The New First Kids.
He’s already got a big decision to make: Should he buy the golden retriever-poodle his 10-year-old daughter wants or should his family go with another breed to be the First Pet?
As Illinois Senator Barack Obama busies himself with the task of getting ready to take over as the leader of the free world, he will do so as the father of two very young daughters – Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, with whom he had a day-after-the-election breakfast before they headed off to school like millions of other kids their age across the country.
When’s the last time a regular Nickelodeon viewer – one who was concerned that her dad’s massive ad buy in the 11th hour of the presidential campaign would mess around with her SpongeBob SquarePants – and a Hannah Montana fan frolic in places where John-John and Caroline once tread? Never. The late 70s marked the last time someone under 10 resided in the White House, when 9-year-old Amy Carter moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But there was no Nickelodeon back then. And Miley Cyrus hadn’t even been born yet.
As NBC’s Brian Williams said on election night, “There will be young children in the White House for the first time since the Kennedy generation.” I thought about that and recalled the iconic photographs I’ve seen of John-John peeking out from beneath his father’s desk in the Oval Office. Of Caroline with her pony Macaroni on the White House lawn. Of Jackie Kennedy pregnant and looking glam.
And while attorney Hillary Clinton had working mom angst in 1993 when her husband was sworn in as president, she didn’t put the raising of her 12-year-old daughter Chelsea, or working parenthood in general, on the front burner as a top issue. However powerhouse career gal Michelle Obama -- the first Gen Xer working mom to live in the White House -- has said her first priority, if her husband were elected, would be to be mom-in-chief to her girls, followed by addressing the struggles of working mothers.
A new generation will assume the mantle of leadership in mid-January. A new generation of children will see themselves and their experiences reflected in those of Malia and Sasha. A new generation of Gen X mothers will see one of their own do the whole work-life balance thing while we all watch on national television. A Gen X father will attempt to be a new kind of leader and still make the parent-teacher conferences.
In a piece entitled, “A President Like My Father,” this spring Caroline Kennedy, now a working mom with three teenaged children, wrote, “. . . I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.”
This promises to be a wild ride.