Originally posted Dec. 16, 2008
Why not? We could do a whole lot worse. As far as I can tell the Obama's are a loving, concerned couple who are well tuned-in to their kids. They are openly affectionate with their girls, who appear well-adjusted and easy-going.
The most striking thing about this family is just how 'normal' they seem. They lack the pretense one might expect from a 'first family,' which makes them feel very familiar and relatable to the rest of us parents. We appreciate that we've got folks headed to the White House who 'get' that we're all in this parenting boat together, that we cannot succeed in our number one jobs unless other parents do their part, too.
We've heard and read that Obama wants us all to step up and be the best parents we can be (I can already picture the 'Uncle Sam'-esque poster featuring Barack Obama pointing his finger in that "I NEED YOU" way). Why is this important? To put it simply, how you parent your kid may affect my kid someday, either directly or indirectly. A simple example? Say our kids meet up as adults and decide to parent together. Your child will bring his experience of family life into his work as a parent, and the impact will be felt by my child and their children. More immediately, the mood and frame of mind that your child walks in to school with each day, should they be schoolmates, can impact my kid's day, too. Obama's right-on to assert that parenting matters to us all. It'll be interesting to see how he and Michelle continue to parent under the growing pressure and curiosity that will, no doubt, follow them to Pennsylvania Avenue. Not that we'll ever really know, though, as no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.
My advice to parents? Don't judge yourselves too harshly against the beautiful pictures we see of the Obama clan. Their kids probably have meltdowns too, and, I'll wager, so do they.
The Chicago Tribune recently explored American parents' fascination with the Obama's as parents (and even quoted li'l ol' me ...):
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.