Sarah Palin & the Glass Ceiling Dilemma

I've been struck by the story of Sarah Palin, a governer from Alaska who is the first woman to ever grace a Republican Presidential nomination. Her life is an inspiring story: a hockey mom who became president of the PTA, and then got nominated to city council, and then won a position as mayor of her town, which led to winning the role of governer of her state.

Almost as interesting as her political career is her journey as a mom. She has a son who will shortly be deployed to Iraq - a stressful situation for any mother. She has a 17-year-old daughter in an unplanned pregnancy - another challenge for their family to endure. And she has a five-month-old son with special needs, who will undoubtedly need lots of care and attention.

I've been thinking lately about how difficult accepting this nomination must have been for her. The vice-presidential nomination is certainly the job of a lifetime for someone in her field. And yet, a job with potential 90-hour work weeks would certinaly give any mother pause, much less one with a newborn and four other children who will be deserving of time and attention in the coming years.

Without casting judgement on her choices, what would you have done if faced with the same decision? Would you have jumped at the chance for a job of a lifetime? Or would you have sacrificed your career dreams to assure more availability at home? On a different level, I think this is a decision working mothers must make on the daily basis, and I don't think it could ever be easy.


  1. I have so many issues with Sarah Palin, and I think it is only a matter of days before she is removed from the ticket.

    We're talking here about the duality of her roles as Mom and Working Woman. Yet her judgment as a mom has not been great, at least in two shining examples. One: upon going into labor in her 8th month with a special needs baby, (her 5th child!) she left Dallas, flew on a commercial flight without disclosing to the flight crew, to Seattle and then back to Alaska to deliver at a rinky dink medical clinic. Does that make sense? And two: she accepted the VP nomination knowing that her pregnant 17 year old daughter would be dragged (drug?) through the mud, thrown under the bus, so to speak. Nice, mom. I mean, gosh, I believe in logical consequences, but that's a bit much.

    It is historic that her name is on the ticket. I think her ego couldn't help but accept. What is it the Bible says about Pride? But I think that no matter what, when we choose to bring children into this world, we are parents first. Her family is not in a position for her to be in a VP race/position. And neither is she.

    One judgmental mother's opinion.

  2. Anonymous10:49 AM

    <<... I think it is only a matter of days before she is removed from the ticket. >>

    Just curious, but where are you getting this information?
    Also curious where the anger is coming from. I disagree with some of the candidates' positions, but I would be very hesitant to riducule another mother's parenting... unless yours is above reproach. I agree that she has a lot on her plate, but what she can or can't handle is for her to decide, not me...or you. If you disagree with her politics, fine, that's you choice... but leave her family out of it.

  3. The author of the last comment certainly signed appropriately. As a working mom of 4 children it is something that we have worked through, planned for, prayed about and have complete peace about our decision for me to work outside the home. There are definite pros and cons. We weigh them as a family. As for the two examples of her apparent lack of judgement - were you there? were you a part of the family discussions that lead to those decisions? Good grief.

  4. Yep, part of me wants to be glib and say "how's that abstinence only education working for ya?" But I can be angry and reactionary over these hot button issues.Good thing I'm not running for President. But Obama is and here is what he says:

    "Let me be as clear as possible," Obama said. "I think people's families are off-limits, and people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president."

    Obama said reporters should "back off these kinds of stories" and noted that he was born to an 18-year-old mother.

    "How a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn't be the topic of our politics, and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that's off-limits." (from

    (I copied this from another blog but heard it on NPR this morning... this is one of many reasons I trust Obama.)

  5. I am so interested to learn more about her life and story.

  6. You know, I really respect what Obama said about families being off limits. In many ways, I agree.

    However, as a voter, I think I am always the type who is going to look at a candidates personal life, and that includes family. Right or wrong, it DOES matter to me. Maybe it's the therapist in me, but I think that how someone conducts their family life is indicative of their overall value system

    That having been said, I did lose a lot of respect for Clinton when he had an affair. I was also disappointed with John Edwards when he ran for president despite his wife having a serious prognosis. To me, these are men with serious value conflicts, who choose their own needs over that of their wives.

    I'm sure we are all influenced by our personal experiences. My experience is growing up in a family where my dad had a high-profile job that demanded lots of hours. We were indoctrinated that it was acceptable because his job was so important. But at the end of the day, I think my sisters and I all felt cheated of a parent. I also think that deficit at home was reflected in some of the choices we made as young women. Not good.

    So I do tend to stand on a "family first" platform, and feel defensive for the children in families such as this, whether it was the mother or father running for the position. Taking your kids from being the mayor's kid to the child of the VP while they're already going through so much - and then knowing that your daughter will be slung through the mud by the press . . . I'm sorry, but this can't be best for them. Best for mom, maybe. Best for the whole family? I doubt it. I think someone in this situation is going to lose, and my guess is that at this level, it will be her children. This is not a quality I'd like to see in a leader of the country.

  7. Wow... I am a little surprised at the tone of a couple of the comments. Pretty harsh commentary. I am a stay at home, homeschooling, average mother of 3. I love what I do and would never want to run for vice president. I do not know whether it is right or wrong for her to run but I think it is odd to judge her (as a couple of commenters have) or say that we can judge whether this is right or wrong.

    Many people in the Bible were called to do HUGE things that were not easy for their families. God called women to be judges over nations at times. God called Esther to marry a pagan king to save her nation. God called Joseph to be king and to get there he was torn from his family and went through slavery and prison. God called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt...Mary bore a child she knew would die and was an outcast for bearing that child. I am certain that these things required massive amounts of sacrifice. Jesus made it really clear that "picking up our cross" wasn't always going to be easy street.

    As conservative Christians we often voice concern over politicians who seem to be in it for the money or wrong reasons. Yet when we have an honest, hard working mother who steps up to the plate many of us start bashing her. How are we supposed to be successful? Who is going to BE that person who makes the change?

    I am not saying that it would be easy. I am not saying it is right or wrong. All I am saying is that we can't know their plan. Maybe Dad is going to stay home full time now. Maybe the money from this opportunity is going to help with all the needs of this sweet new baby. Maybe God has called her "for such a time as this."

    AND I think it is BIZARRE to judge her on her 17 year old child getting pregnant. I mean REALLY! I hope and pray that my children will listen to the things I have taught them. I truly do... but I have seen 100 times over children being raised by Godly, involved parents (YES! Even stay at home parents ;0) who decide to go their own way for a time. Ironic that if she had just crawled off to get an abortion no one would even know about it. Now that she has made this strong decision to keep her child and get married we are going to bash them about it. They can't win for losing.

    Besides, I can't imagine what that girl would have felt for the rest of her life if her mother had turned down the VP position because of her pregnancy. YIKES!

    Anyway... I usually pass on commentary about politics but I couldn't seem to skip this one.

    :0) Angel

  8. Hmmm....Obama has two little girls too. He is spending a LOT of time campaigning. Are you as concerned for his girls? Do you think the spotlight won't effect them as well? Or only for Sarah Palin's family? I don't mind if you disagree with her politics. If you oppose her positions, then don't vote for her, that's fair, but don't tell me she doesn't have a right to be in the race because she has kids.

  9. Wow, this has sparked quite the heated debate! I tried to be really diplomatic in my original post but we've taken a turn, haven't we?

    Let me be clear that I don't judge Sarah Palin because her daughter got pregnant. Many families face that issue, as did my own mom when my sister got pregnant at 16. What I will say is that my mom had to make a LOT of sacrifice to assure my sister had the support she needed to be a teen mom to a newborn. I admire that. And if Sarah Palin gave up the VP spot to devote time to her daughter, maybe she would feel gratitude. I don't think that would be an awful decision. A part of feminism is the ability to CHOOSE, and it's okay to choose family over career.

    And yes, if Obama had the same family situation going on, I would feel the same way. Again, I also thought John Edwards should have stayed home with his family in their time of need. Obviously, that's where I am coming from.

  10. I'm newly married, and we don't have any kids yet. I work full time for a non-profit... that said, here's my take.

    If Sarah Palin did step down from the nomination, or not taken the nomination at all because of her daughter's circumstances, imagine how her daughter would feel down the road after her child is born and the publicity has died down. Knowing that her Mom rejected the job of a life time because she made some poor choices. Personally, that would be harder for me to recover from than what's going on in the press right now. I think the press will get over it, and her family will come through it alive and stronger because of this.

    John McCain's daughter Meghan has a blog where she writes about their life on the campaign trail as a family, it's quite interesting and I'd encourage you to check it out.

  11. Wow....this is definitely the discussion going around. I have such mixed feelings over this. I am proud of Sarah Palin and all she has accomplished as a woman and being a mother at the same time. I don't think we have any right to judge her decisions HOWEVER if we are choosing who we are going to vote for we need to hash out our feelings and judge on what kind of leader we want so there has to be some kind of judgement...did that make any sense? I don't care that her 17 yr old daughter is pregnant.....I am a P.K. (always hated that term...ministers daughter) and I was watched and stared at for years..."remember, you need to be the example". And at the age of 25 I got pregnant out of wedlock and was more worried about all the judgement my father would have placed on him.....was it in any way his fault? NO! Was he still a great man, leader, christian, and person, YES! And even though 17 is much younger than 25 I don't think we can place blame on Sarah Palin for her daughter's pregnancy. Here is where my problem lies....did she even consider what this is going to do to her family? Seriously, her daughter is going through a tough time and now it is all over the papers and news. She didn't chose this....her Mother did....she could have been just another small town girl that got pregnant but now she is not. And another issue...didn't Sarah Palin just have a 6 months ago. And he is a special needs child and she went straight to work. I think baby bonding is soo important and I have no experience but I would think with a special needs child it would be even more important. I am still so in the air with my feelings of Sarah Palin and now that I have written too much I will go now. :)

  12. Umm...all babies are special needs no matter how they are born and no matter what age they are whether 6 months or 16. They always want our approval and need our input right that second, not to wait until we our done with a meeting, etc. Can you imagine? Wait, honey, I'm meeting with the Energy Commission, etc., etc., they really won't care, they will want Mom. I have both sons and a daughter and I want them to have the same opportunites and to be treated fairly in life, BUT God did create us differently for a specific reason and plan and he did that at the very beginning of time and we should honor and be proud of our differences. I do admire Ms. Palin for all that she accomplished but even Ms. Palin herself in an interview she gave this past summer called herself "just a hockey mom", so I wonder just how much of "our country" she will be looking out for. I think Hillary may have been the better female choice that would have had more experience and time to devote to our country at this point in time and maybe Sarah in 20 more years. Timing is everything.

  13. I really appreciated Angel's comment, who knows maybe Palin is a present day Esther? She could be put in office for "such a time as this." My point is who knows.

    It's so easy for us moms to judge others and I think that's dangerous. The Lord calls each of us to do different things. Of course as voters we vote for who we think is best, but we need to check our judgemental thoughts.

    I know for me, parenting is hard enough without being judged. Just because she's in the spotlight doesn't give Christians the right to tear her down personally.

  14. My favorite show of all time is The West Wing. There is a episode when Leo is having marriage problems because he works long hours at The White House. His wife decides to leave him and she says his job is not more important than his marriage. And he says, "Yes, right now my job is more important than my marriage." He implies it won't be this way forever. I'm not saying I agree with this, but we all have times in our relationships where we give and take more than the other. Maybe the politicians husband/wife is the one who sacrifices much more in the relationship as the spouse is giving more to the country than they are to the marriage. I do think this discussion in all circles is fairly new and I do think there is some sexism in it. We haven't talked about this in years past with Presidents with large families. And if someone tried to run for office saying they intentionally didn't have kids because they knew they couldn't do it all, I don't think our country would be ready for that. I agree with the original post that this isn't just about being VP, mom's with large families and special needs kids have to go to work every day and rely on childcare. It's life.

    I'm not saying I agree with all of my own words but it's just a few more takes on the conversation. :)

  15. Wow! I came over from another blog and had no intentions of commenting but find myself unable to walk away at this point.

    First, I find myself unable to answer the "what if it were me" question. Reason being that God gave me different gifts than He gave Sarah Palin. I have absolutely, positively no desire (or ability) to be Vice President of anything...not even the PTO but apparently she does. Working moms face this every single day...are they all to be condemned for choosing to work? Granted, they aren't the VP but I'm willing to bet there are plenty who give as much time and effort to their careers AND who are part of families where both parents work full time.

    I am stunned that we would judge someone by the actions of their 17-year-old daughter. If any of us dare think, for one minute, that we have control of them and/or that they will never make mistakes, we're in for disappointment. Let's not judge her/them for the situation that they are in but of what they make of it in the end.

  16. There have been a couple comments expressing shock over judging Sarah Palin by her daughter's actions. I have read through the comments twice now, and I'm not seeing that. There are a couple comments expressing concern over the critical exposure to the press that her daughter is getting due to the circumstances, which I think we can all agree is unfair and unfortunate. But I'm not hearing anybody throw Sarah under the bus because her daughter got pregnant.

    Also, as voters, we are allowed (and ought to) think critically about the people we will vote for, which may include looking at personal and professional factors. I assure you that we all do it at some level, just maybe regarding different issues. We all have our own experiences and biases that lend to how we look at people, and we may not agree on what those issues are. Can we choose not to vote for someone because we don't agree with their sexual orientation, or abortion views, or religious beliefs? I hope so. Does that make us judgemental? (not that I'm comparing Sarah to that. I'm just making the point, again, that the personal is political) Let's not call each other "unChristian" or judgemental because we are looking at the whole person and their belief system as we make such decisions.

  17. Woweeee!! I came from another blog and usually stay out of stuff like this. I think the proof is in the pudding. This is how I form my opinion. I likes what she's done with/in Alaska for the time she's been governer there. It looks like she's stood up to even those in her own party. She has taken care of things there were not "right" in her eyes. Those are the kind of things that I am interested in. I don't want someone who is going to get into the White House and fold under pressure! I think she has a beautiful, unique, and typically untypical family!!!

    Oh and I must comment on the question somone posed about if abstinence only education was working for her? It would be like looking at someone who instituted the D.A.R.E program at a school who's child had been caught smoking marijuana and asking how the "Just Say No" mentality was working for them.

    As you can tell, I am a fan. I was actually thinking last night that there was no way I could do what she was doing. I was trying to see if her knees were wobbly or if she looked nervous...someone said it right...we all have different gifts. From last nights speech, I think she is right where she is supposed to be and her gifts are serving her well!

  18. Anonymous2:30 PM

    How do you know that she didn't talk to bristol about what may happen before accepting the VP nomination from McCain? She could have had a family meeting and they could have talked about all the pros and cons ... weighed them out and then made their decsion. She doesn't seem like the kind of woman who would willingly throw her daughter under the bus ....


  19. I completely agree with this statement from an above commenter:

    "part of feminism is the ability to CHOOSE, and it's okay to choose family over career."

    I have always had a self-employed job as a Children's Book Writer. That was when I had "only" 3 kids. Now that I have 6 kids (and soon to have NINE), I just went to work full-time as an Anatomy teacher at a local high school. Lots of hard work, extra hours, little pay, much stress.

    As a mom to six (none of whom have special needs per se, but 3 of whom are in ESL classes), I can tell you that RIGHT NOW I would NOT accept a call to be Veep. NO WAY.

    Now, I am extremely administrative, executive, capable, on-top-of-things, Type A all the way, but there is NO WAY that I would be able to raise my 6 children and take care of the entire country at the same time. That's just a fact. (Perhaps one day, but not today.)

    I'm one of the biggest Christian feminists out there and supported Hillary all the way. But, if Hillary had 5 children, including at least two who need her dearly right now, I would have said NO WAY NOT NOW.

    I was 20 years old when I had my own unplanned pregnancy. It wasn't a disaster; I married my longtime boyfriend a year earlier than we had originally planned and we have a fabulous family to this day. But, I can tell you that I needed my MOM BADLY during that time. And she was there for me, even quitting her job to be there for me when I needed her.

    That is real feminism. Being fully capable and yet fully willing to sacrifice.

    It's just the way it is, my friends.

    And, as far as it being "sexist" to ask these same questions of a male candidate? Well, yes, my dears, it's just NOT the same thing. Probably everywhere here would attest to the fact that there is something unique about a child's need for his or her MOTHER above all.

    I consider it a privilege to be the only one to be able to meet that need.

    Women are fully capable, fully equal in intelligence and fortitude. I so desperately want to see a woman in the White House. I so desperately want all of the hardships that women have gone through over the centuries to be worth something now. I so desperately want to say to the sexist S.O.B.'s out there, "STICK IT! You LOSE!"

    But, fact is...Ms. Palin has 5 children who desperately need her. For a party of "Family Values," this seems to be quite contrary to everything they've ever preached.

    Now I must pop over to my blog and stir up the heat. I'm about to post my own comments there as well. :)


    I came upon this blog from someone else's. I was kind of taken aback by the first comment... Let's take the log out of our own eyes before we look at a speck in someone else's? I think that's in the Bible somewhere... hmm. How can we judge her judgement as a mother when we don't even know her? People are making a lot of assumptions about this woman, and we all know what assuming does... I guess it's fine if you want to vote (or not vote) for someone based upon their personal lives, but I don't think that is why they are running. How do you know that her husband isn't going to be a stay-at-home dad? Agreeing with the comment above--how do we know the family didn't agree to this? WE DON'T. If there is proof somewhere that we do, please inform me. What the heck is a "rinky dink medical clinic"? Have you ever been there? Some amazing doctors work at "rinky dink medical clinics". Why does it matter that she wanted to give birth in Alaska--probably due to the fact that her family lives there? How do you know she has a big ego? Please tell me what the Bible says about pride AND judgement. I think it also talks about humility??? You don't know the stance or position of her family. Stop judging the poor woman.

    Does anyone know if she is a believer? Just curious because I really don't know. In response to Corey's comment--If she's not we can't hold her to Christian or Biblical standards regarding her pride. If she's not, I really hope that she doesn't see some of these comments. If they were written about me, I would REALLY be taken aback, and I AM a believer. Everyone struggles with pride whether to a great or small extent. Again let's take the logs out of our own eyes.

    It's fine if you don't vote for her. It's fine if you do. That's a right we have as Americans. But we do have the opportunity/command as Christians to support our leaders. If she becomes a future leader of America, I hope we pray for her rather than judge her.

  21. Found my way here from Dreaming Big Dreams. Just a comment to all the self-righteous evangelicals: the actual rate of divorce among evangelical Christians who attend church at least once weekly and say they are born-again, Bible believing Christians is 48%; among so called pagans it is 50%. The rate of premarital sex among the children of evangelicals is only 2% different from those of typical teens raised in non-religious homes.

    Moms, raise your kids til they're in their 30s and report back about how judgmental you're willing to be after that.

  22. I too have many issues with Sarah Palin and I am not even American. I have been watching the US election coverage religiously as the condition of our neighbours to the south has a direct impact on us up here in Canada. I was shocked to see Ms.Palin be added to the ticket as John MCain's running mate. Sadly I am convinced the reason she was chosen was because she was a woman and not because she was the best candidate for the job. In a campaign of "change" what better a move than to add a woman to the Republican nomination.

    As for her accepting of it...well that I can say in my honest opinion was the wrong thing to do. Put aside the fact that she has five children, or the fact that one is still an infant with special needs, or the fact that her 17 year old daughter is pregnant and will be needing her more than ever, or that her experience is nominal at best. She should have declined the nomination on the fact that she was not chosen because she is Sarah Palin, she was chosen because she was a woman and it looked good.

    As a mother of five children, none of which have special needs I would love to know how she plans on mothering her children from Air Force One.

    ...and a little off topic but wasn't the blatant PR move of having McCain's freaky wife hold Sarah's baby during the Repuplican National Convention enough to make you barf?

  23. Wow...

    Amazing how we as women are so quick to judge each other and throw each other under the bus.



  24. I came back to see if there were any new comments. I am just so shocked that everyone is looking at her family status in order to decide if they like her. I know that is what started the discussion "would we if we were in that position"" I just wanted to point out some of her accomplishments in an executive role...For example:

    Replaced entire Board of Agriculture and Conservation because of conflict of interest;Resigned from position of Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in order to expose corruption among members of own party


    Formerly (pre-surge) critical of apparent lack of long-term strategy for Iraq;Visited wounded U.S. soldiers in Germany;visited AK National Guard soldiers deployed to Kuwait;

    Son deploying to Iraq on 9/11/08 as Army infantryman


    Resigned in protest from position of Ethics Commissioner of Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in order to expose legal violations and conflicts of interest of Alaska Republican leaders, including the former state Attorney General and the State GOP Chairman (who was also an Oil & Gas Commissioner), who was doing work for the party on public time and supplying a lobbyist with a sensitive e-mail.

    and there is much more here...

    I understand that we as women are concerned with how she can do it with 5 children but I think she has her head on straight and will surprise us with how she handles it with grace and ease! Let's give her some time to address our concerns.

  25. I've been talking to my husband about my concerns about Sarah Palin and told him last night that I was a little afraid to share my concerns with other women . . .the comments here are evidence to me that a) others are having some of the same thoughts I do and b) I wasn't crazy to be apprehensive about how my concerns would be recieved!!!

    I'll just say this - I believe that kids so desperately need the time, attention, and engagment of BOTH their moms and their dads. I am just concerned about Obama's 2 little girls as I am about Sarah Palin's children.

  26. Holy cats. I never even looked here for comments after seeing this post over on the Manifesto.


    Everyone's got something to say about Palin. So many different layers here.

    You really know how to stir the pot lady! :)

  27. She is a believer.

    I say we pray. I was quick to pass judgement, but had no education on her. I must say, I wait in expectation to see what GOD has chosen to do with her life.
    You can catch a glimpse of her before the presidential light was glaring on her life.

  28. I definitely agree that Sarah Palin is leaving her responsibilities at home for something that she thinks is a "greater" or a "higher calling." This is my problem. Motherhood is the highest calling there is and she is just one example of how the values of family are deteriorating in this nation. How can we ever expect this to change if this is being lived out in the White House?

  29. I'm not judging her as any ole' mom out there who decides to work full-time while she has 5 kids.

    I'm questioning her wisdom and judgment in GENERAL (and shouldn't we do that of our possible leaders?) for saying YES to a job that will REQUIRE her to sacrifice her family for at least four years.

    I completely question her motivation and wisdom.

    And that is TOTALLY fair.

  30. Hmmm...some interesting comments on this blog. Let me put my two cents in-I think that the way to answer this question is to ask yourself the following questions:
    1. What three qualities do I want to see most in our president?
    2. Which candidate's actions have shown him to be the best candidate?

    The same questions can be used for vice-president.

    Now, some questions that come to mind when I hear Sarah Palin talk are things like, "is her schedule at the White House going to be arranged in such a way that she has flex-time, or can she bring her family to work on certain days or during certain times? How well do you think someone who has managed a state as large as Alaska and from most accounts, managed quite well, already knows what she is going to need to accomplish both of her goals-mom and vp? Are you saying that concessions won't be made to accomodate her needs?"
    If woman can manage Fortune 500 companies and have families, why can't Sarah Palin or any woman do the same in politics? Just a few questions.

  31. to answer the last question:

    ...because being next in line to run the country is FAR BEYOND running a company, Fortune 500 or not.


    And I bet the women running those Fortune 500 companies have either already raised their kids OR are leaving them behind as well.

    You can't have both at the same time, and it seems like Palin doesn't understand that at all.


talk to me.

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