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WHAT SHOULD YOUR SPOUSE & KIDS BE DOING: THE ROLE OF FAMILY ON CAMPAIGNS

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Many candidates struggle with what role their spouse and children should play on the campaign. The answer is very simple: a flattering one. If they are not going to help or make you look good, don't use them on the campaign.

ROLE OF A SPOUSE

After yourself, your significant other is the next best person to speak about how great you are. There will be times when you send them to speak on your behalf, but mostly their role is as a prop. It’s important to discuss with them how active they are willing to be on the campaign. Just as an articulate spouse can help your cause, an unwilling one being forced to speak can make you look really bad. Your significant other needs to know that they’re being a part-actor, not themselves. The image they portray is very important. At the same time they are not political strategists and often have no idea about politics. However, this is the individual who the candidate is most likely to listen to, so a clear mechanism has to be set up so they are not changing plans outside of meetings. Your spouse should be allowed to sit in on a weekly strategy meeting and contribute, but they cannot be going behind the campaign’s back to override or change things they don’t like. A campaign WILL fall apart if the core team has a long meeting, makes an important decision only to find out the next day the candidate’s spouse has scrapped the whole plan.

ROLE OF CHILDREN

Ideally, your children are props to show what wonderful person and parent you are. At key events you can bring them out in front of the crowd, use them in pictures and ads, etc. But also know when to leave the kids at home or get a babysitter. From 12-18 they usually stop being adorable and don’t follow directions very well. A well-spoken, well-behaved, neatly dressed kid can make you look good, but one outburst or inappropriate action can destroy a whole night’s efforts. Make sure if you are using your kids as a prop that you explain to them the game that you are playing and what their job is. Some candidates don’t want to expose their children to the ugliness of a campaign, and you can keep your kids sheltered from the day to day campaign, but you also will presumably want to spend time with them. As a candidate your schedule can be very hectic leaving you with minimal time for your family. A way around this is by holding family-friendly fundraising events like ice cream socials. These can be a great way to show your kids what you’re doing without using them as props. If you don’t want to expose your kids by mentioning their names in the official bio, make sure you don’t mention your pets by name either.