalinists.

I'd be much more interested in knowing what mothers experience in their own perceptions of their needs and their family's future. What new horizons? What gets left behind?

Nov. 10 2011 11:43 AM
Estelle

My politics have not changed. And I still think gender differences are 90% social constructs, reinforced by parents---especially dads who are paranoid about making their sons gay.

Nov. 10 2011 11:43 AM
Dayna Harris

It was only after having my children that I started to actively reach out to those in need- donate directly to victims of natural disasters and rally in Washington to Save Darfur, for example. I felt/feel more a mother to all the children on this earth!

Nov. 10 2011 11:43 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Allan Sherman addressed this long before Jon Stewart, in his 1963 song (w/Lou Busch) "Harvey and Sheila" (to the tune of "Hava Nagilah").

Early in their marriage, the couple "on election day, worked for JFK," but once they have kids & buy a house, they "switched to the GOP--that's the way things go"!

Nov. 10 2011 11:41 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

Wow, I can soooo relate to Karen from NYC's comment. I too am a space alien in corporate America for the pay rate, for the sake of my lil puddin...

Nov. 10 2011 11:41 AM
Ryan from Barcelona, Spain

Living in Spain and being a parent of two children (7 & 2-1/2y.o.) my wife (spanish) and I have participated in, contributed to and surely reaped the benefits of a socialized healthcare system and socialized education. Now that elections are nearing (nov 20th) and cuts are being proposed by the opposition, there is a looming fear that a shift toward the right will cripple these fundmental elements of Spanish society.

Nov. 10 2011 11:39 AM
John A.

Mother (D), Father (R). Didn't change until about 2004, with father in shame.

Nov. 10 2011 11:39 AM
Ramin Ganeshram from Westport, CT

My politics have not only not changed, but I've become more liberal. Having my child to care for has opened my eyes as to the condition of other families and kids. I've become more active in politics, events, and community work that helps families and children--because I feel I can extrapolate a clear benefit by looking at how my own child thrives in a loving and fortunate environment.

I am also more concerned about the state of the world--because my daughter will inherit it. It's important to me to teacher her activism as a responsibility--more than when I was childless.

Where I HAVE become more conservative is that I have less sympathy for those who might appear to make less effort for their children or those who commit crimes against children or the weakest. In the past, I would have been more willing to hear their reasons, excuses or past drivers to their behavior, now I'm a bit more black and white about the right and wrong regarding issues of harm to children and families.

Nov. 10 2011 11:38 AM
Jake from Metuchen, NJ

I never commented before, but this time I couldn't pass. Being a parent actually made us, me and my wife become more progressive. For me it turned me into a gay activist. As a devoted Roman Catholic, my wife and I are just unbelievably shocked by our government's continued sponsored discrimination against other gay parents with regard to marriage inequality. As a dad of 2 girls, my wife and I are just so grateful for the legal protection and stability that marriage affords us, and we fundamentally believe any other 2 human beings who wants that same right, gay or not, should have it. This is the only area I feel that Pres. Obama has failed.

Nov. 10 2011 11:38 AM
Ramin Ganeshram from Westport, CT

My politics have not only not changed, but I've become more liberal. Having my child to care for has opened my eyes as to the condition of other families and kids. I've become more active in politics, events, and community work that helps families and children--because I feel I can extrapolate a clear benefit by looking at how my own child thrives in a loving and fortunate environment.

I am also more concerned about the state of the world--because my daughter will inherit it. It's important to me to teacher her activism as a responsibility--more than when I was childless.

Where I HAVE become more conservative is that I have less sympathy for those who might appear to make less effort for their children or those who commit crimes against children or the weakest. In the past, I would have been more willing to hear their reasons, excuses or past drivers to their behavior, now I'm a bit more black and white about the right and wrong regarding issues of harm to children and families.

Nov. 10 2011 11:38 AM
Dee from New York City

Is there a distinction between the values of a woman that is apt to choose motherhood, as opposed to women's views changing once they become mothers? For example, a very conservative women I know feel it's her role and obligation to procreate, so she did. Conversely, some liberal women feel the planet is full. This viewpoint is a position of great contention to some conservatives I know. So, is it change that happens BECAUSE of becoming mothers, or in spite of it?

Nov. 10 2011 11:37 AM

I support the caller in a previous segment who considered his economic situation before having a child. With the world population at 7 billion the future generation faces difficulties of restraint. One way to support the next generation is to relieve those who have no children from the burden of taxation that supports those who indiscriminately reproduce.

Nov. 10 2011 11:36 AM
Severn from Brooklyn

Being a parent if anything has made me more liberal - I realize the importance of the social safety net and the social compact. I also understand now that single parenting would be very hard - all the Republican rhetoric about welfare moms coasting along on government handouts have no clue what they're talking about.

Nov. 10 2011 11:36 AM
allan greenberg from scarsdale

If anything I've become more of a liberal democrat. Before children I worried about the world I was living in. Now I worry even more about the world we are leaving for our children.

Nov. 10 2011 11:35 AM
Bernard from Bronx

So it's really all about self-interest, isn't it?

Nov. 10 2011 11:34 AM
ellen diamond from Manhattan

a) Some might say grizzly bear mothers overreact slightly... : - )

b) This discussion reminds me of the Robert Frost lines: "They would not find me changed from him they knew - only more sure of all I thought was true."

Nov. 10 2011 11:33 AM
Iris N from nj

I have been a liberal my whole life , with Union a organizing dad and many teachers etc in my family. While my external politics are liberal, my internal politics in my household ie watching tv programs, marijuana use etc I 'm pretty conservative. That being said my children are even more progressive than myself. They see their world shrinking and there is a push back from them for more openess than my liberal generation experienced.

Nov. 10 2011 11:32 AM
Ryan Tatar from Long island

Postpartum conservatism?! This adds a whole new dimension to the impact of hormones.

-kidding

-HUGE fan, love your show.

Nov. 10 2011 11:31 AM
Elizabeth from Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn

My feelings about gender changed, I suddenly realized that gender is real, and not just a social construct! Boys and girls are wired differently in noticeable ways.

Nov. 10 2011 11:29 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

My parents were liberal/progressive before I was born. They were liberal/progressive while I was a kid. They are liberal/progressive now that I'm an adult.

Nov. 10 2011 11:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

One thing for sure about Liberals, they'll never be concerned about what's best for fathers! Under feminyst liberalism, father = sperm bank + ATM machine.

Nov. 10 2011 11:28 AM
Karen from NYC

My politics have not changed one iota since my son was born, nearly 23 years ago; I was a progressive Democrat both then and now. If anything, I am more committed politically, because it's his future that the Republicans are jeopardizing, not merely my own.

What has changed, however, is my lifestyle. As main support of my family, I felt compelled to take jobs in a "corporate" sector that paid well, but in which I felt, frankly, like a space alien. Life has been isolating (I post a lot) and frustrating and, regarding career success and general happiness, I probably would have been better off had I not become a "Mom."

What I'd do differently, however -- if I could talk to my younger self -- would be to figure out how to get by on the very small income that I'd have earned in the public interest sector. I truly regret my career choices, but not my decision to become a parent.

Nov. 10 2011 11:08 AM

I've read studies that it depends on the sex of the child. The findings suggest boys make parents become more conservative, and girls make parents become more liberal.

Nov. 10 2011 11:02 AM

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