Sarah Palin's Parenting Choices Under Fire

The former Republican governor supports the McCain ticket, though she disagrees on its opposition to abortion. "She's a strong public leader for my daughters to look up to," Swift said about Palin.

Swift: 'My Kids Are Fine'

In April, when Palin delivered her son, Trig, Swift, whose three daughters are now 7 and 9, wrote the governor a note, reassuring her, "My kids are fine and hers will be, too."

"Research shows that whether they are conservative or liberal, women with small children who have a seat at the table in government have a unique perspective on policy debate," she said.

But many working mothers are incredulous that a mother of five can handle the demands of parenting while in office.

"Sarah Palin cannot be a good mother, even on the campaign trail," said Jessica Gottlieb, a stay-at-home mother of two from California, who contributes to the "It's ludicrous to assume she could be. It's not a job you can outsource."

"When you make the decision to have children you are duty bound to them," she told "The children of all four candidates are about to lose their parents for a few years."

Is Sarah Palin a Good Mother?

Jackie Fields, who is raising four children -- ages 6 to 18 -- and working full time for the Brown Shoe Co. in St. Louis, Mo., agreed.

"I don't mean to be sexist, but I have often struggled with trying to achieve that perfect work-life balance, which any working mother can tell you is next to impossible to do," she said. "In my experience something has to give."

Fields was especially surprised to learn that Palin had a developmentally challenged baby.

Elizabeth Goodwin, founder of the National Down Syndrome Society of New York, agreed that raising a baby with Down syndrome is "very, very time-consuming" for a parent.

Children with Down syndrome are dependent longer and about half of them have heart defects and muscle-tone problems that require medical intervention.

Down Syndrome: 'Not Easy'

Goodwin raised a daughter with Down syndrome, who is now 29, and two sons. "I won't pretend it's easy," she told "The school years are hard to make sure your child's education and development is focused."

But, she said, families like the Palins, with lots of siblings, tend to fare better. "With a bunch of kids you've got a built-in intervention program with all the stimulation around the house."

"More power to her," she said of Palin. "Some women are superwomen."

Palin's candidacy has "energized" social conservatives, according to Charles W. Dunn, an expert in politics and religion at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va.

McCain's choice has produced a "Palin-induced high" for evangelicals and Catholics, Dunn told "I've been following politics since the 1940s as a little boy, and I've never seen anything like it."

But even Dunn's enthusiasm for her is tempered: "She is going to have to set her priorities and it's a tricky balancing act. She'll have all sorts of pressures both feminism and biblical-based. But she appears to have what it takes."

Janine Turner, who played Maggie O'Connell on television's "Northern Exposure," which was set in Palin's home state of Alaska, is a Republican and Christian and working single mother, now on "Friday Night Lights."

She wonders if Palin's example may help her five children.

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