As the final preparations are made for his historic Inauguration on Tuesday, pressure is mounting for President-elect Barack Obama-- including from his own children. Speaking to the Washington Post, Obama gives an account of his family "field trip" to the Lincoln Memorial where there is an inscribed copy of the 16th President's famous Second Inaugural speech. At this point, Obama's 7 year-old daughter Sasha asked her father if he would be giving a similar speech. Obama describes the interaction to the Post:
"And I said, 'Well, actually, that's a short version, but yeah, I will,' " Obama recalled. "And then Malia says, 'First African American president -- it better be good.'
"So I just want you to know the pressures I'm under here from my children.
The family's "field trip" was a symbolic gesture to Lincoln, to whom Obama has frequently been compared. Obama's children clearly have equally or even higher expectations of their father. This sets them somewhat apart from their mother, who throughout the campaign has insisted that her husband is merely human. Ta-Nahisi Coates, in the January/February Atlantic delves into this quirk extensively, explaining why Michelle Obama was initially viewed as an "Angry Black Woman" during the campaign and why that really isn't the case at all. The article gives an enlightening account of the value the Obamas place on family. Coates quotes Michelle Obama's brother Craig Robinson:
"We had a very fortunate upbringing," says Obama's brother, Craig Robinson. "It was filled with good times. We were like every other family. We had love and discipline. We had caring parents ... It wasn't unusual at all. It wasn't that everyone had both parents in the house, but it certainly wasn't like it is now, where you find single-parent families everywhere. Folks went to work, people were excited to get good grades ... People would laugh about folks finding out you were getting in trouble. People had mothers at home. So if someone broke a window, you always found out about it. You had a secondary line of defense."
That the incoming President will have such a solid familial foundation (his mother-in-law will even be residing with them in the White House) should only bolster his performance as the leader of the free world. It is good to know that Obama's family can be both comforting and demanding.