Motherhood and teen pregnancy take center stage in presidential election

Photo Credit: Associated PressPhoto Credit: Associated PressEven if you don't have kids, chances are high that when you're talking about the current presidential election, motherhood and teen pregnancy are going to be mentioned. It's hard to avoid when Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, a mom of five children -- the youngest only four months old with Down syndrome -- could be the country's first vice president. If this weren't enough fodder, the staunch conservative who believes that sex education means promoting an abstinence-only message, recently announced that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant.

The questions that all of Sarah Palin's issues raise...where to begin? Here are a few that crossed my mind since all of this news broke:

  • Are we sending conflicting messages about teen pregnancy?: Of course Gov. Palin and her husband love and support their pregnant teenage daughter. Of course they'll say they're excited about having their first grandchild. And that daughter, Bristol, is making the right choice by keeping the baby. Palin is pro-life and has to walk the talk. But teen pregnancy rates are up. Should we be concerned about the message we're sending to young girls? Is this yet another example of glamourizing teen pregnancy? Or will Bristol's pregnancy perhaps give way to discussions about sex education? (Unlikely).
  • How will Palin successfully parent her kids? Listen, perhaps this shouldn't matter and I shouldn't care. And I'm not asking the same question about Barack Obama, who also has two young daughters. (And, yes, maybe I should be asking the same questions.) But I care about how she'll be a mom to her kids while she's helping to run the country. By the time Palin were to enter a vice presidential term, her baby son would still be under a year old and he has special needs. She also has older teens (19 and 17) and young teen daughter and another who is seven years old. I'm certain that her husband is awesome and supportive but that is one big family. Once point of view that really hit me was from Sally Quinn, a reporter for the Washington Post, who wrote: "When the phone rings at three in the morning and one of her children is really sick what choice will she make?"
  • Does her daughter's pregnancy make Palin more appealing because she's not a perfect parent? Clearly the abstinence-only message didn't reach her daughter like mom intended because now Bristol's knocked up and has to marry a boy that she may or may not even love. She's being touted as a super mom and this bit of news clearly shows she's not as perfect as some would like us to believe.
  • Why did Palin decide to put her family through such intense scrutiny? I think this question still boggles me the most. I don't want to judge any parent. And as a woman and a mom, I really, really want to like her. I want to feel inspired by her. But I can't understand why she decided to basically throw her teenage daughter under a microscope. Yes, her daughter made a choice to have sex and she's paying the price. But do you think she knew her mom would be blasting her business across the news a few months later?

Okay, your turn. What's your take on how motherhood and teen pregnancy are hot buttons for the presidential election? And, of course, what's your take on Sarah Palin?

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