Opinion Democrats' new super power: Single parents like me are a growing political force
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Throughout his career, former Vice President Joe Biden has returned, over and over, to a pivotal time in his life — the years after, and their young daughter in a car accident. Deep in grief, he took on the role of single father to his two sons before he . Over the years, he has returned to this time to show support for single parents.“I was a single dad for five years,” he told a young black mother in a Facebook campaign video this past July. “ .”
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Kamala Harris has also said that her mother, divorced and single, was her primary role model. "When I was five, my parents split and my mother raised us mostly on her own," she said in her. "She made it look easy, though I know it never was."
These roles and role models have shaped this Democratic team as empathetic leaders. It is a less discussed but important character strength because they understand the needs of a growing family type in America who can influence the presidential vote. Aby the Voter Participation Center in 2019 found that a majority of voting-eligible women were unmarried in 2018. And millennials will make up 21% of the voting-eligible population in 2020.
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Biden and Harris’ openness about these family influences has also given power to a job that is oftenby .
The American family is changing
, there are more than 16 million unmarried parents in America raising over 24 million children. Fifty-three percent are solo mothers, who tend to , and the are part of the vast millennial generation ranging from .
We all come to single parenthood in different ways: some through divorce; some through the death of a spouse, and others, like myself, increasingly through personal choice. I had a baby on my own at 40 because I decided that I had the rest of my life to find true love and partnership, but only a small window in which to conceive a child.
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Whatever the reason, raising a child on one’s own is hard but becoming, reflected in evolving attitudes and demographics. Thirty-three percent of millennial moms living with their own children , according to the Pew Research Center. One in five millennials is a single dad. More often than not, when I tell people that I’m a single mother by choice, they say “Good for you!” Politicians who recognize and support these shifts in the shapes of the American family will gain more votes.
No matter the route and circumstances, all single parents share a common ground. Like Biden and Harris, we all know the courage that grows from loss, whether it's the loss of our spouse through death or divorce, the loss of living with one parent, or the loss of a dream of having a child with someone you love. We all know heartbreak, the fear of becoming sick, or losing our income because our children rely solely on us. As a senator, Biden said that he should beany time one of his sons called him.
During the pandemic, many single parents, myself included, have been hit the hardest by a decrease in income, the social isolation of stay-at-home orders, and the stress of juggling work and virtual school. In the deepest quarantine days, many of us who rely on child care facilities, babysitters, friends, neighbors and activities grew more anxious because we lost our vital agreements outside of our households. These are the constellations that usually make us feel supported and part of a larger community.
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Single parent strong
I have always tried to put on a brave face and emphasized the strength I’ve gained from parenting on my own. But without my usual supports and connections, the losses and obstacles started to feel taller and more painful. The hit was felt even harder for the lowest wage single moms who work in service jobs.
Biden and Harris have shown the many positive qualities that being a single parent or being raised by one inspires. Men can become more involved parents and the children of single mothers can gain positive career role models. In her DNC acceptance speech, Harris recalled how her mother influenced her decision to go into public service. “She taught us to be conscious and compassionate about the struggles of all people. To believe public service is a noble cause and the fight for justice is a shared responsibility,"
Founding ideals inspire liberal patriots:
That compassion doesn’t come from a place of privilege, but rather one of internal resilience built from challenges. Especially during the pandemic, I have had to find new reserves of strength. You have to be steadfast in your decisions as the leader of your family. You have to be financially wise, and mostly, you are forced to reach outside of yourself to find alternative emotional and social supports.
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It starts with personal experience, as Biden has shown, and that leads outward to a broader focus on purpose and service. Now more than ever, single parents need government leaders who can empathize with our losses and victories, the strengths that they build, and offer a vision for the future that will give us all more psychological security and stronger community structures in which we can thrive.
Rachel Lehmann-Haupt is an author of "," and a single mother by choice. She is currently working on a new book about the future of the family in America.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Deion Branch not happy after being left off Patriots' All-Dynasty Team .
When a team has a period of success as lengthy as the New England Patriots have had, some players are going to feel that they didn’t get their due for their contributions. Deion Branch is one of them. © Greg M. Cooper -USA TODAY Sports The Patriots’ Hall of Fame announced its All-Dynasty Team, and Deion Branch is salty that he wasn't selected. The Patriots’ Hall of Fame announced its All-Dynasty Team on Thursday. The undertaking is part of the creation of an exhibit to celebrate the franchise’s success since 2001, and it was selected via a combination of fan voting and a panel of experts.