Challenges Facing the First Family

Michelle Obama was born and brought up in Chicago, sometimes called the nation’s Second City. Now, following the inauguration of her husband as the 44th president of the United States, she is part of the nation’s First Family. How will she handle the problems and expectations that are placed on the residents of the White House, even those not working in the Oval Office? Raising daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, will take up much of her time, but the First Lady will confront her own political challenges.

Michelle Robinson grew up in Chicago’s South Shore community. She worked hard in school and then attended Princeton University to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1985. In 1988 she graduated from Harvard Law School and returned to Chicago to be a lawyer.

Working as an intellectual property attorney Michelle also served in Chicago area service organizations. One summer she mentored a legal associate, named Barack Obama, who was interning at the firm during his Harvard education. Michelle and Barack both wanted to help Chicago’s poor urban residents. Michelle left her law firm to become a commissioner of planning and development in Chicago. She helped run the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, a group that trains young people for public service. For the last 12 years, she has worked for the University of Chicago. As an associate dean of student services, Michelle created a university-sponsored community service program.

First Lady Obama can support any social projects she wants to, but she is also the mother of two young girls and faces unique parenting challenges. Raising children in the glare of global press coverage is difficult. Other First Ladies have assigned household chores to the First Children, even though the White House has a large staff to maintain. Malia and Sasha might accept the chores more readily when they realize that they can spend their free time in the White House’s swimming pool, movie theater, or single-lane bowling alley.

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