Capri-Sun or Mott’s. Time-out chair or counting to three. Huggies or Pampers. Regular or alternative vaccine schedule. Chicken fingers or buttered noodles. Private or public school. Romney or Obama.
Parenthood is a long series of mundane and monumental decisions. So throwing in a choice for leader of the free world doesn’t freak us out. In fact, in Parenting’s recent survey of more than 1,100 moms and dads, done in conjunction with NBC News, we found that having kids is one of the greatest influencers of who we check on the ballot: 42 percent of parents have changed their political views since having children; 48 percent have become more politically motivated since becoming a parent.
The survey uncovered a lot of interesting nuggets about the intersection of parenting and politics, which we shared with a group of mom and dad voters at a roundtable in New York City. (Read more about it here). However, there was one nugget that didn’t make it into the story, and for us here at the Pop Culture laboratories, it's the most interesting of them all.
According to our survey, dads are “very knowledgeable” about political topics, at least in their own minds. Conversely, moms are “somewhat knowledgeable.” We asked the survey participants to rate their knowledge on a variety of subjects: the economy, civil liberties, education, foreign policy, taxes, Middle East security, the environment, gun control, health care. For all of the above, more dads than moms claimed to be “very knowledgeable,” often at a rate of two to one. Mom was most likely to choose "somewhat knowledgable." Interestingly, the only issue where moms surpassed dads in the “very knowledgeable” category was abortion.
During the roundtable, NBC News correspondent and contributor to Rock Center with Brian Williams Kate Snow asks the group, “Who do you think claimed to be very knowledgeable about political topics: mom or dad?” The guys proudly say “dad.” The women begrudgingly say “dad.”
“But isn’t that true of men and women in general?” says Aliya Hasan, a mom of two and part-time physician in Colorado. “Men are like ‘I know everything,’ and women are more ‘Well, I sort of know…”
“The key word I got out of that statement was men ‘claimed’ to be more knowledgeable,” responds dad of two and military veteran Jesse Snider. Then Kelly Vincent, a father of four daughters (!) from Lenexa, Kansas chimes in: “Well, if you all just stopped watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey all the time.” The room erupts into laughter.” Kelly quickly puts his hands up. “Just kidding, just kidding.”
“It’s so entertaining though!” Aliya says with a wide grin. Katherine Alvarez, a social worker and mother of a special needs child currently living in Las Vegas, adds her own tag: “If only they put news information on that show.”
Here’s one topic where Mom and Dad were on the same page. When asked which political topics do you and your partner disagree about, the most popular choice for both men and women was same sex marriage. It causes more agita than war, health care, and the economy.