I was in the car this afternoon and heard an ad for US Senate Candidate Tom Leppert. What struck me was this part:
Raised by a single mom and self-made in the Texas tradition, Tom Leppert is a man I’ve come to know and respect.
I certainly don’t fault the man for being raised without a father in the home, but in this case he seems to be bragging about it. Skip to 36 seconds to hear it in the ad:
While this isn’t the biggest deal in the world, it strikes me as very strange that this is what he asked local sports star Troy Aikman to tell Texas voters, especially since this is still the Republican primary race. It doesn’t say if his parents divorced, his mother got pregnant out of wedlock, or if his mother was a widow [Edit: See note at bottom of post. His mother was in fact a widow]. I suspect if the latter is the case and he used the specific term widow he would have lost points with the sadly quite large unwed mother voting block.
Perhaps that is the point. The ad above isn’t the only time his mother’s singleness is offered as a point of pride. With just a bit of searching I found a similar reference in the biography posted by Pastors for Tom Leppert (emphasis mine):
Raised by a single mother, Tom worked his way through college, earning a degree from Claremont McKenna College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He later served under Ronald Reagan as a White House fellow in both the Treasury Department and in the White House.
Tom’s faith plays a vital role in his life, and that faith has formed the framework for all of his decisions in both public and private life. Tom and his family are members of First Baptist Church and Park Cities Baptist Church.
At one point in time I’m fairly certain politicians in bible belt Texas were proud if they were raised by married parents. But that was some time ago, certainly pre Stanton/Driscoll/Courageous.
Now amongst religious conservatives the assumption is that men are causing women to have children out of wedlock by not being good enough to marry. Mark Driscoll has gone on record twice (here and here) making this case, and Glenn Stanton has made this case in two of his books. I’ve already written about Stanton making this case in his book on raising children. More recently I stumbled onto Stanton making the same case is in his book on marriage, The Ring Makes All The Difference:
Having interviewed many young adult women over the past decade, I have talked with more than a few who had babies out of wedlock. These are not just young teens or early twentysomething women who got pregnant by accident. Many are women in their later twenties, thirties, and even early forties who got pregnant intentionally because they found their biological clocks ticking faster than their wedding bells were ringing.
As one successful professional woman living in Seattle, Washington-working as a professor of literature at a noted university–explained to me, she always wanted to get married and have children in the traditional way, but a husband never materialized.
A successful professional woman in Seattle who couldn’t find a husband? That sounds familiar. Isn’t that where Pastor Driscoll’s church is located? Could it be they both are talking about the same woman? I have no way of knowing, but seriously what are the odds? Did Pastor Driscoll forget to mention that the aging career gal in his church was a baby mama when he scolded men for not manning up and marrying her?
Back to Stanton’s book. He shares some stats on the profound increase in unwed births, and then closes the section with:
This dramatic growth of unmarried childbearing among adult women is largely due to women choosing to have babies with men who are good enough as live-in partners–good enough, they sense, to be baby-daddies, but not good enough to be marriage material. You probably have friends who are there–or have been there.
Now skip to 1:13 below to hear the same Glenn Stanton, Director for Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, call single mothers heroic:
Edit: Per the statesman.com Leppert’s father passed away when he was young.
His father died when Leppert was young, and his mother raised him on a secretary’s salary.