"Clinton, at 67, is far older than most first-time grandmothers in the United States, whose average age hovers around 50," the article notes.
Part of this cohort’s grandmotherly concern for posterity may have to do with its shared experience of parenthood itself, says Laurel Elder, a professor of political science at Hartwick College who, along with Steven Greene at North Carolina State University, has published the only study of how being a mom affects choices at the ballot box.
“We’ve found very consistent motherhood effects,” she told me. “Even when you’re controlling for other variables, motherhood predicts more liberal attitudes. Being a mom makes you more supportive on government spending on education and daycare and on a whole range of social-welfare issues: spending on the elderly, spending on the poor, overall government services.”
(Interesting. Not that I've done any academic studies, but in my own experience, many of the non-moms I know tend to hold more liberal values, while the moms are more conservative/traditional. As non-mothers, whether by choice or otherwise, we are certainly not following a traditional life pattern.)
Anyway -- as a late boomer/early Gen Xer, this article rubbed a few sore spots with me. First, the reminder (as if I needed another one) that not only did I never get to be a mom (let alone a soccer mom) -- that "shared experience of parenthood" is not something I can claim as mine -- I won't ever get to be a grandmother, either. (Not that I needed a reminder: a growing number of my friends & cousins have become grandmothers in recent years, filling my Facebook feed with adorable photos and gushing posts about how great it is to be a grandparent.)(Infertility: the gift that just keeps on giving... :p )
(To rub salt in the wounds -- I'll be attending a baby shower this weekend :p -- the one I went shopping for awhile back. The mom-to-be is the daughter of one of dh's cousins. Her older sister already has three children under the age of 5. The grandparents are younger than dh & me. Oy.)
Two, as neither a Soccer Mom nor a Boomer Granny, I clearly don't have the political clout that my mommy/grandma friends have had, and continue to have. When politicians babble on about "family values" and "helping hard-working families," I know they are not referring to me & dh.
And yet, childless women alone are a large & growing segment of the population (& voter pool), with needs and interests that are not always the same as those of parents. But you would never know it when it comes to policymaking. Several of us were commiserating with Bent Not Broken recently about the lack of tax breaks available to non-parents. (There are a number of deductions that Canadian parents can claim -- including (believe it or not) for enrolling children in sports or arts-related activities.) And I've been horrified to read that, historically, childless adults have not been eligible for coverage under Medicaid in the United States. (Another reason I am glad to be Canadian...!)
Jody Day of Gateway Women is part of a new group in the United Kingdom that is working to bring attention to the growing number of childless -- and aging -- adults, and (hopefully) affect social policy changes there. Governments in the UK (& I daresay North America too) seem to assume that seniors will have children and other family members to fill the gaps in community care -- which is not necessarily true, even for parents, whose children may be dead, estranged, living far away, or frantically juggling children, career and other things, on top of eldercare duties.
I don't know what the answer is -- but if someone has taken the trouble to do a study on how being a mom affects ballot box choices, I would love to see something similar done to bring attention to non-moms (and non-dads) as voters. (Melanie Notkin of Savvy Auntie has done some research on "The Power of the PANK (Professional Aunt, No Kids)", identifying non-moms as a sizeable group that has yet to be recognized or tapped by marketers.)