The Obamas were pretty successful through the presidential campaign keeping one kind of criticism at bay– whether Michelle was home enough as a mom and who was caring for the kids. The few times that Sasha and Malia Obama were permitted to be on the public stage, they presented like lovely, well-adjusted little girls.
But criticizing and carping on all sorts of things is a sport here in the nation’s capital, so can increased critique of how the Obamas — particularly the new “First Mom” Michelle — parent their children be too far off? If the fashion police are already out there (though she seems to be doing OK with Tim Gunn!), you know the parenting critics can’t be far behind.
One smart move in Michelle’s part is having her mom come live at the White House with them to help give the girls some stability and familiarity. But the critiques and unsolicited opinions on many things have already begun, including the question of where Malia and Sasha will attend school.
Since they already go to a private school in Chicago, and given the state of Washington, D.C. schools and the amount of security that will be required wherever the new first daughters attend school, there’s a short list of prestigious schools circulating — Sidwell Friends (where Chelsea Clinton went to school), Maret, Georgetown Day School and National Cathedral School, to name just a few.
Many parents like to offer unsolicited parenting advice to regular folks, so I hope Michelle is bracing herself for the onslaught that is bound to come. Though some people offer helpful and well-meaning advice, others will always find fault because of differing parenting philosophies. Heck, Larry King spent a half hour talking about it last night on this show (sorry, I can’t find a link for it yet).
Ultimately, “Radiance” and “Rosebud” (their Secret Service names) are going to become aware that their names will be in the news a lot and that they’ll be considered fair game at the inersection of pop culture and political news. I hope their parents are preparing them, as much as you can ready a seven-year-old and a 10-year old, for what’s about to happen to them.
I know one eight-year-old who wouldn’t be too happy about having every little aspect of her life scrutinized. And I sure wouldn’t want to be the one in the spotlight whose every parenting decision was sure to be featured in the New York Times, People Magazine and the blogosphere.