The Washington Post

Voting with kids: worth the hassle?

In our house Tuesday morning, I felt like I was the one sprinting to the presidential finish line.

(Joe Skipper/Reuters)

The noble effort led us to end of a line that moved slow enough for every adult in it to wear out their iPhone battery and the few kids there to start moaning that they’d rather be at school.

Was it worth it?

According to political scientists who track voting trends, it probably isn’t if a parent expects to instill a voting ethic. Voting with a child may be a symptom of family’s broader political engagement — and that does matter. But lugging a child through the paces alone doesn’t seem to make much difference.

That said, my husband vividly remembers accompanying his mother to the polls the year she cast a vote for a peanut farmer with a funny accent. He said it made a great impression on him.

Other folks, too, think it can be an invaluable civics lesson. “Taking your children to the polls and educating them on our political process is crucial in nurturing responsible voters of tomorrow,” reads a petition that asks parents to pledge to bring kids to vote Tuesday.

For myself, I have always brought my girls to vote with me in local elections, but more for practical reasons than intentional.

Tuesday, I might have gone to the polls after school drop-off (presumably a shorter line and an opportunity to read the paper) if it weren’t for my husband’s nostalgia.

It turned out, I was glad we suffered through the cold and arrived late at our respective schools and offices. Because my girls did learn one important lesson.

When we first arrived, my older daughter uttered in awe, “This line’s even bigger than the cupcake one.”

“Yeah,” echoed the younger.

So, yes, they got the message that there are some privileges even greater than a cupcake. And that’s something.

Have you planned or do you plan to bring your kids to the polls? Why or why not?

Related Content:

The Alex P. Keaton myth

A parental act that predicts if a child becomes a voter

Answering the question ‘why vote?’


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