The Art of Parenting: Obama Style

Presidential parenting, how the Obamas, particularly Michelle, set a conservative agenda.

Whatever you may think of Barack Obama’s politics, Michelle’s child-rearing style is decidedly conservative without a shred of the touchy-feely, go-with-the-flow stereotype of liberal parenting.

In a New York Times story last fall, Jodi Kantor, noted Obamologist, wrote that ‘Some staff members joke that they wish they could send their own children to Mrs. Obama’s boot camp for training.’

Kantor reports on a few of Michelle’s household rules for Malia 14, and Sasha 12:

  • Technology: TV’s and computers are for homework only on school nights. Cell phones are only to be used on weekends.
  • Sports: The girls have to take up two sports. They choose one and Michelle chooses the other, saying. “I want them to understand what it feels like to do something you don’t like and to improve.”
  • Laundry: Malia has to learn to do her own before going to college.
  • Trips: The girls have to write reports even if school doesn’t require it.
  • Vegetables: The girls have to eat them or they get no chips or cookies. Says Michelle, “If you’re full, you’re full.”

Delayed gratification is at the core of these rules—vegetables before cookies, homework before social media and entertainment. Whether the Obama children are internalizing the ability to delay gratification, in other words developing self control, we won’t know for years to come when we all see if they become upstanding citizens or dissolute post-Presidential party girls.

What we do know is that regardless of how they were brought up, every one of the superachievers we interviewed for our book were masters of self-control. They looked beyond momentary hardships toward their futures. And this ability to delay gratification enabled them to push through and eventually turn their dreams into realities.

With that in mind, it seems as if Malia and Sasha are off to a good start.

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