Pete Buttigieg came under fire for taking parental leave last fall after he and his husband Chasten, welcomed newborn twins. The Transportation secretary — the youngest to hold that position and the youngest member of President Joe Biden's cabinet — said fatherhood has changed his perspective.
"My relationship to the future used to be that I thought of myself as the youngster in the room and the person with the most at stake," he said to CBS News' Errol Barnett. "Obviously, that changes when you hold a child in your arms and you realize you're training your replacements in this world — and you got to make sure things unfold well for them.
"That's I think, what we all try to do as parents," said Buttigieg, who is about to turn 40. "And it's definitely what I'm trying to do in this role in the administration, too."
Buttigieg, who was 29 when he became the second-youngest mayor in South Bend, Indiana's history, and his husband Chasten welcomed twins Penelope Rose and Joseph August in September. Their announcement threw a national spotlight onto gay parenthood, and Buttigieg has since said that he hopes that a national parental leave policy — which was ultimately cut from last year's reconciliation bill — would change the culture around taking leave.
Having children, he also told CBS News, has shifted the way he looks at policy.
"I come to policy with the same values, but the stakes are different. When you look into the eyes of your 5-month-old child and ask yourself, 'What are we doing to make sure that the world is going to be safe and healthy for you?' It just, for me, it lights a fire," he said.
They twins will head to college in 2039, he said, and he pictures what the world will be like then.
"I know that the decisions we make right now are going to make or break the America that they will grow up in, work and go to school in and — I hope — thrive," he said. "And so it just creates a different sense of urgency."