In this election season, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have proposed significant policies to help parents. Their proposals share two main features: (1) enhanced maternity or family leave mandated by federal regulations and subsidized by federal spending, and (2) assistance with educational and other childcare expenses via federal spending, tax relief, or both.
For the Catholic citizen, these proposals have significant promise to provide at least some appropriate relief to working parents. Nonetheless, both candidates’ proposals seem at odds with Catholic teaching in various ways.
In evaluating these family policies, it is well to recall two fundamental and highly relevant principles: the duty of the parent to the child, and the duty of the broader community to assist the parent in performing this duty. As to the parental duty, the Catholic Church teaches that God directly entrusts every child to the custody, care, and education of his mother and father. As Pope Pius XI explained, “God directly communicates to the family, in the natural order, fecundity, which is the principle of life, and hence also the principle of education to life.” Parents thus have a sacred trust: an inalienable duty and right to raise and educate their offspring.
For most women and men, this parental enterprise represents at once the most joyous and most arduous duties of their lives. From conception, our children place extraordinary demands on our bodies, our hearts, our money, and especially our time.
Parental resources are always limited. Multitasking has its limits, and bilocation is impossible. None of the saints reported to have this gift were parents.
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