Gen Z moms are less likely to support gun control and paid leave this election year, our survey shows

It’s an election year in America, and the issue of gun control, which has been a hot-button topic in the states for many years, is still a hot-button topic. That’s mainly because mass shootings and school shootings haven’t stopped: Between 1997 to 2022, there were 1,453 school shootings. In 2023 alone, there were 655 mass shootings, according to the gun violence archive. As a country, we’ve been grappling with this truly horrific phenomenon for decades—and we’ve been experiencing the consequences of failed action for just as long. 

You’d think this critical issue, along with climate change, the financial crisis and the childcare crisis would be top of mind for everyone as we ramp up to the presidential election this November—but that’s not necessarily the case. 

Motherly’s seventh annual State of Motherhood survey shows that at least 85% of all moms support federally mandated paid leave, regulation to address climate change, federally protected reproductive rights and increased gun control policies. That’s great, right? Except that the other part of this finding shows that moms under 30 are three times less likely to support these policies.

Here’s what the survey found: 

  • Moms over 30 (with school-age children) are more likely to place gun control in the top 1 or 2 issues compared to moms under 30
  • Moms in older demographics are more concerned about reproductive rights, possibly as they think about their own daughters
  • Moms under 40 are more likely to prioritize family leave and childcare, still having the greatest need for those programs and services
  • Moms under 30 rate environmental concerns as high as healthcare access or costs

It’s worth noting that moms under 30 are the demographic who were most recently in high school. Meaning that Gen Z mothers are more likely to have experienced a horrific incident of gun violence on a school campus and/or have experienced going through safety drills—which studies show are not without their mental health impacts.

Though the survey does not delve into why moms may be more or less supportive of policy action, the results suggest some amount of apathy among younger moms that further regulation will lead to real systemic change.

But loss of humanity starts when we stop caring.

Is it any surprise that this demographic is less likely to support these federal policies? Maybe not. There’s something to be said about the fact that this generation grew up witnessing—and possibly being disillusioned by—our collective systemic failures. That apathy or skepticism may stem from observing, between childhood and adulthood, as our country named problem after problem, came up with viable solutions but then continued on the same path as always—no evidence of lasting change in sight. 

For me, reading these statistics was disheartening, to say the least. I’m a 30-something Millennial who has been struggling with the idea of raising a child in America since I got married. 

My husband and I have the same conversation over and over again, like we’re stuck on a merry-go-round that never stops. Do we want kids? Yes. Do we want to raise kids in America? No. Not only do we live in a country that doesn’t have a national paid parental leave policy, we live in a country that has the audacity to regulate reproductive rights for women. Which basically means: You must have the baby, and, oh, we won’t give you any time to recover, bond or in any way help with raising said baby. The US is 1 of 6 countries worldwide that doesn’t offer national paid leave. Factor in the rising cost of living and the statistics regarding gun violence and the idea of becoming a parent today, to me, is pretty terrifying.

Perhaps this demographic is tired of seeing the same headlines every few months. In the age of TikTok and Instagram Reels, media overexposure and the grim, horrifying images every age group has access to, numbness can creep in before you even know it. 

But loss of humanity starts when we stop caring. A person doesn’t need to have children in order to care about all of the kids who wake up with the fervor of youth in the morning and set off to go to school, fully believing that they’ll come back home in the afternoon. PSA: Going to school should not be considered a dangerous activity. 

You could be homeschooling, you could have kids in private or public school, you might have small babies that make school issues seem far off in the distance or maybe you’re on the fence about having kids at all—no matter what season of life you’re in, these policies matter. They can determine quality of life for you or a loved one, and they’ll have an impact for generations to come—just as the policies from 50 years ago affect us still today.

Every election year is a critical year. We’re not just filling in bubbles on a random piece of paper—we are actively choosing who will represent our needs and listen to our concerns, and who will push forward policies that can impact our everyday lives—and those of people around us. 

As we seek to enlist political leaders who will enact better policies, it’s worth bearing in mind that our children will not only inherit the earth we leave behind—but they’ll also be subject to the framework of policies we leave behind—or lack thereof. Here’s hoping our legacy is one of human kindness rather than human apathy.

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