Attention, working moms and dads: Al Gore would really like you
to spend more time with your kids.
Mr. Gore's forthright promotion of more hands-on parenting is
emerging as a powerful - yet little-mentioned - sub-theme of his
On the campaign trail and in a phone interview with the Monitor
last week, the vice president has cited his concern about over-
extended working parents - and the effect of that on their
offspring. It's a theme that dovetails with his goal of curbing
environmentally harmful overconsumption.
"No. 1 ... we need better parenting in the United States," the
Democratic presidential contender told a crowd of New Hampshire
voters recently in response to a question on school violence. "I'm
not guilt-tripping anybody," Mr. Gore stresses. "I just think we
have got to recognize that children deserve our time, our care, our
In recent weeks, Gore has repeatedly painted a picture of
depleted working parents, dragging themselves home and flipping on
the television, which substitutes for dinner-time conversation with
the kids. Of the few hours at home "a lot ... are spent in semi-
exhaustion," he says.
In 7 of 10 two-parent families, both parents are employed, he
says, and such couples are now working 500 hours more per year than
they did two decades ago.
But for Gore, this stress spells danger for children, especially
the youngest. Calling himself a "big fan" of so-called attachment
theory concerning child development, he believes that a child's
attachment to a devoted care-giver is essential to lay a foundation
for a confident relationship with the rest of the world.
"If parents are so stressed-out that they don't have time to give
that sort of attention to the child, it's the rare child who can
overcome that and have the feeling of confidence and self-worth
that's so important," he says.
As a result, Gore says he seeks to "make it easier" for mothers
and fathers to stay home if they choose to, and "empower parents to
give more time and attention [to children] in the early years."
Policies he advocates include several to "help a one-income
family survive," including raising the minimum wage, expanding the
earned-income tax credit, and offering affordable health care to
every child. He also calls for more affordable housing and public
transportation to eliminate the need for a second car.
To ease pressures on working parents, Gore supports expanding
family and medical leave and new legislation to give workers the
option to take time off instead of extra compensation.
At the same time, Gore is raising repeatedly and enthusiastically
the idea of whether families should shift their values and
voluntarily cut back on consumption to gain more time together. …