General Question

jlm11f's avatar

Do your political opinions align with those of your parents?

Asked by jlm11f (12398points) September 7th, 2008

I am curious to know how many people have the same political opinions as their parents. Since we grow up listening to them and learning from them, it isn’t hard to assume that most families have “similar” opinions. Is this the case for you and your family? And if not, could you tell us how you came to differ (because you couldn’t have ALWAYS differed with their opinions from birth). Also, I think “closeness” with the parents has something to do with this. So are your opinions different/same because of your parents or in spite of them?

Also, please no party/candidate bashing. I don’t want to know why Obama/McCain is better. I think we have had enough of those threads :)

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45 Answers

Bri_L's avatar

I can barely discuss the weather with my mom.

My father and I didn’t agree until this year. He was republican until now.

Hmmmmm, wonder why.

sndfreQ's avatar

Nope-we were as close as any other family (IMO), and that didn’t influence my position on issues…thankfully, my parents did teach me to think for myself and to stand up for my own beliefs.

jlm11f's avatar

@ Bri_L – so you were always a democrat as far as you can remember? Or did something cause you to “switch sides” ?

@sndfreq – yep, that’s like my family dynamic. We disagree on things but we respect each others opinion.

I asked this question because I have met quite a few people who are republican or democrat “just because that’s how they were raised.” So I wanted to see if this is a fairly common thing.

JackAdams's avatar

Gawd, I sure as Heck HOPE NOT!

syz's avatar

Nope. My mother argues against voting democratic (though she’s never voted). Surprisingly, my father has become more open minded and actually has similar views to my own now (he used to be hard core republican and I had always assumed that most folks became more conservative as they age).

Allie's avatar

For the most part, yes. During the primaries my mom and I disagreed about which candidate should get the nominee, but we both supported the same party. We agree mostly on the issues as well.

Harp's avatar

My father was very conservative. I remember him saying once that “Nixon would be remembered as one of our greatest presidents” (and this was post-Watergate) and remarking after MLK’s assassination that he thought it was a wonderful thing for the country. Were he still alive, I’m sure he’d be one of those complaining that McCain is too liberal. My mother is completely apolitical.

My political sensibilities are, needless to say, diametrically opposed to my Father’s.

Bri_L's avatar

@ PnL – No I was never one side or the other. I always tried to listen and go with who I thought would do the most for the greater good.

The only thing I never have and never will subscribe to is the trickle down theory.

George W. Bush was the first time I knew I was NOT voting republican before I went in to vote. Palin is why I know I am not again this time.

jasonjackson's avatar

Not even close. We get along fine and love each other tremendously, but we’ve got completely different approaches and perspectives on things when it comes to politics and religion.

I think it’s just a standard generational difference: they tend to fear change, technology, gay people, and other things they don’t understand well; they’re also staunchly religious, whereas I’m not. So it’s pretty predictable that they’d be more conservative politically than me.

My brother and I have political views that are more different from our parents’ than our parents’ are/were from their parents, so our differences probably have more sources than only our necessarily more-youthful perspective. Maybe it was a liberal/logical slant in our education? Maybe it was because we grew up in an urban area, whereas the previous few generations of my family were all rural? Maybe it had to do with the recent additional availability of information via the internet, which we took more advantage of than our parents have?

Ultimately, though, I think your question presumes more influence from ones’ parents than really exists. After the age of about 6–7, they’re just one source of information/opinion in your world, and after the late teens, they’re not always even a particularly important one. I arrived at my beliefs by synthesizing a tremendous amount of information and peer feedback, only a small part of which came from my family.

cyndyh's avatar

No, not so much. I think the last Democrat my dad voted for was Carter -the first time he ran. With my mom it’s hard to tell because she’ll tell my dad she doesn’t “have to say” when he asks who she voted for. I think that means she often disagrees with him politically and doesn’t want to discuss it. I know she voted for Anderson when dad voted for Reagan. I suspect there are times my dad is a one-issue voter. We don’t discuss some things at all -like abortion. With both of them there’s a strange mix of sometimes-progressive and sometimes-backward thinking. They can both surprise me still by some of their leftover stereotypes and then at other times seem to contradict these same sentiments.

I started out a Democrat when I first voted, but I do read all I can before voting. I have voted for Independent, Green Party, and Libertarian candidates. More often than not I end up voting for a Democrat, though.

I guess you could say that I’m left-leaning, my mom is right-leaning, and my dad’s plane is crashing because he only has a right wing and he’s waaaay out on it. :^>

PeterM's avatar

Pretty much, yes. We’re a very political family; we discuss politics whenever we’re together. It’s usually the main topic of conversation.

That said, most of my family members are supporting the Democratic nominee, whereas I’ve finally been driven to cast my vote for a third party (Green) candidate. Obama’s FISA and telecom amnesty capitulations were too much for me to stomach.

marinelife's avatar

What I got from my parents (more my father) was caring about the issues, thinking about politics, a love of my country, and the importance of voting.

My father was career military. In the post-Vietnam War era, he became vociferously more conservative spouting terms like “damned liberal ilk” and cursing the so-called “liberal media.” The funny thing is (and this is something i have noticed in others) in practice, in his life, his treatment of individuals, he was much more liberal than his stated political positions.

I consider myself an independent. I vote for the person. I think there is a lot of evil and posturing in both parties.

PupnTaco's avatar

Mom, yes. Dad, no. A lifelong Republican, we’re doing our best to sway him to Obama after the last eight years.

MacBean's avatar

There are a few specific topics that my parents and I agree on but in general we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. This has been true since I became politically aware, which was at age eight, for the 1992 presidential election.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I dont really talk about politics with my parents, i will have conversations about it with my mom sometimes, and she falls on the same side of the fence as i do. I dont really think i got my view on things from her though as we never really talked about it until recently. So i formed my opinions on my own.

galileogirl's avatar

My Dad, who grew up poor in the South was pretty liberal. When I asked him how that happened, he said WWII showed him the world. My mother who grew up as a middle class grandchild of immigrants in Chicago, always voted Republican, so go figure. My siblings and I grew up in the Bay Area in the 60s so of course we were flaming liberals. We may have become a little more moderate over time but most of us ended up as teachers so at least we stayed true to our beliefs.

AstroChuck's avatar

For the most part, yes. I tend to lean a little more to the left. Well, actually a lot more.
Workers of the world, Unite!

gailcalled's avatar

We always started with the fact that we were Jewish and had a history that was hard to forget. One of my earliest memories is of my parents discussing FDR and voting for him (third term.) The only exception I remember was when Eisenhower ran for President, as the war hero, moderate Republican and compassionate man of common sense.

AstroChuck's avatar

Ah, but Stevenson was so much smarter.

girlofscience's avatar

Yeah, my parents are Democrats. In the primaries, they voted for Hillary, and I voted for Obama, but we both liked both of the candidates. They’re going to be voting for Obama in the November elections. We do often have political conversations, and we agree on at least 95% of issues. There might be random things (like the death penalty maybe?) that we don’t agree on, but that’s it. And we all think Republicans are repulsive. And if it matters, my parents are upper-middle class.

galileogirl's avatar

Wouldn’t it be great if intelligence was a plus for a presidential candidate? Many Americans trust the slick hustler and distrust intellectuals.

allengreen's avatar

After college I parted ideological company with my parents, and we are poles apart.

Bri_L's avatar

@allengreen – I had no idea you were polish.

augustlan's avatar

In theory yes. I grew up in a family of democrats, but they were old-school southern democrats. They were mostly a bunch of good ole boy bigots and sexists. So, while I am a democratic, our ideals are miles apart.

arnbev959's avatar


My dad is a proud republican. He says that “George Bush is one of the best presidents we’ve ever had.” He is anti-big government, as am I, but other than that he refuses to say what he thinks of any issues. He doesn’t know what he thinks of any other issues. He listens to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hanity on the radio every day. Sometimes I listen to it too. When I laugh he gets frustrated.

My mom is conservative, but she reads the papers. She is a one-issue-voter. She was raised Catholic, and she votes for the candidate that is pro-life, period. I have been able to sway her on a lot of other issues. She has an open mind. There is a chance I’ll be able to persuade her to vote Democrat this election.

tinyfaery's avatar

My parents were Reagan democrats, but have voted democrat since 1996. My mom thinks mccains a racist, so I’m pretty sure she’ll be voting for Obama. I don’t know about my dad. As for me, I think the whole American political system needs an overhaul. I’m so far to the left, I’m not even on the spectrum.

marissa's avatar

I sometimes agreed with my parents and sometimes I didn’t. I don’t consider myself a ‘party voter’, however, my parents tended to always vote for the candidate from the same political party every election. Growing up, I was also very fortunate to have a household that valued political debate, so I would hear the other relatives ‘argue’ for the candidate of the opposing party. We had about an equal mix of Republicans and Democrats with a few Independants in my extended family, so I was able to hear both sides. That is still how it is today with my siblings and cousins. I can’t say exactly when I started forming my own opinion of candidates, I think sometime around highschool. However, I do remember at about 5 or 6 I would repeat what I had heard my dad say about a candidate to my aunt or uncle, trying to get into the political debate just like the grown ups. Of course, at that age, I wasn’t really forming my own opinion of the candidates. But I do remember thinking, “hmmm, my parents are good and intelligent people and so are my aunt and uncle, but yet they disagree on who should be president” It is at that point that I came to realize that there are usually at least two sides to every story and that just because someone disagrees with you, it doesn’t make them bad or necessarily even wrong.

susanc's avatar

(cool thread)
My parents taught us not to argue with them. They didn’t care who I voted for or what I thought, as long as I didn’t “contradict”. There was no such thing as a political discussion in our house.
My mother married a very conservative Republican after she and my father got divorced, and though she’d campaigned for Republicans till then, the hideousness of rich Republicans’ racism/sexism/classism/greed/entitlement changed her completely. She took her long-term intellectual intolerance with her into the aristocracy and made herself completely non-negotiable by shouting at the comfy.

My brother and I shut the hell up at home. We grew up in the 60’s and were exposed to a culture of freedom and self-determination. He has always voted Republican anyway, because he went to Yale. I have always voted Democratic no matter how much despair I’ve felt over the individual candidate, because the alternative always made me feel even more despair. As a woman I knew I was part of an underclass and had solidarity with other people who aren’t automatically given a place in the upper reaches of our society – as young men are who come from the right backgrounds. My brother was one of those young men, and has no feeling for classes of people, and wonders why everyone isn’t as contented as he is, with all his privilege, which is invisible to him.

cheebdragon's avatar

my mom doesn’t vote because she doesn’t have time to follow politics, she pretty much works from 5am-6pm… the last thing she wants to do in her free time is hear campaign bullshit. My dad is a republican, but I just recently found that out. My brother is a democrat, he voted for Hillary but last time I talked to him he wasn’t sure if he was going to vote for Obama….
I have been registered as a republican since I was 18 or 19. It was a choice I made on my own….

allengreen's avatar


jlm11f's avatar

Wow, I would like to thank everyone for contributing to this thread! the “wow” was for all the great answers everyone wrote :)

It is great to know that everyone here makes their decisions based on their own thought processes i know this sounds like “yeah duh”...but believe me…after the last few days, i wasn’t sure if people even thought about the issues themselves. And I see that I overestimated the influence parents have on their kids in terms of politics…which is also good.

@galileogirl – I agree with you and really wish voters wouldn’t get scared of a possible candidate because he/she is smarter than the average man. You would think that it would be common sense to want an intelligent president, but unfortunately that is not the case.

cheebdragon's avatar

If there was actually a very intelligent person running for president, I’m sure that more people would vote for them than you think…..
Please don’t assume that anyone voting for the other party must be stupid or “scared”.
If you can’t accept that people are going to vote for the guy they feel will be best for the job (for whatever reason), then you might not be as smart as you think you are.

jlm11f's avatar

cheeb – i was not referring to any specific candidate or party. i was commenting on a general trait of intelligence and how certain people are afraid of this trait instead of wanting the person with this trait to represent their country. Read the description for the Q, I mentioned before, this has got nothing to do with McCain/Obama. And btw, I never said I thought I was smart :P

galileogirl's avatar

cheeb: P is right about a wide distrust of intelligence. As it has been pointed out very intelligent candidates usually play it down. Adlai Stevenson didn’t and he lost to the avuncular, but very ill, Eisenhower. I will assume that people who vote for the party’s candidate rather than the individual is not really doing the right thing. What would be behind that decision-fear, lack of intelligence or apathy-who can say, but according to our system one doesn’t have to be well-informed or think logically to vote.

BTW smart people should be proud of their abilities every bit as much as people who are gifted athletically, musically or any other way.

Bri_L's avatar

I would like to admit that I feel all the candidates are pretty damn smart. They would ahve to be to be where they are. Also to make the mistakes at the level and scope that they do.

cheebdragon's avatar

I wasn’t meaning you pnl, I was speaking about people in general…

jlm11f's avatar

thanks for the clarification, i wasn’t sure who you were talking to :)

allengreen's avatar

So the guy from Harvard Law Review is not smart enough to be Chee’s president, but the “talking in tounges” Palin who took 5 yrs to get a BA in Journalism from 4 different colleges—she is a fucking genius, Right?

Knotmyday's avatar

My parents are out on the far-right wingtip. I don’t cotton to their way of thinking, but I have learned not to discuss politics or religion with them.

I consider myself a moderate- social liberal, fiscal conservative, or basically whatever makes sense.

marissa's avatar

“Palin who took 5 yrs to get a BA in Journalism from 4 different colleges—she is a fucking genius, Right?”

Sorry, allen, I can’t let that statement pass. What I’m about to say has nothing to do with Palin or any other candidate….

A person’s ability to do well in school or academically, is only one type of intelligence. There are brillant individuals who did miserably in school. Just as there are straight A students that could quote the encyclopedia that are about as dumb as a door nail I hate using the word ‘dumb’ and I mean no offense to door nails, it is just a figure of speech . (okay, I’m getting down off my soapbox now, thanks for your time)

allengreen's avatar

Sorry, Marissa, I got a bit carried away. I expect more from a VP than a BA in Journalism.

marissa's avatar

@allen, I completely understand the point you were trying to make, I just had to add my little soap box mantra…lol Thanks for letting me know you understand what I’m saying :0)

ArmyWife0112's avatar

Changes in political views between one and one’s parents may have to do with several components, just to name a few below:

Lifestyle Effect: Parents are more likely to focus on their finances and maintain the social values they held as children, making them commonly more conservative than their children, who are often more liberal.

Generational Effect: Events such as the Great Depression or Watergate break in cause a lasting impact on the adults of such times to be, in these cases, more democratic or more cynical of government. Children may not have the same opinions as such events die out or may be swayed by more recent events that occur in their ‘coming of voting age’.

Education: From what I’ve seen in high school, teachers encourage students to do their own research and decide for themselves which issues they feel is important. Instead of being one-sided during political discussions in school, teachers seem to play devil’s advocate for both political parties, making students really think about why they have the opinions they do and questioning themselves over other issues as a result. I’m under the impression that such matters weren’t approached in this manner 30 or so years ago.

Technology: The current generation has access to a million sites that give opinions of political debates and issues, candidate policies, world opinions, etc. Parents weren’t so fortunate to have t.v.’s in every home, let alone a computer with internet access.

Mobility: Some parents may have grown up in small towns, lower class, unemployed, etc., and vice versa as compared to where they raised their children. Issues of location could powerfully influence a newer generation just as well as finances.

Religion: Wholly Catholic parents may not shed quite as much light on the advantages of pro-abortion, gay marriage, or stem cell research as their children might. These issues are also largely dependent on education and technology.

augustlan's avatar

@ArmyWife: Well thought out response! Welcome to Fluther : )

ArmyWife0112's avatar

:) thanks, i like this kind of stuff.

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