At White House, Youth Will Be Served

Obamas must shelter girls from negatives, capitalize on positives on time in spotlight
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2008 4:42 AM CST
Barack Obama strolls down Kailua Beach in Kailua, Hawaii, with his daughters Malia, 10, left, and Sasha, 7, during their summer vacation in Hawaii.   (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
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(Newser) – Malia and Sasha Obama will be the youngest residents of the White House since 1977, and it will be a major responsibility for their parents to keep the spotlight from burning them, experts tell Newsday's parenting columnist. Today's 24/7 news cycle and the Obamas' status as the nation's first black first family have already intensified international fascination. "This is good and bad for children," said one educator.

Parents must pay attention to the girls' "internal development," warns the author of a book on American first families. He recommends inviting the girls' maternal grandmother to move in to the White House—and taking advantage of the open space and privacy of Camp David. White House life does have its upsides. "It'll be a delight," said one historian. "There's a pool, there's tennis courts, there's a big lawn."