Can a President Put Family First?
Recent press coverage of the Obama family vacation, raises the question of whether or not a President can put family first. As parents struggle to create quality time with their children, the struggle of creating Obama family time resonates with many families across the country. It may not be possible for the President to put family first all the time, but Barak and Michelle Obama are devoted parents committed to their family life while balancing the demand of their public roles.
Family Time for the Obamas
During the years in the Senate and on the campaign trail, Obama family time was something of a rarity. Now that the Obama family works and lives in the White House, the opportunity for family breakfasts and dinners, time to check-in after school, and hugs before bed time are much more common. The Obamas have even had time to add a dog, Bo, to the family.
The Obama family has worked to create a more child-friendly environment at the White House. Touches such as the addition of a swing set and garden, to ensuring that the President takes a break to spend time with the First Lady, Michelle Obama, to ensuring that Sasha and Malia have access to their dad.
However, an Obama family outing takes on a whole new challenge with the need for security and protection. Unlike most families, the first family might not be able to pack up a picnic lunch and head right out to the National Arboretum, but they can plan sleepovers, playdates, movie nights, spend time in the vegetable garden and play with Bo on the White House lawn.
Obama family vacations can be challenging as they take on political significance. Choosing where to vacation may not require the Obama family to take into account the family budget, but they do have to consider many other factors in selecting the right location. Unlike the former Bush first family, the current first family does not necessarily have a ranch for needed retreats.
Finding time just for the parents is another challenge that is not unique to the President and First Lady. Just like many working parents, the first couple has to plan for Obama date night. Whether it is a night on the town in New York City, dinner out at Georgetown, or late night discussions in the family quarters, carving out time with an intense schedule is critical to maintaining their relationship.
The lives and challenges of the Obama family are strikingly similar to many other working families, while at the same time, worlds away from ordinary. The desire and commitment on the part of both the President and First Lady to maintain some normal family life with their children is what will keep the Obama family grounded and centered as their children grow up in an extraordinary world. Their commitment to keeping their own relationship strong will hold them in good stead as they continue to face the challenges of living in the White House.