Sasha, Malia, and Embarrassing Dads

Dear Sasha and Malia Obama,

My dad has a terrible sense of humor. He will talk to anyone and everyone, at all times of the day. He turns a two-item grocery list into a ninety-minute social event. I rolled my eyes and felt embarrassed many times during my childhood.

Fortunately, my dad was a hard-working man well known in his community but unknown anywhere else. I didn’t have to appear on international television when he interviewed for a job, and my wardrobe choices weren’t a matter of national concern. When I had rough times as a teenager, as nearly all teenagers do, I could grow up in the anonymity of Everywhere USA.

I’m sorry you haven’t been given this same opportunity. Sure, growing up in the White House has its perks. You won’t want for nice clothes, good schools, neat gadgets, or material comforts. Typically, I say that most of us need to practice gratitude for our blessings.

You, however, have unfairly been thrust into the public spotlight due to an “adult” (I use this word loosely) who made you the target of an unconscionable attack. I won’t repeat the charges or names; there’s no reason to give publicity to the mean-spirited.

I’d like to apologize on behalf of “adults” everywhere who feel entitled to take out their bitterness, jealousy, and sanctimonious judgement on you. I’d also like to thank you for keeping your teenage angst and rebellion out of the limelight. I’m sure you argue with your parents and talk back to them (I’d be worried if you didn’t), but you have not shamed the nation with drunken brawls or drug scandals.

It’s tough to grow up in the spotlight. (Just ask Chelsea Clinton.) It’s hard for pastors’ kids, teachers’ kids, and politicians’ kids. If I may give you one piece of advice, it would be this:

Mean kids won’t go away.

The mean girls and boys at your school will grow up (at least some of them) into mean adults who say and do nasty things. They might become abusers, criminals, or seemingly sainted ordinary people who carry out their nastiness through perfectly legitimate means.

One of my favorite television characters, Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife (I know, I’m dating myself with an “old” show), said that being forced into the negative spotlight inoculated her to nasty personal attacks. She also said that when the opposition has to resort to personal attacks, it has nothing of substance.

I hope you will use this nastiness to learn compassion for those who are bullied by others, children and adults alike. When someone at school says something unkind about someone else, I hope you’ll speak up or at least give a disapproving glare. When you grow into smart, capable women, I hope you will remember how it felt to be teenagers and shamed by a nasty woman with a computer…and reach out to the next generation.

You deserve better, Sasha and Malia. So do kids everywhere. I hope you will help to create a better world.

With all of my respect,

Anastasia Vitsky



9 thoughts on “Sasha, Malia, and Embarrassing Dads

  1. sassytwatter says:

    Beautiful and touching letter to the Obama Girls. Loved the tidbit about yiur dad. A little worried yiu said you dated yiurself w the character from Good Wife prebaby I watched that show….are you trying to call me old ;)!


  2. Julie says:

    Unfortunately you’re right, Ana – the mean kids won’t go away. Fortunately some of them are easily recognizable. Others, however, are hiding in plain sight, using convenient shields like politics or religion. It’s up to each of us to call them out when we can – thanks for using your forum to do that.


  3. Renee says:

    Absolutely loved your post. I read it right after going on a rant about this situation. You are so right about the mean kids growing up to be mean adults. And so many times the “adults” answer is to mean kids is “kids will be kids and that they will outgrow it”… they don’t. Thanks for caring. Blessings. R


  4. Laura says:

    Well said, Ana. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your insanely busy schedule and letting everyone know that those “low-life adults” are not the norm.


  5. Roz Harrison says:

    This is so wonderful of you Ana, and well said. Great advice for us all! Sadky, the bullies won’t go away. The trick is recognising them. I too enjoyed reading about your dad.



  6. Michelle says:

    Well said. They seem to be lovely young ladies, and did not deserve to be scrutinized and ridiculed for having normal teenage girls’ reactions.

    Your dad sounded like a trip!


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