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Raising kids in the political fishbowl

Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama has some strong women in his corner. In addition to the backing of Oprah Winfrey, Obama has help from his vibrant and charismatic wife, Michelle Obama, on the campaign trail.

A Washington Post profile of Michelle Obama describes the juggling act she performs, running their Illinois household and staying on top of the schoolwork and activities of their two daughters, ages 9 and 6. Mrs. Obama is a Princeton graduate and has a high-paying job as vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

When Barack Obama made his first foray into politics, an unsuccessful run for a congressional seat, his wife was not happy about how his political schedule crowded out their home life.

"I never thought I'd have to raise a family alone," Michelle Obama told him. (Everyone who's heard that one at home, please line up behind me!)

Clearly she and her husband are high achievers, but I can't help but wonder how their children are faring while their parents crisscross the country looking for votes. I'm not being judgmental of the Obamas, I'm just amazed that the children of any politicians can grow up to be relatively well adjusted after living in a public fishbowl, or being sequestered from the one their parents inhabit.

Chelsea Clinton obviously was put through some heavy personal trials during her father's White House years. Rudy Giuliani's son, Andrew, is somewhat estranged from his dad and refuses to campaign for him. Mitt Romney's five sons, on the other hand, participate in their father's run for the White House by co-writing an official campaign blog.

Kids don't typically get to vote on whether their parents will seek elective office, but if they did it would be fascinating to see how many would give their mom or dad a thumbs-up.


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