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wundayatta's avatar

What do religious people, in particular, Christian evangelicals, think of Sarah Palin's parenting skills?

Asked by wundayatta (58586points) March 15th, 2009

ABC is reporting that the father of Bristol Palin’s baby, and her now former fiance, has broken up with her a couple of weeks ago.

A lot of evangelical Christians believe in abstinence. When their children have premarital sex, and conceive a baby, what do they think? Do they feel they have failed as parents? Or just that their kids made a mistake? DO they get angry, or just move on, considering themselves sinners who need forgiveness; what else is new?

Is Sarah Palin any good as a parent?

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20 Answers

essieness's avatar

This is a great question and one that I thought about pretty often during campaign season. The irony of Palin being on the conservative Christian right and her daughter winding up pregnant was just too obvious. But for some reason, the party just smoothed over it like it was no big deal, and in fact, a blessing. I probably wouldn’t have thought much about it (other than feeling bad for the girl and her family) if they weren’t part of a group that treats teen sex like it’s something from the devil. I personally grew up in a household where talking about sex was taboo and I knew basically nothing about it. I had sex as a teenager, but I chose to be smart about it and educate myself. I asked my mom to take me to get birth control, and begrudgingly, she did, and thank GOD! Unfortunately, a lot of teenagers aren’t smart about sex and wind up like Bristol Palin. I find instances like this to be proof that abstinence only programs don’t work.

nebule's avatar

I am the daughter of christians… who used to be highly evangelical christians…

i got pregnant out of wedlock and they have supported me through and through…although I know they would have preferred it if i was married…

Introverted_Leo's avatar

If I came home pregnant one day without having married first, I’m pretty sure my parents would be (1) angry, (2) frustrated and (3) saddened. Perhaps they might even feel like failures as parents.

Parents can only do so much to guide their children. When the parent has laid down the rules and the child goes against them, then there’s nothing they can do to change what’s been done. It’s as simple as that.

The thing is, though, my parents would not stop loving me because I had premarital sex. Yes, they would be highly disappointed—in me for not controlling myself and in themselves for not be able to prevent it. But I’m human, they’re human—it’s a part of who we are. Learning to forgive and learn and grow from your mistakes is part of what it means to be a Christian. And so is love. My parents would forgive me and help me to make the best of my life and continue to love me regardless.

This isn’t really a question of whether or not Sarah Palin is a good parent or not. Who are we to judge her parenting skills based on one incident where her daughter made a blunder? People blunder all the time and they move on. The question, as a Christian, should be, “Will Sarah Palin and her daughter continue to live a Christian life as best they can?” And only time will answer that.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

And, btw, I’m not a “Christian Evangelical,” but I do consider myself a Christian.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Abstinence should not be a birth control method, but the psychological value of abstinence in the context of not having sex because of peer pressure, should be.

If the Palin’s parenting skills are flawed, it’s for other reasons, not Bristol’s situation. The fact that she was able to go on national television and disagree with her mother’s position, says the family did something right. It’s a blessing for all that the family is not in the national spotlight through all this; what a distraction from real problems at hand that should be the center of focus.

cwilbur's avatar

I think any honest talk about sex with teenagers has to mention abstinence as a viable option, because for many people it is, for one reason or another—but it also needs to include talking about birth control and about the possible and likely consequences of sex, because for many people, abstinence is not a workable option.

And I think Sarah Palin has a lot of nerve banging the “family values” drum when her family is in the state it’s in. If you’re going to push the notion that single motherhood and children out of wedlock are poor life choices when they happen in other families, you need to be prepared with a clear answer about why they’re acceptable when they happen in your family.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

I don’t think Sarah means to make it seem that having children out of wedlock is so much “acceptable” as it is “forgivable.” Acceptability would imply, “Oh, it’s okay. No one really thinks much of it.” Clearly, Sarah does (though she’s doing her best not to), and so does everyone else who’s snickering and looking at them thinking, “So much for family values.”

But Sarah is very willing to help her daughter to “make the most of it” regardless. There is so much love in their family. Their interview clearly shows that she, and their entire family, is willing to support her daughter 100% in seeing this baby as a blessing in their lives, despite the fact he was born out of wedlock. That’s stickin’ to family values in spite of the obstacles and lapses that have taken place.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

But personally, I don’t agree with Bristol about abstinence not being realistic. Her response was kind of juvenile. The only reason it wouldn’t be realistic for her is because she chose not to practice it (if you’re pregnant, of course abstinence is not realistic; it’s simply a bygone ideal by this point). Yes, every young person faces pressures, but to gloss over abstinence by saying, “It’s not realistic,” and then jump to, “I don’t want to get into details on this…it’s more and more accepted now,” is just shirking the fact that you didn’t stick to it.

I’m 20 years old. I have been subjugated to all the various pressures of having sex like everyone else and have remained abstinent thus far. You’re not gonna hear me making excuses about how unrealistic it is. There is no excuse for claiming that it isn’t realistic because it isif you put your mind to it and stick to it. No one’s perfect, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. Doesn’t mean you have to practice it, either, because that’s a personal choice.

However, promoting “abstinence-only” and not discussing contraception at all (you know, just in case, haha)...now that is not realistic. If a girl/guy chooses to have sex, then they should know their options regardless of whether or not they believe in abstinence.

Judi's avatar

At some point a parent is not responsible for their children’s choices. Although I really don’t like Mrs Palin politically, I would hope that as a Christian mother, she has forgiven her daughter. I am sure she was angry and embarrassed at first, but after mourning the hopes and dreams she probably had for an easier life for her daughter decided to do what needed to be done to help her love and raise her child. Probably not much different than a non Christian family except that in a non-Christian family abortion may have been an option.

wundayatta's avatar

That interview was interesting. She says that she would have preferred to wait ten years, but now that he’s here, he’s wonderful. She wants to advocate, if not for abstinence, at least for delaying pregnancy until you have a house and a career.

To me, this is a complicated message. Abstinence, not birth control, yet there is pressure to have sex, and she couldn’t resist, and is now had her life changed by it, although, not necessarily in a way she would have liked. To me, this seems like a twisted form of logic that is designed to keep teen pregnancy rates higher than they otherwise would be. Maybe there is a hidden agenda? Build the population amongst certain kinds of religious folk, so they have more influence in the future?

cwilbur's avatar

@daloon: it’s a complicated message, because human sexuality is complicated, and not really good at being constrained in a sound-bite message or a slogan.

wundayatta's avatar

@Introverted_Leo: you’re going to have to be a little more articulate than that. I don’t know what you’re questioning.

this, in lieu of a response that said, “Huh?” I was seriously tempted to do that.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

“Maybe there is a hidden agenda? Build the population amongst certain kinds of religious folk, so they have more influence in the future?”

My question is, why does there need to be a hidden agenda?

wundayatta's avatar

Because the alternative would be that they are hypocritical or just plain stupid, and I don’t like to say that about anybody, and I don’t believe it is true. It has to make sense somehow, but I can’t see how, so I’m hoping someone will be able to lift me out of my ignorance. Tough job, I know, but if anyone is up to it, a flutherer is!

cdwccrn's avatar

I don’t have enough information to know if Sarah Palin is a good mother. Besides, I would not want others sitting in judgement of my parenting. None of us are perfect.
That said, I would have made a few different choices in parenting than Sarah has made.

cwilbur's avatar

@daloon: I don’t think it’s a hidden agenda. I think it’s a really naïve or really optimistic view of human nature.

The parents insist on no sex education, or on sex education based only on abstinence. They do this because they really think that abstinence until marriage is both morally correct and healthy, and because they think (incorrectly) that sex education classes and talks with parents are how their kids get their information about sex. So if the only message they send is that abstinence until marriage is the only way to go, then obviously their children will hear that message and heed it. Also, they don’t want to suggest to their kids that it might be acceptable to have premarital sex under any circumstances, and so they don’t want discussions of safe sex practices or birth control—because safe sex practices to prevent the spread of disease are irrelevant when both parties are a virgin on their wedding night, and birth control is irrelevant when you’re married and you want kids—especially if you aren’t aware that sex without pregnancy is a viable option. And finally, if you have an honest, science-based discussion of human sexuality, you have to touch on homosexuality—and that’s a very loaded subject.

There are many problems with this approach to sex education – but I think the people who do it are naïve and optimistic, not secretly plotting to overpopulate the world by feeding misinformation to their children. The first problem is that kids are getting messages about sex from all over the place, not just from the parents, and so when the parents’ message about abstinence is not consistent with all the messages they’re seeing in the entertainment media about how wonderful sex is, they distrust their parents’ message. But at the same time, very few people in the entertainment media are making a fuss about pregnancy and STIs, or about condoms and dental dams.

Maybe this level of optimism falls under “stupid” in your world. I don’t think people who believe that way are stupid; it’s sufficient for them to merely be wrong, as far as I’m concerned. And I can see how someone with good intentions but a few wrong ideas (such as the idea that homosexuality is a choice, and that teaching kids about the likely consequences of sex will encourage them to experiment more than not teaching them anything but letting them absorb the messages about sex that are out there) could, with lots of good intentions, come to the conclusion that sex education is a bad thing overall.

gooch's avatar

First off hindsight is 20/20. Most people all over the world raise thier children in their own person morals and beliefs this is because they believe this to be the best way. Parents want what is best for their children. I think she was doing what she thought was right and you cant fault someone for doing what they think is right. I personally do think abstinence is a very real option. As a parent you are given a child who will in the end make thier own decisions. Saying Sarah Palin is a bad mom is like saying ever single person who has ever been put in jail had bad parents. Some parents raise children in the same household who take very different pathways in life. I know a couple who have raised a set of twins. One has become a professional who has what appears to be a happy family the other is in prision. In the end we as parents can only guide or children in what we think is the right direction.

MCBeat's avatar

The media already gave her enough crap for that. She’s a fine mother, she’s raised a beautiful family, and she’s successful. She’s living the American dream. It’s no one’s business to judge if she’s a failure of a parent over her daughter getting pregnant. There are many peple that get pregnant out of wedlock, it happens.

Halliburton_Shill's avatar

If they weren’t also against contraception and abortion, it wouldn’t be a problem. Maybe they need to think more.

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