More women are running for public office, but limitations on using campaign dollars for child care costs hinder their efforts. As of 2018, campaign funds can only be used to pay for these costs of running for federal offices. Six states have passed laws that allow the money to go to child care; most states leave the issue open to interpretation.
Kimberly Dudik was not allowed to use campaign money for child care for her four young children when she ran for her fourth term in the Montana House. She is now running for the state’s Attorney General and says she needs even more help taking care of her kids while she travels the campaign trail and her husband works late at his job.
Dudik said that the policies are behind the times.
“When the man was campaigning, the woman was traditionally the one to stay home and take care of the children. There is not someone home just taking care of the kids,” she said in an Associated Press article.
But husbands can take care of their children, too. Numerous studies and pediatric experts agree that having one parent at home helps children adjust and perform better through high school. In Dudik’s race to secure her spot in the Democratic primary, she sacrifices her own children’s stability and sense of security. If a hopeful candidate is traveling so much that childcare costs are a burden, it is a sign that it’s a bad time for he or she to run for office.
In order to build a strong, stable society, we need to put family first, starting with our own families. Kids deserve one primary caretaker they can form a strong bond with in the small, daily ways that make up their whole world. One adult who knows if they like the crust cut off their sandwich, which ones are their favorite pair of pajamas, and if they are crying because they are hungry, tired, or both.
Running for office is an admirable way to shape the America we live in, but less emphasis needs to be on getting women on the ballots and more emphasis on maintaining strong family structures. Our society relies on the strength of each family unit, and undermining this by urging mothers to leave their young children with paid caretakers while they campaign for public office is a mistake.
Dudik didn’t leave her newborn baby with another caretaker while serving in the Montana House in 2017, though. She made state history as the first sitting legislator to birth a baby during her term. She delivered on Thursday and spoke in front of the legislature on Monday, cradling a newborn wrapped in a blanket in one arm and holding the microphone with the other.
This is not a moment women should rally around. A four-day-old baby and newly postpartum mother deserve privacy. They both need time to bond and heal. When women resume their paid jobs immediately after giving birth, they undermine the importance of the mother-child bond. Science has proven this bond is important for a baby’s brain development and lays the foundation for that person’s emotional and social behavior as an adult.
Women should run for public office, but they should not deprive their children of familial security while doing it.