Be a Good Role Model: Vote.

By Regan McMahon


A lot of working mothers talk about being good role models for their kids by working. Cherie Blair, a lawyer and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, is one of them.


She said as much to my San Francisco Chronicle colleague Carolyne Zinko, who interviewed her when she was in San Francisco promoting her new memoir, “Cherie Blair: Speaking for Myself – My Life from Liverpool to Downing Street.”


Blair grew up in a working-class Catholic family in Liverpool, and her parents were in an acting troupe.


“As the child of a working mom, I wanted my kids to learn that just because I wasn’t physically present all the time didn’t mean I wasn’t there for them,” she told Zinko.


In the article, which ran in the Chronicle Nov. 2, Blair describes how she continued to work even as the wife of the prime minister and the mother of four growing children. (Can you imagine if Hillary Clinton had done that during Bill Clinton’s presidency?) Her kids now range in age from 8 to 24.


Blair had a home office and, as Zinko writes, “could work on law cases until 6:25 p.m. and head down to the state room for visitors at 6:30 p.m. no worse for the wear.”


Zinko recounts a funny story of Blair’s buying a leg of lamb for dinner on the way to work at the courthouse and stuffing it in her briefcase. She forgot about it once she was in court, where, Zinko writes, “she inadvertently pulled it out, dripping with blood, while searching for a set of legal briefs.”


Says Blair: “Juggling doesn’t always work out as you think it will. Many working mothers know about that – teetering on the brink of disaster, and you just move on.”


There’s another great way to be a role model to your kids: Vote.


I thought this was a no-brainer for parents, up there with “Don’t get arrested” and “Brush your teeth.” Then one day the mother of one of my daughter’s friends told her she doesn’t vote. When my daughter reported this, I was shocked. How couldn’t she?


When my kids were toddlers, I’d bring them into the voting booth with me, not just because I didn’t have a baby sitter for a 10-minute errand, but because I wanted them to see democracy in action.


They no longer accompany me to the polling place, but they are aware of my going. They notice the “I voted” sticker I proudly wear for the rest of the day. We watch the debates together and discuss politics at the dinner table. And on election night, we watch the returns come in on TV. The kids may not stay glued to the set like we do, but they know what’s going on and how important it is. No matter what views they hold now or will as adults, at least we have imprinted a passion for exercising the right to vote. I figured that was part of my job.