Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

The Forum

A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics

Ed. by Disalvo, Daniel / Stonecash, Jeffrey


IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.500
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.623

CiteScore 2018: 0.83

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.595
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.631

Online
ISSN
1540-8884
See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 14, Issue 2

Issues

Red Parents, Blue Parents: The Politics of Modern Parenthood

Laurel Elder / Steven Greene
Published Online: 2016-07-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2016-0013

Abstract

Over the past several decades the major parties in the US have not only politicized parenthood, but have come to offer increasingly polarized views of the ideal American family. This study builds on recent scholarship exploring the political impact of parenthood (e.g. Elder, Laurel, and Steven Greene. 2012a. The Politics of Parenthood: Causes and Consequences of the Politicization and Polarization of the American Family. Albany, NY: SUNY Press; Greenlee, Jill. 2014. The Political Consequences of Motherhood. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.) by comparing Republican and Democratic parents in terms of family structure as well as attitudes about parental roles and child rearing. This study draws on a fairly unique data set, the Pew Research Center’s Gender and Generations Survey, as well as more traditional data sets, to further our understanding of the politics of modern parenthood in the United States. We find that the starkly contrasted red families versus blue families painted in some research and news commentary does not hold up when examined with individual level data. On average, Republican and Democratic parents start their families at the same age and have the same number of kids. And despite the parties’ polarized messages about the ideal family structure, Republican moms are just as likely to be working as Democratic moms. Where partisanship does divide red and blue families is on attitudes about working mothers and perhaps most interestingly, when it comes to the way men conceptualize their roles and performance as fathers. Democratic dads possess more egalitarian attitudes about parenting and less authoritarian attitudes about child-rearing, and, perhaps because they expect more from themselves as care-givers, they struggle more with work-family balance and are less satisfied with themselves as parents. In contrast, Republican fathers embrace more traditional views about parenting and parental authority and rate themselves more highly as parents. This study concludes by exploring the implications of the politics of modern parenthood for the 2016 presidential election and beyond.

References

  • Bianchi, Suzanne M., John P. Robinson, and Melissa A. Milkie. 2006. Changing Rhythms of American Family Life. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar

  • Brooks, David. 2006. “The New Red-Diaper Babies.” The New York Times, December 7, sec. A.

  • Cahn, Naomi, and June Carbone. 2011. Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Carbone, June, and Naomi Cahn. 2014. Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Carroll, Susan J. 1999. “The Disempowerment of the Gender Gap: Soccer Moms and the 1996 Election”. PS: Political Science and Politics 32: 7–12.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Carroll, Susan J. 2008. “Security Moms and Presidential Politics: Women Voters in the 2004 Election.” Chapter in Voting the Gender Gap, edited by Lois Duke Whitaker, 75–90. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar

  • Cohn, Nate. 2015. “The Parent Agenda, The Emerging Democratic Focus.” The New York Times, February 10, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/10/upshot/the-parent-agenda-the-emerging-democratic-focus.html?abt=0002&abg=0.

  • Colby, Sandra L., and Jennifer M. Ortman. 2014. Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060, Current Population Reports, P25-1143, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2014.

  • De Parle, Jason, and Sabrina Tavernise. 2012. “For Women Under 3, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage.” The New York Times, February 17, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/us/for-women-under-30-most-births-occur-outside-marriage.html.

  • Elder, Laurel, and Steven Greene. 2007. “The Myth of ‘Security Moms’ and ‘NASCAR Dads: Parenthood, Political Stereotypes, and the 2004 Election.” Social Science Quarterly 88 (1): 1–19.Google Scholar

  • Elder, Laurel, and Steven Greene. 2008. “Parenthood and the Gender Gap.” Chapter in The Gender Gap: Voting and the Sexes, edited by Lois Duke Whitaker, 119–140. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar

  • Elder, Laurel, and Steven Greene. 2012a. The Politics of Parenthood: Causes and Consequences of the Politicization and Polarization of the American Family. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Elder, Laurel, and Steven Greene. 2012b. “The Politics of Parenthood: Parenthood Effects on Issue Attitudes and Candidate Evaluations in 2008.” American Politics Research 40 (3): 418–448.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Freeman, Jo. 1993. “Feminism vs. Family Values: Women at the 1992 Democratic and Republican Conventions.” PS: Political Science and Politics 26 (2): 21–28.Google Scholar

  • Freeman, Jo. 1997. “Change and Continuity for Women at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.” The American Review of Politics 18 (Winter): 353–367.Google Scholar

  • Gallagher, Sally K., and Naomi Gerstel. 2001. “Connections and Constraints: The Effects of Children on Caregiving.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 63: 265–275.Google Scholar

  • Golberg, Wendy A., Erin Kelly, Nicole L. Matthews, Hannah Kang, Weilin Lim, and Mariya Sumaroka. 2012. “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Gender, Culture, and College Students’ Views about Work and Family.” Journal of Social Issues 68 (4): 814–837.Google Scholar

  • Greenlee, Jill. 2010. “Soccer Moms, Hockey Moms and the Question of “Transformative” Motherhood.” Politics & Gender 6 (3): 405–432.Google Scholar

  • Greenlee, Jill. 2014. The Political Consequences of Motherhood. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar

  • Harden, Blaine. 2007. “Numbers Drop for the Married With Children: Institution Becoming the Choice of the Educated, Affluent”. Washington Post. March 4, 2005. A3.

  • Hays, Sharin. 1996. The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

  • Hetherington, Marc, and Jonathan D. Weiler. 2009. Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Howell, Susan E., and Christine L. Day. 2000. “Complexities of the Gender Gap.” The Journal of Politics 62: 858–874.Google Scholar

  • Hunter, James Davison. 1991. Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

  • Iversen, Torbin, and Frances Rosenbluth. 2006. “The Political Economy of Gender: Explaining Cross-national Variation in Household Bargaining, Divorce and the Gender Voting Gap.” American Journal of Political Science 50 (1): 1–19.Google Scholar

  • Judis, John B. 2008. “America the Liberal.” The New Republic, November 19, 2008. 20–22.

  • Judis, John B., and Ruy Teixeira. 2002. The Emerging Democratic Majority. New York: Scribner Press.Google Scholar

  • Kotkin, Joel, and William Frey. 2004. “Parent Trap”. The New Republic Online, www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?pt=sKzRTBxZkbnZ3RuM0cWdfh%3D%3D.

  • Kroska, A., and C. Elman. 2009. “Change in Attitudes about Employed Mothers: Exposure, Interests, and Gender Ideology Discrepancies.” Social Science Research 38: 366–382.Google Scholar

  • Kurtzleben, Danielle. 2014. “Democrats say Work-Life Balance is a Huge Problem. Republicans say it’s Fine.” Vox, November 14, 2014. http://www.vox.com/2014/11/14/7216033/work-life-balance-is-a-democrat-problem.

  • Lakoff, George. 2002. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Libresco, Leah. 2015. “Here’s How Americans Spend Their Working, Relaxing and Parenting Time.” FiveThirtyEight. June 24, 2015. http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/heres-how-americans-spend-their-working-relaxing-and-parenting-time/.

  • Matto, Elizabeth. 2005. “The Politicization of Motherhood: The Increase in Attention Paid to Mothers in Campaigns and the Effect on Interests of Women in General.” Paper presented at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Political Science Association. Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar

  • Monte, Lindsay M., and Renee R. Ellis. 2014. Fertility of Women in the United States: June 2012, Current Population Reports, P20-575. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.Google Scholar

  • Parker, Kim. 2015. “Working Mom Guilt? Many Dads Feel it too.” Pew Research Center, April 1, 2015. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/01/working-mom-guilt-many-dads-feel-it-too/.

  • Pew Research Center. 2013a. Modern Parenthood: Roles of Moms and Dads Converge as They Balance Work and Family. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2013/03/FINAL_modern_parenthood_03-2013.pdf.

  • Pew Research Center. 2013b. “The New American Father.” http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/06/14/the-new-american-father/.

  • Roberts, Sam. 2007. “51% of Women Now Living Without a Spouse.” The New York Times.

  • Sailer, Steve. 2004 “Baby Gap: How Birthrates Color the Electoral Map.” The American Conservative. Accessed February 8, 2005. 20 December. http://www.amconmag.com/2004_12_20/print/coverprint.html.

  • Samsel, Emily. 2015. “Hilary Clinton advocates for paid family leave on Mother’s Day.” May 10, 2015. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/hillary-clinton-advocates-paid-family-leave-mothers-day.

  • Sanbonmatsu, Kira. 2004. Democrats/Republicans and the Politics of Women’s Place. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar

  • Self, Robert O. 2012. All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy since the 1960s. New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar

  • Walter, Amy. 2013. “Can Romney Convince Walmart Moms He’s Up to the Job?” ABC News, June 8, 2012. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/06/can-romney-convince-walmart-moms-hes-up-to-the-job/ (October 17, 2013).

  • Wang, Wendy, and Kim Parker. 2014. “Record Share of Americans Have Never Married: As Values, Economics and Gender Patterns Change.” Washington, DC: Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project, September. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2014/09/2014-09-24_Never-Married-Americans.pdf.

  • Wang, Wendy, Kim Parker, and Paul Taylor. 2013. “Breadwinner Moms”. Pew Research, May 19, 2013. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/29/breadwinner-moms/.

  • Weisberg, Herbert F. 1987. “The Demographics of a New Voting Gap: Marital Differences in American Voting.” Public Opinion Quarterly 55: 335–343.Google Scholar

  • Wolbrecht, Christina. 2000. The Politics of Women’s Rights. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

  • Zitner, Aaron. 2016. “GOP Hopes for a Boost from ‘Security Moms.’ The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2016. http://on.wsj.com/1l9XuvI.

About the article

Laurel Elder

Laurel Elder is a Professor of Political Science at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York.

Steven Greene

Steven Greene is a Professor of Political Science at North Carolina State University.


aThey are co-authors of The Politics of Parenthood: Causes and Consequences of the Politicization and Polarization of the American Family (SUNY Press, 2012) which explores how and why parenthood and the family have become politicized in contemporary US politics. They are also co-authors of numerous scholarly articles focused on the political consequences of raising children published in outlets such as American Politics Review, Politics & Gender, and Social Science Quarterly.


Published Online: 2016-07-11

Published in Print: 2016-07-01


Citation Information: The Forum, Volume 14, Issue 2, Pages 143–167, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, ISSN (Print) 2194-6183, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2016-0013.

Export Citation

©2016 by De Gruyter.Get Permission

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

[1]
Ian Rivers, Daniel J. Carragher, Jimmy Couzens, Rachel C. Hechler, and Gia B. Fini
International Journal of Educational Research, 2018

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in