Thursday, November 13, 2008

Parenting Sasha and Malia

One area I have a great deal of empathy for President-elect Obama and his wife, Michelle is with their two daughters, Sasha and Malia. Parenting isn't an easy task for anyone, but the job is made infinitely more difficult when everyone wants to know everything about you. What school will the girls attend and what puppy will take up residence with them in the White House seem to be the two topics most chatted about recently, but in the 24/7 age of the internet will it end there?

Children residing in the White House is not unique, Chelsea Clinton and Amy Carter were also young girls when their dad entered the White House. But John Podhertz explains why maintaining the Obama girls privacy is likely to be more difficult this time around.
"Malia and Sasha Obama are part of the new world of childhood, a vastly more public world, with scores of television shows directed toward their age group, consumer goods specifically targeted at them, and the celebrity journalism sector completely without shame in exploiting performing children to keep itself in business. The question may not be what the adult Obamas will want, but what the junior Obamas will want. What if they decide, over the coming years, that they hunger for the company of Hannah Montana, that they would be thrilled to be on the cover of People?

More disturbing, perhaps: What if their school classmates decide to post cellphone videos of them on YouTube? What if rumors about their conduct hit shameless, willing-to-say-or-publish-anything sites like Gawker? One heard things, almost certainly invented, about the Clintons and their relationship with Chelsea from Washington people who claimed to know the truth because their kids went to school with Chelsea. But that was before the Internet really exploded.

Protecting Sasha and Malia from the mainstream media will be easy for the Obamas, because the mainstream media will go along. Protecting them from the world beyond it will be harder. And protecting them from the desires they may themselves feel when they know they can have or be anything they wish to be might be the hardest job of all."

For the girls, sake I hope that people leave them alone. But if not, I suppose the Obamas can always homeschool!

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