Parenting Experts: Are Kids Doomed To Vote Like Their Parents?

Many schools are having mock-elections this week to see how the kids feel about the candidates. But can any third-grader actually have an opinion that did not originate from his or her parents? And further — can any adult?

“How we vote as parents certainly affects our kids,” concur parenting experts Laura and Malcolm Gauld, award-winning authors of The Biggest Job We’ll Ever Have (Scribner) and The Biggest Job Workshops, the popular national seminars on effective parenting that emerged from it. “And it says a lot about

“In fact,” Laura adds, “voting is often seen as a family tradition — ‚ÄòI always admired my grandfather, and even today still think about how he would vote before I check my own vote on the ballot. We see a connection to our past, and often a call to loyalty toward our ancestors’ political affiliations.”

“Families can also vote like fans of this or that sports team,” adds Malcolm. “You know, ‚Äòhow can you support Yankees when we’ve voted for the Sox all our lives?’ But the political parties are not sports teams.”

“The election process is a time to discern our values, not only as a nation, but as individuals and family,” he continues. “Our approach to voting can present us with an opportunity to explore our choices anew – or to reinforce our identity, almost regardless of the candidates.”

And therein lies the vital role of parenting.

Rather than voting the party line, or surrendering to the candidates’ rhetoric or comments on their personalities, the Gaulds stress that parents should communicate their values to their children. Once the core beliefs of the family are out there and talked about, parents can have lively debates and political discussions about how those core beliefs align with the politics, current trends, and candidates.

“As parents we can focus on what we believe is important,” says Laura. “We can share our concerns with our kids, and our beliefs and priorities, and encourage them to think about issues themselves – to make up their own minds.”

“It’s difficult not to focus on the people running for office – they’re usually charismatic, accomplished individuals,” says Malcolm. “But in the end, what matters about the candidates is their character. How do they weigh in against our values?”

In their parenting seminars, the Gaulds articulate ten core beliefs to parents — The 10 Priorities — that address how families can find the right balance between raising children of strong character as well as achievement.

Malcolm Gauld is President of Hyde Schools, the character-building high schools that pioneered the famous “Attitude over Aptitude” philosophy, featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes, ABC’s 20/20, PBS, and more. Laura Gauld is Head of School at the Hyde School in Woodstock CT. They reside in Bath, Maine and have three children.

For more information on Malcolm and Laura Gauld, The Biggest Job We’ll Ever Have book and workshops, and Hyde Schools, contact Rose Mulligan at 207-443-7379, or by email at