Palin, Prudence, and Parenting

My first inclination for this post was to write about the burgeoning controversy surrounding Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was recently invited to join Republican-nominee John McCain as his running mate.

No doubt this is news, as this appointment of a woman as VP is true history for the GOP, whether it is truly progress is up for debate. But in gathering my notes, thoughts, and stomach to lend keystrokes to a blog post and join the chatter of pundits, I began to loose momentum. Why you ask?

Maybe it was the rapidly expanding furor and conjecture over Palin the woman/mother, rather than Palin the candidate. Admittedly, Palin’s political career has been brief and lacking a great deal of applicable experience necessary to run a country. So, instead of getting hung up on bills authored, votes cast, and legislation passed, we get a political firefight involving sexism, gender equality, and parenting.

This is most assuredly eleventh-hour clamor, provided as a much-needed final act to a rudderless political campaign that threatens to unceremoniously sink with the reprehensible legacy of the current administration. It is cynical, misguided, and hopelessly sad when more than anything the citizens of this country need a serious awakening.

But, really, I don’t want to natter on about politics or Palin (at least not directly). Throughout all this widespread partisan noise, I was reminded of the astonishing degree of judgment and dismissal that is unwittingly invited into your life, like a warm blanket of smallpox, as a byproduct of parenthood. Palin is getting it from all sides, from being a working mom with five children, for not ceasing work for more than three days to provide devoted care for her newborn with Down Syndrome, and more infamously, for having a teenage daughter who is pregnant.

The logic, I assume, is that since her experience in the public sector is so thin, that she should be critiqued by her dominant experience, her parenting.

Politics aside, being a parent is an exceedingly complex responsibility that is fraught with a great deal of contentment, hesitation and self doubt, and the mere act of bringing a child into this world leaves you, the parent, completely open and vulnerable to constant evaluation and criticism from everyone around you. Some of this criticism may be rooted in genuine concern for the child, but most often it is just noise and gossip, as a means to gain that elusive sense of superiority. I have witnessed it, felt it, and deflected it, and no doubt you have too.

To be clear, this is not meant as a defense of Palin the candidate (I wish her the best with her existing role as governor of Alaska, and that is the absolute extent of my support for her!) but I do sympathize with any parent (mother or father) who routinely finds themselves the subject of so much odious scrutiny and trifling judgment. The sad truth of the matter is that skewering parents might just be as enduring and American as dirty cynical politics.

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appťtit among other publications.

Parenting at the Crossroads


Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago

This woman is an out and out WACKO. If I never see or hear from or about her again I will be a happy camper.

Camila K.
Kamila A6 years ago

she is not even Trig's mother!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!

anyone who admires her for anything other than being a greedy opportunist is just misled, and has bought the lies without any discernment.

Think of the character it takes, the nerve of her to think she could run for VP with this kind of reality behind her.

If she is the mother, then she gets the worst mother award for endangering the unborn child's life----in a high risk pregnancy, you don't wait after your water breaks to give a speech in Texas, then fly to the west coast, then fly to Alaska to give birth without doctors seeing you. This is just not possible.

This is kind of hilarious actually, that she pulled the wool over all your eyes.

Camila K.
Kamila A6 years ago

She's a great mother? ROFL!!!!!!

What kind of character does it take for you all to finally get it, that she is just a big fat liar, a narcissist, and a socially disordered psychopath.
She deplores abortion, and would take your rights away even under circumstances that are dire, but she wouldn't hesitate to kill the already living, and by the thousands. Some woman she is! What a character!

Ellinor S.
Ellinor S7 years ago

Awful article

Kerin Lee
Kerin Lee8 years ago

I personally LOVE Sarah Palin and think she is an excellent mother.

Phoenix Flame
Phoenix Flame9 years ago

Oh, I didn't know you lived with her. My mistake. Since you live in her home you must know what she does or doesn't do in her home and whether or not her home life is in a good state or not. The only thing I don't get is how it is some of your business.

Michelle T.
Michelle T9 years ago

While I really dislike the political ideals of the Rupublican candidates, we are all still human and nobody can be a perfect parent. While I certainly believe in standing up for one's beliefs and ideals, I find it distasteful to sling mud in the process. It just makes the person doing the slinging look like a fool. And enough with the pig/lipstick jokes. They are silly and just spread hatred and ill will amongst our fellow Americans. The political debate should be about the issues.

Don G.
Don G9 years ago

Ms Palin Needs to stay in Alaska and take care of her family first,if they mean anything to her. She doesn't represent much of what main stream America wants. I heard a joke today that the only difference between her and D. Cheney is lipstick!! welll said I think

naomi f.
naomi f9 years ago

Since, I am one of those people who left a comment on Palin's lack of parenting skills; let me explain. My comment was in reference to the subject of this story. There are too many silly people name calling,and making ridiculous assumptions about our thoughts; it's laughable! I believe that pointing out her lack of ability in her personal life, and the choices that she makes in her personallife do indeed affect her capability to make decisions for in our government. Also, stop portraying us as woman-haters. I consider myself one of the FEW woman in our country who truly understand what feminism is about. The fact that we want Palin to be responsible for her children IS, because she is a woman, as in the PERSON who brought them into the world. Stop allowing yourself to become distracted with what equality means, it doesn't exempt the fact that we were created different, for a reasons. The fact that Palin is a non-existent parent is an important reason why she votes on ridiculous laws that favor Pro-Control over woman. The fact that she believes in sadistic criminal acts against animals, is the reason she would vote on protecting these horrific practices, the fact that she is in the oil business is why she will vote on distroying our land and in dangering our environment. The list goes on and on. You who back McCain/Palin should open your eyes, and understand that our country is letting us down and we need change not more of the same.