I did not grow up in a civically engaged home. Even though I didn't have a model for what participating in our country's democratic process looked like, I still found a strong pull towards this civic act and to have my voice heard.
I voted for the very first time just after I turned 26.
Voting was a privilege I took seriously, but it was not until after I became a mother that voting became a sacred duty and tradition for me and my family. After my son was born, I began to pay attention to the issues that can have an impact on his short and long-term future. I realized that the bubbles I filled in on my ballot carried consequences that were no longer just about me, but about our family too.
Decisions are made for our families every election year in the form of propositions and measures or in the form of candidates that will write and pass laws that impact our homes and communities.
We, as parents, cannot afford to stand idly by while decisions are being made for us and our families.
This week I set out to hear why parents vote.
I found renewed motivation and inspiration as I heard from parents all across the country when I asked them the following question: "As a parent, why do you vote?" The following are a few of the responses I heard:
Parents vote for their child's future
"I vote for my girls. For the policies that affect them and to set an example. Even if things don't turn out your way, you still show up, you still try, you still put effort into supporting what you believe. You cannot be a bystander in your own life."
Melissa Struchen, Pennsylvania
"I vote because the choices we make today affect my children's future tomorrow."
Mary Monahan, Nebraska
"I vote for my children's future. I vote for my opinions to be heard."
Diana Friedman Cole, Georgia
"I vote for my children's future. The decisions we make as parents today will affect the world our children grow into. If you don't vote, your voice cannot be heard. We discuss as a family every chance we get to ensure our kids understand the need for every American to have a say by submitting their vote."
Julie Smith Dikken, Colorado
Parents vote to raise future voters
"Voting was an integral part of my upbringing. My parents emphasized how important it was to have our voices heard through our vote and the process of voting. And now that tradition has continued through my children. My eldest would go with me and my husband to vote in person when we lived in California. Now living in Washington, it is a mail-in state, so they can now witness that process."
Sasha Leyva, Washington
"I think it’s important to teach children that it is our civic duty to be informed citizens and to vote to be a part of the political process. I want them to know that their vote matters — I have taken my kids to vote with me in every single election since they were born, starting with the 2008 presidential election when my oldest was only one month old. She thinks it’s cool that she was in the voting booth for that election. While this year may look a little different, I intend to try to make them a part of the mail-in voting process as well."
Ashley Cass Morse, Florida
Parents vote because the process matters
"I vote to help affect change for the causes I believe in and when possible I take my children with me to vote to model for them the importance (and ease) of voting."
Jen Anderson, Pennsylvania
"I vote because every single vote matters. President Kennedy won the popular vote (in 1960 against Richard Nixon) by 112,000 votes, which works out to roughly 1 vote per precinct. I think of that with every election and make sure to cast my vote.
Barbara Evangelista, Massachusetts
"I vote because it is my privilege to do so. Many throughout history, and still so many in this world, do not have a voice. I vote for them and to show my kids that their voice will matter too."
Helen Paltrow, New York
"My husband and I stand on different sides of most elections and do not agree on several big issues that may affect who we vote for. This leads to some interesting — and heated — family conversations especially now that my kids are teens. Although it can be frustrating, I'm happy we are teaching our kids we can respectfully disagree with others, and still have civil conversations about political issues. The kids have voted with us numerous times, and recognize we feel voting is a priority, even if we negated the other's vote!"
Jennifer Chasse, Virginia
Parents vote to honor the legacy of those who fought for the right to vote
"I remember learning about Susan B. Anthony in elementary school and even wrote and delivered a speech on women’s suffrage as part of the lesson. But it wasn’t until I saw the movie "Iron-Jawed Angels" about Alice Paul and Lucy Burns that I really understood exactly how hard these women had to fight for this right, how much they were abused and violated, and what they sacrificed. I vote to honor them."
Kyrie Collins, Colorado
"I vote to make my voice heard and honor those who worked & fought to get this right. I vote to speak for those who feel voiceless."
Mary Englin, Washington
"I vote because it is my duty as an American citizen. I vote because our ancestors fought for our freedom of choice and for us to lift up our voices. Without votes, we are not heard."
Jones Grace Agostino, New York
This election year — in the midst of what has been one of the most challenging years in U.S. history — is an especially crucial year to vote. This is our opportunity to make our voices heard, and to teach our children — the next generation of leaders — how important it is for them to raise their own voices.
Vote for your children, vote because they are watching how we step up for them and their future. Vote because your voice matters.
Voting resources we love:
- Register to vote
- A comprehensive, non-partisan resource for parents by parents on what to know, ask, and do this election season
- Resources and activities related to voting for kids
Zulema Gomez is the publisher of Macaroni Kid San Marcos-Vista, Calif.