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January 17, 2009

As long as she's not "that" Obama girl

Obama This week President-elect Barack Obama published a letter to his daughters explaining why he embarked on a road to the White House.

"These are the things I want for you -- to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world," he wrote in an open letter published in Parade magazine.

You know what? As the mother of a 2-year-old daughter, I want that, too. Not only that, I also want to be the kind of parent who says those words to my child. And as I'm reminded of Obama's slogan of "Hope," I'm also wondering something else: Are we as mothers not also looking to his girls to extend that same hope to our own daughters?

I'll be honest. Raising my daughter in a high-profile city where looks are big and boobs even bigger, I want her to have an alternative to oversexed girl-women who invite the most cameras. I want her to see that girls can be just that -- girls. And that's what I see with the Obama girls. Forget skin color (yes, I know this is a historical moment, but hear me out), I just want my daughter to see that they have support from their parents, that they go to school, that they also have backpacks.

Of course they're young -- Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 -- and being role models at their age may seem a bit inconceivable. But as they go through these four or eight years, all American eyes will be on them as they grow into their tween and teen years. Heck, they already are. So will our girls be looking to these young presidential daughters and wanting to be like them in the same way they have also looked to, God help us, Britney and Lindsay? Are we so focused on newspaper stories covering which D.C.-area school the Obama girls will attend because we're desperate for our own daughters to have an alternative to tabloid-friendly "pop tarts"?

Our girls will grow up in the same America as Malia and Sasha Obama, of course without the Secret Service and media spotlight. But in a way, ours are in the spotlight, albeit a smaller one. The family spotlight. The daycare spotlight. The homeroom spotlight.

Let's hope they'll shine.

This is an original LA Moms Blog post.

Laura Clark also writes at her blog, L.A. Story, where she and her toddler daughter explore Los Angeles one baby step at a time.

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