What happens when parents disagree with kids politically?

Are you a Democrat that raised an Alex P. Keaton? Do you wonder how that happened? Does it make holidays and election years fun?

AP writer Leanne Italie took a look at what happens when parents rear children of the opposite political persuasion. Here’s what she found:

From AP:

“NEW YORK — When David Burrows took on Barry Goldwater and Ayn Rand as “mentors” at age 14, his parents wanted to know what else he was doing that they might be ashamed of.

Andrew LaGrone’s grandmother was an Edmund Muskie delegate at the Democratic National Convention in 1972 and was stunned when Andrew became a Republican at 19.

Growing up in Buffalo, Jake Wagner’s dad assumed he’d be a Democrat. NOT.

While young people have gone “liberal” on their conservative parents for decades, teen crossovers to the GOP are more of a rarity. How do parental Dems and their Republican kids manage the familial bond when partisan politics are on the line?

As the Republican National Convention got off to a slow start Monday in Tampa, Fla., President Barack Obama continues his effort to get young people to the polls. Obama leads Mitt Romney 54 percent to 38 percent among voters younger than 35, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll.

No matter. The 21-year-old LaGrone in Nebraska and 19-year-old Wagner in New Hampshire are staying busy marshaling campus support for the Romney-Ryan ticket as they looked back on where it all began. Burrows, 50 and living in his hometown of Dallas, has lost both his parents, but he remembers their reaction to his Republican awakening like it was yesterday.

His dad threatened to cut him off financially once he mustered the courage to tell his parents he had broken from his Democratic roots to become head of the Baylor University GOP in 1983 — and a year later, chairman of the college Republicans of Texas.

“My dad made a comment about, well, the Republican Party’s for rich people so maybe you should get your rich friends to pay your tuition,” Burrows recalled, “and I was, like, uh oh, what have I done?”

And mom? She would drop him off at the library while she went shopping. That’s where he discovered Rand and Goldwater, the longtime Arizona senator and Mr. Conservative himself.

“My mom patted me and she goes, ‘Well that’s good for you but let’s just keep this a secret in the family,’” he said. “I never understood how they lumped in my political views with taking drugs, having illicit sex and cheating on exams, but it somehow carried with it the same ‘immoral’ baggage.”

Read the rest here….

I agree with one of my parents politically and disagree with the other. It does get ugly when we talk politics. I generally avoid the topic. I used to watch a lot of political shows when I was younger. But not so much any more.

We talk about issues facing our country with our kids and try to present both sides. I hope they end up seeing the world the way I do.

Do you agree with your child politically? Did you try to sway them when they were young? Do you present both sides of the political debate on an issue or just the side with which you agree? Do you let them watch/listen to political shows? Do you want them to form their own opinions or follow your view? Have you threatened to cut them off? Can you discuss issues reasonably or does it get ugly?

41 comments Add your comment


August 28th, 2012
1:12 pm

“We talk about issues facing our country with our kids and try to present both sides. I hope they end up seeing the world the way I do.”

Oh God, let’s hope NOT. If they see the world as you do, they will never leave the house.

Just goes to show that the old saying is true...

August 28th, 2012
1:23 pm

…you never talk religion, money, or politics with friends or family…


August 28th, 2012
1:24 pm

Seems to me that most young people….in general…..still skew somewhat ‘liberal’ (certainly plenty of exceptions) and then many develop more-moderate/conservative atttitudes as they get ‘all growed up’.

Luckily, it also seems that with each new generation of young conservatives comes a swing toward a more moderate view of most social issues, even while adopting strong stances that are fiscally-conservative. This seems to make sense as the political influence of the uber-religious right continues to wane with each generation (hallelujah!) :-)

Interestingly, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” just last week started something of a controversy with his comments ‘creationism’ and why it’s inappropriate to teach it to our kids.


August 28th, 2012
1:25 pm

s/b “comments regarding ‘creationism’ “…sorry….

Many years ago (the 50's, 60's and most of the 70's)...

August 28th, 2012
1:27 pm

…it was widely believed that Democrats were generally the “poor” and Republicans were generally the “rich”. Thank goodness most of that has changed…

And with Obama for the past 4 years there are many more of us who are now considered “poor”, and we WILLl vote for the “rich man”…

Tiger Ochocinco Johnson Cougar Mellencamp

August 28th, 2012
1:46 pm

“We talk about issues facing our country with our kids and try to present both sides. I hope they end up seeing the world the way I do”

Why in the world would that be a goal of any parent? I want my kid to see the world as HE sees it, provided that is an informed, educated, and thought out view.

“Do you want them to form their own opinions or follow your view?” Seriously?

My kid isn’t into politics yet, but he’s at that age now where he’s asking a lot about religion and religious beliefs because we live near one of those huge mega churches that causes a traffic jam every Sunday. We’ve explained to him why people go and the concept of worshipping and faith, etc and so on. He asked if I believed in God and I told him no and he said “that’s what I believe then too” and I had to get on him a little bit and tell him that he doesn’t get to make that decision right now, nor does he have to and that there will come a time in his life where he could really read up on religion and understand the “why’s” and “what’s” and then he could make his own decision, but that I would be very disappointed in him if he just assumed that all of my beliefs were correct for him just because they were correct for me. I think the same should go for politics. We’re parents, we’re just as full of it as anyone…at some point in any kid’s life, he or she figures that out. I think it’s it’s incumbent upon a parent to teach them how to form their own opinions on issues like these.


August 28th, 2012
1:50 pm

Back in the late 1960s, we shot kids at Kent State who opposed the war. I well remember another kid in my dorm who’s father told him that if he had been in that demonstration, he hoped his own son would have been shot, too.

Ditto for white kids who proposed equal rights and an end to segregation. Many of those families broke then, and have still not been re-united. Parent-child political debates are not the relationship killing arguments that they were a generation ago.

Children have always tested their parents by siding with the other guys during adolsecence. It used to be that the children of Christians became hippies. Nowadays, agnostic parents are finding Christian children who revolt by finding God.

It is a dance that happens each generation. And it is always new.


August 28th, 2012
1:53 pm

I do not expect my own two to see things eye to eye with me. They have brought ideas home that I had to warm up to. I expect them to know things I do not know and/or meet folks with ideas that are different from what they have heard at home. We are pretty good about discussing things around here. We do not always agree.

The color of skin has NO bearing IMHO on who will make the best president. We have all sorts of friends from different races and culures. This is NOT how I grew up. Nor how my husband grew up. We like people for just being nice/honest/hardworking people.

If you are looking for someone to build you a house, you look for someone who has built houses of quality. That person probably does have money because he or she is good at what they do and others have paid them for their services. We are not wealthy. We are not poor either. We are poorer than we were 5 years ago but not as poor as we were 30 years ago when we rented a trailer to live in, in South Texas. I am looking for someone who will build this house called America. It appears to have a cracked foundation now, of folks who think the government can provide for them forever. UM even the government will run out of money. It does no matter what they promised.

My two know this….those who have money have typically done something to get that money. If you do a good job at what you do, you will most likely have money. There are exceptions to any rule. That is unless the government decides to take the money and then you will not want to work at all.

Not all young people all liberals. Many of them are simply tired of folks who make promises they cannot keep. While it would be easier for a parent to tell their children they can eat ice cream 3 times a day, the kids will be healthier if they eat some fruits and veggies too. It seems like lots of folks want to elect someone who can make promises …but will they be able to keep them?

Tiger Ochocinco Johnson Cougar Mellencamp

August 28th, 2012
1:57 pm

@MJG….”It appears to have a cracked foundation now, of folks who think the government can provide for them forever”…I agree…and THAT is why Social Security should be privatized.


August 28th, 2012
2:04 pm

@Tiger…I do not even look for SS. If it is there, that will be a bonus. I have said this at least 10 times to people in the past few weeks…

“We promised our kids that we would help them with college. We helped our son through undergrad. We help him some now but not as much. He will have a Doctorate, we do not. We are helping out daughter now. If one of us lost our job, we may have to break the promise…if it meant our mortgage or their college. The Government can promise all it wants but if there is no money…IT DOES NOT MATTER!”


August 28th, 2012
2:15 pm

We have had lots of fun talking politics in our house lately as our son becomes more aware of the world around him (certainly one of the joys of raising a teenager!) Between Chick-Fil-A & the Gay rights movement, our local elections (not to mention neighboring Clayton Co’s debacle) and it being a national election year, there’s a ton to talk about. It’s nice to be able to talk about issues and why people feel a certain way and how that impacts other people and then to ultimately consider what and why each of us feels a certain way on that particular issue in a non-threatening environment. While my husband and I are both conservatives, neither of us are die-hard Republicans so we tend to point out the absurdities of both parties (and deplore the fact that we still live in a two-party society for all intents and purposes) but my husband certainly comes from a more conservative/religious background than I and we definitely don’t agree on everything.. . and yet we still manage to stay married! I would never dis-own or cut my son off for his political views just as I won’t de-friend someone for theirs (assuming they’re just as respectful of my opinion as I am of theirs). THAT is what I hope my son learns from me about my political views.


August 28th, 2012
2:55 pm

My younger daughter, since she married, is farther to the right than she was before. It worries me, but I am interested in if she can make the case AND SUPPORT IT WELL. I challenge her when we disagree, and if she is able to give valid support, I am okay if we disagree. If she parrots mindless drivel, I would be horrified.

My elder daughter is in about the same place I am. My son, however, is farther to the left than he was raised. Guess it evens out.

I think I am further to the right than I was when I was 20, but I think I am more in the middle than most.


August 28th, 2012
2:58 pm

And it is GREAT to have adult children, thinking and exploring their own ideas, to talk to about important things. I would NOT want my children blindly accepting my version of reality.

Voice of Reason

August 28th, 2012
2:59 pm

I hope my kids are realists like I am in that when they look at the political world as it exists today, they will see that here is no good side, there is only the choice between the lesser of two evils, and when they realize that, as I have, that they are really not given a choice, they are given a tremendous lack of options.

May the less corrupt windbag win….

K's Mom

August 28th, 2012
3:08 pm

My parents and I are pretty much on the same page…fiscally conservative, socially liberal. My dad, who is 66, still has a hard time with marriage equality, but I am pretty impressed that someone his age who is conservative can see that legally it makes sense. My mom and I are hard core pro choice and will fight to our dying days to ensure that abortion is legally available while working to make it unnecessary through education.

Now my husband is so conservative both fiscally and socially that there are times I want to beat my head against the wall. I probably make him want to do the same! We have lively debate and most of the time neither of us gets mad.

I hope our boys find their own way politically as long as they can give honest and valid reasons for the way they feel.


August 28th, 2012
3:43 pm

“Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”
― Winston Churchill

I always wondered how Darma and Greg’s child would turn out.

My Dad always said “Conservative or move out!” My Godfather (a hippie in the 60s) and my dad were talking once. I said how could you two end up good friends with such opposing views? My Godfather replied “it helps to be fiscally conservative, socially liberal. it also helps to remember to be respectful of the other person.”

I went to school and obtained a Bachelor of Science from KSU in Political Science. From that I learned to think for myself and ended up Libertarian.

I do think that Liberals are far less tolerant of GOP leaning children than vice versa, at least from the families that I personally know.


August 28th, 2012
3:46 pm

My three step-children all have different levels of interest in politics. Personally, I’m a conservative and so is their father but their mother is liberal. It’s been interesting to see their views change as they get older. When they were younger, they simply repeated everything they heard from their mother. We would ask them why they believed that and offered some facts in the form of questions that they had to think about. We’ve always taught them not to believe ANYTHING simply because someone else said it or they saw it on the internet or heard it on TV. We’ve drilled into them that their beliefs should be supported through their own research into the actual facts and then they should form their own opinions. We’ve also taught them that a truly educated individual has an open mind and that means, possibly changing your political leanings based on new information.

Another important lesson to teach your kids is to make sure that politicians’ words and actions actually match up. Some politicians will say anything to get elected and they may be promising things that are impossible to deliver. Also, don’t judge a politician by their party affiliation, judge them by their actions and deeds. I’ve always been a staunch republican, but I have crossed over more than once to vote for a democrat who I felt had more integrity and better ideas than the Republican running for the same office. What our kids choose to follow as far as political or religious views, for that matter, are completely out of our control, however, I fervently hope that they base their views on their own self-education as to the facts and not on 30-second sound bites or misleading headlines.


August 28th, 2012
3:57 pm

My experience and observations over the years have lead me to this conclusion: While we are young and in school, or young and working for someone else, we are generally “left” thinking.
As we get older and/or own and operate our own business, we turn more “right” in our outlook.
I see very few business owners who are “left” thinkers.


August 28th, 2012
3:58 pm

@catlady ….100% agree with your 2:58 post.


August 28th, 2012
4:06 pm

@Mike…ditto on your last line. To me, this is the problem. We need business owners to employ other people and make purchases that employ others too. Those who have never worked for themselves, do not understand the ying and yang. Many business owners have taken enormous risks to become successful and employ others too. Not everyone, who is whining, can or would take that risk to be successful. That is why they are worker bees and not business owners. They can go home and not worry if there is money to make payroll and/or the mortgage. Some business owners go months without even taking a draw. Most worker bees could not do this.

Once Again

August 28th, 2012
4:08 pm

There is so much political ignorance in this country that literally tens of thousands of authors remain well-employed trying to rectify the sitation. Sadly most of them only add to the problem.

If your child develops political views different from yours, I would suggest that you not only investigate the source of their views, but also the source of YOURS. Does your knowledge of things like the Federal Reserve, the income tax, the drug war, the wars in the middle east, the constitution, fiat money, property rights, civil rights, civil liberties, the republican and democratic parties, the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the electoral college, the second amendment, the first amendment, habeus corpus, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the Luisitania, Pearl Harbor, the Great Depression, Operation Northwoods, Ruby Ridge, Waco, and other critical issues in modern politics come from CNN, FOX, MSNBC, the AJC, the NY Times, the Wall Stree Journal, what you learned in school or from independent reading accross the political spectrum (yes, there are more colors than black and white)? Can you even have a discussion with others on the subjects I listed?

I read terms like “both sides” and “left and right” in just these few posts and it is obvious that much of society’s ideas are laid down by those who benefit from structuring the discussion in their favor.

When you say both sides, do you mean the side that thinks we should only spend $200 billion on a program versus the side that thinks we should spend $600 billion? What about the side that questions whether spending even one penny is constitutional or the appropriate role of government? And what is the left and what is the right? What is a liberal or a conservative. Historically these terms meant just the OPPOSITE of what they conventionally mean today. Were you even aware of that?? Does the label “liberal” or “conservative” when applied to someone automatically generate a negative emotional response? Do you not think that there is more than a coincidence for the use of these terms?

David Nolan, founder of the Libertarian Party created a chart that categorizes the divisions in political thought in a much more accurate way. In his view there is economic freedom and personal freedom, and individual beliefs can better be expressed by examiniing one’s views on how much personal or economic freedom you think an individual should be allowed to exercise. In the end we see that the real dichotomy is between libertarian and authoritarian with shifts to the left or right generally distinguishing between what is today considered democrat or republican ideas. But such a presentation doesn’t fit well into the black and white, us versus them, democrat versus republican, winner versus loser dichotomy that serves the ruling class so well. Divide and conquer. You are either with us or with the terrorists. Our candidate is horrible, but at least he isn’t one of “them.” We go through this every election cycle.

It is either your way or your kids way. Does that sound like a way to grow a healty society?

Is it possible that you can want a small government that costs very little, leaves the economy alone, and also doesn’t lock people up for smoking a plant so long as they do not hurt anyone? Is that person a liberal? A conservative? See how the traditional dichotomy just doesn’t work? Can you want small government and also want to work against the biggest government program of all – war? Certainly seems like a consistent value system, but suggest such and they will call you a liberal. Can you want to seriously help out the poor and disadvantaged and also realize that giant bureaucratic structures that are moved by political pressures and not by love, voluntary contributions, and genuine caring are NOT the best means to help the needy? The evidence would support this thought process, but say that around a bunch of democrats and you are likely to be called an insensitive conservative pig.

If you can’t articulate exactly WHY you believe something (in your own words, not Wolf Blitzer or Hannity’s), then you shouldn’t be surprised that your child has found someone else who can and whose ideas they now believe. If your child cannot articulate exactly WHY they believe something, challenge them to provide supporting evidence and go find some for your position. Go somewhere else besides Wikipedia (although their open architechture does allow far more ideas to make it into print than the NY Times allows for sure). Find out what the libertarians have to say on the subject, or the Greens, or the founding fathers (their own words please), or great leaders from other countries outside of the US.

I know dozens of libertarian parents whose children all share their views. They would never expect anything else, because the philosophy is internally consistent. Some of the greatest stories I heard from the past two Ron Paul campaigns have been about kids as young as ten embracing the consistent philosophy of libertarianism and exciting their parents with its lack of duality on the pressing issues of the day. The fact that tens of thousands of young people have shown up at campuses all over the country (even UC Berkely) to hear and cheer for Dr. Paul clearly shows that the so-called liberal philosophy is no longer the one that has captivated the youth of america. It is clearly not the so-called conservative philosophy either.

Maybe the internal conflict that both parties share (I hate big government, but I love big government war and I hate big business welfare, but I love big government welfare) are finally beginning to show their true colors to the generations that are going to have to pay the bills for all this govenrment excess. A more consistent philosophy that is based on freedom, liberty, individual responsibility, voluntary charity, and a government that protects rights and doesn’t violate them seems to be cathing on. I applaud every child that goes a different way politically, for it is the politics of their parents that have gotten us to this screwed up place we are in today.

There are far more than two sides to every story. Maybe you and your children are all looking for the one that actually makes consistent sense. I encourage you all to keep looking – but turn off the TV. The media definitely has an agenda and definitely needs to have you see THEIR side of the story as the right one.


August 28th, 2012
4:20 pm

@MJG – you totally lost the battle of the longest thread today to Once Again. You should make note of today’s blog the next time someone say’s you’re long winded! Hahaha

JF McNamara

August 28th, 2012
4:33 pm

“Do you let them watch/listen to political shows?”

Absolutely NOT. I want my kid to use his brain to form his own opinions not be brainwashed by the village idiots. A radio and TV hosts job is to entertain. It’s not to educate or be factually accurate. You’re doing your kids a disservice if you let them watch or listen to that garbage.

Most of them don’t even have college level degrees yet position themselves as an intellectual. If you want to follow them, do so. If you want to help your kids, then give them facts (real facts) and historical examples on how the same problems were handled and turned out in the past. We don’t need another generation of dittohead idiots.


August 28th, 2012
4:43 pm

If you read “Once Again’s” post, please give the the Cliff’s Notes version. I feel that there was something in there worth reading, but I couldn’t dedicate the effort to find it.


August 28th, 2012
4:49 pm

JF McNamara, not all political shows are garbage or designed to entertain. Some of the network Sunday morning shows (This Week, Meet the Press, Face the Nation) do a pretty good job of interviewing political figures and presenting different viewpoints intelligently through their roundtable segments. Washington Week on PBS is very good too (It’s nationally broadcast, right? It’s produced by my local station, so I’m not sure.).

JF McNamara

August 28th, 2012
4:59 pm


He can research the issues on his own. There’s a mountain of facts on the internet and I can teach him to think critically about issues on his own. He needs to be able to come to his own conclusions by having empathy for both sides. You can’t teach that when your kid is constantly told what to do by the telescreen (obscure reference) or swayed by opinion.


August 28th, 2012
5:05 pm

@Techmom…thanks…I am marking this date down…haha!

Once Again

August 28th, 2012
5:55 pm

If you aren’t willing to read even that much then my point is lost on you anyway.

Bottom line, both you and your kids need to get actually educated on politics from sources other than the mainstream media, the government, and the folks with a vested interest in the status quo. Challenge your own beliefs and where they ACTUALLY come from and demand the same of your kids. Your likely political ignorance even about the party you think promotes your ideas, is at the heart of america’s political problems. Internal conflicts of principles underly both major political parties so look elsewhere for consistent principles that speak to your heart and STICK WITH THEM regardless of who they say is winning the latest horse race – hint, its not a horse race, its the future of our country.

Once Again

August 28th, 2012
5:57 pm

Techmom – I guess your political discourse is handled through bumper stickers?


August 28th, 2012
7:53 pm

It’s a little to early for our kids to have political opinions of their own, but we are already trying to teach them that they need to at least be informed voters when they get older. We encourage them to read age-appropriate books about history, and, as long as the subject matter isn’t too sensitive, we discuss our political views in front of them (my husband and I agree on most but not all issues). They usually accompany me when I vote, and on the way home I give them a short explanation of how I voted and why.
I do hope they will agree with me when they get older, but I don’t want them to blindly follow my political beliefs. If more people took the time to read up on history and actually THINK before voting, the political landscape would look a lot different.


August 28th, 2012
8:38 pm

Can we have a maximum word count on blog comments please?


August 28th, 2012
9:48 pm

My kids are about as politically active as they come. We agree on most political topics, but every once in a while, something will come along that we find ourselves on opposite sides of. And that’s fine. Life is really, really dull when you agree all the time! And, hopefully, both kids have learned how to discuss a topic rather than argue it. Mock trial and debate team was great for helping them consider both sides of an question. We spent a LOT of time while they were growing up teaching them the difference. It’s called “respect”. He’s in a position now where many of his political opinions are influenced by the opportunity to watch a great deal of behind-the-scenes political maneuvering, so political conversations with him these days are particularly interesting!

My parents and I were on opposite sides of the political fence philosophically, but on most day-to-day issues, we had similar views. We always teased each other during presidential elections — my dad would offer not to vote if I wouldn’t, “since we were just going to cancel each other out!” I can’t imagine getting so mad at a child that I would throw them out of the house if they voted differently from me!


August 28th, 2012
10:51 pm

Simple, have always taught my children to understand what our government was set forth to do (i.e. read and understand the Constitution). Have also reminded them to pretend they are always paid totally in cash and then immediately have to fork over the same cash at “tax windows.” They are much more observant as to where their tax dollars go and thus observant how our government is spending it.

If their beliefs are different from mine, so be it.


August 28th, 2012
11:10 pm

You send them to Bed without Milk and cookies!


August 28th, 2012
11:35 pm

A caveat to my earlier “if their beliefs are different from mine, so be it.” If I knew one of my children was one of those dressed in a “giant vagina costume” greeting those at the RNC in Tampa, my message, “Don’t come home. We’ve changed the locks and left our money to the cats.”


August 28th, 2012
11:53 pm

I would characterize myself, like so many, as fiscally conservative and socially progressive. Always encouraged my boys to think critically and think for themselves and I believe they do that. That being said, their views are similar (but not the same) as mine so it makes me wonder if I had more influence over their ideas than I thought I did.


August 29th, 2012
12:23 am

well with all kids being entitled now, no wonder they are liberal.. my god, everything is handed to them and they now expect it.. This wont change.. that is why they love the fool in the white house..


August 29th, 2012
6:55 am

@MJG and pfft LOVED your posts!

It'sKinderGARTEN Dammit

August 29th, 2012
8:47 am

I strongly feel that if my daughter ends up with the exact same political beliefs as me, I will have failed as a parent in a key area.

My job is to raise an independent young woman with critical thinking skills. There is no way that she can have the exact same experiences and biases that I do. If she follows my lead exactly that means she is just spewing back what she has heard and not thinking about it.


August 29th, 2012
10:50 am

@oberver..too funny, I totally agree. I don’t mind if my kids have differing opinions but if their fundamental beliefs were completely different i.e…if they were occupying Wall Street, I’d have a very difficult time.

I vote almost exclusively Republican but I am pretty liberal on social issues. IMO the social issues are just are not as important on a national level. I’m much more concerned about national security and increasing debt. I might be for gay marriage but I’m not going to vote for someone just because he says he believes in it while I’m worried about how America is going to pay back all this debt.

@ Once Again.. I read and thoroughly enjoyed your post. Very thought provoking. I do believe that the ideas Libertarianism are becoming more well known and accepted. I could easily be considered Libertarian in my thinking. I recently took a quiz about issues and which candidate I should choose based on my answers. The result was Ron Paul. :-) Change is coming because the Republicans and Democrats are just becoming too extreme. Most people, I believe, fall somewhere in the middle.

As far as my kids, my daughter (9) is pretty clueless but my 12yr old son could be described as Alex Keaton. He even has a picture of Ronald Reagan as his screen saver.


August 29th, 2012
11:33 am

I decided if mine go fiscal conservative I will throw them a party.