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Five Parenting Lessons from GOP Presidential Candidates

Parents know that when it comes to our kids, there’s a wide range of acceptable advice on raising our children.

When is it time to take the training wheels off?  Do you force the green vegetable issue?  Do you really have to wait until a child is 13 to let them watch a PG-13 movie?   But I’ve been wondering lately about the parenting advice we seem to be getting from the 2012 GOP presidential candidates. (Don’t worry — I’ll get around to the Democrats, too!)

That’s right — parenting advice.  It might not seem like they’re dispensing tips for American moms and dads as they take to the stage in places like South Carolina, but if you listen closely they really are sending subtle and not-so-subtle messages to American families.

1. Let’s start with Michele Bachmann. She likes to boast that she’s the mom of five biological children, as well as 25 foster kids.  Whether you like her politics or not, that’s an impressive feat.   I’ve only got one daughter and it’s hard for me to keep up.  But in our house, especially since we’re a family that has a lot of  “blending,” tolerance and inclusivity are topics that are important to us that don’t seem to be on Bachmann’s hit parade of priorities.  When asked on NBC’s Meet the Press about whether she believes that same-sex couples with children are families,  her answer was, essentially,  “No.” Do we want presidential candidates passing judgment on whether our clans are bona fide families, and do we want our kids to hear that kind of political rhetoric?

2. Mitt Romney: He’s a multi-gazillionaire with several homes, including one he wants to knock down and make even bigger.  So I’m guessing he probably has help when it comes to keeping all those homes tidy.  But Romney doesn’t want us to notice that he’s a multi-gazilionnaire.  He said recently he could relate to lots of Americana because like so many, he’s unemployed!  Maybe that’s why he had this shot taken of him pitching in and doing the dishes. By hand.    Don’t get me wrong — I’m all about modeling behavior for kids that shows adults doing chores and taking responsibility. But I’m guessing that Romney has at least one dishwasher in each house to help with that Thanksgiving clean-up.  And, anyway, shouldn’t his five sons be in that photo, too?

3. Sarah Palin: I hesitate to tackle the question of what parenting advice the former Alaska Governor might have for us as she still struggles with whether she’s going to run for President in 2012 (my money still says she will).  While I don’t agree with much of anything she stands for, I do think she was attacked inappropriately during her run for vice president on the whole “is she a good mother or not” thing.  But if her hat gets thrown into that ring, Palin is going to have to address what advice she’s given to her daughter, the semi-bad girl and single mom Bristol on moving in with two semi-celebrities in Hollywood with her baby for a new reality show.

4. Rick Perry: Don’t worry about grades in college.  I think that’s the message he’s sending to kids around the country.  Texas Governor Perry seems to be doing OK in his professional political life event though he graduated with a 2.2 GPA, (that means a LOT of C’s and D’s).   Apparently that’s not a problem for Perry when it comes to Texas children because at least one report says they are some of the least prepared in the nation for college when they graduate from high school.   And as my niece the second year veterinary school student said, “Not sure if I’d trust him to run a country if he can’t put up a good fight against a few hard classes!”

5. Jon Huntsman: I’m not sure how his advance team managed it, but Huntsman, the former Utah Governor and former U.S. Ambassador China, snagged a major profile in the September issue of Vogue, in which he turns the diversity question into a positive thing — his family is a combination of Mormon & Episcopalian beliefs, and in addition to his super blond bio family, he has daughters from China and India.  Plus, the article says that his Mormon family has been known to take a sip of wine from time to time!  But seriously, even if I disagree with Huntsman on some of his politics, at least he’s giving us a lesson on what a little high profile diversity can look like.

What “parenting” advice would you take from any of the presidential candidates?

When she’s not “spinning” around these parts, you can find Joanne writing about the political world and motherhood over at her place, PunditMom. You can also find Joanne on Twitter and Facebook!

Image by Joanne Bamberger.  All rights reserved.

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