Barack Obama, the new President of the U.S. and the first African American U.S. president, has caught the imagination of the whole world. Politics apart, he sure has crossed all boundaries in winning people’s hearts all over the world and has of course become an admired household name in Indian families. Some typical labels and phrases that bring to our mind as we think about him - master orator, global and multicultural exposure, balance of substance and style, boundless charm, change and so on.
He has also leapt from the TV screen and drawing room conversations and coloured our children’s imaginations. There is even the Obama haircut competing with the Aamir Khan Ghajini haircut.
Why not tap into this Obama phenomenon and use some of his qualities and experiences to inspire our kids and broaden their horizons? What to tell your children about him and how make it fun and interesting for them? Some ideas below.
Show them the speeches
Obama is a powerful speaker. Show your child some of his speeches on the net or whenever they come in news on TV. They are available on YouTube on the Internet.
For example, his famous “Yes we can” speech. Click on the Play button in the middle of the picture below, to see it.
This can be a powerful and fun lesson in speech and elocution. How to grip, move and inspire with words - the tone, the inflection, the expressions, voice, words, the eye contact and rapport with the audience, humour and the silences. And how speeches can thrill and mesmerise the crowds. You will be surprised how this audio-visual experience will rub off on them and the way they talk and recite their poem or their speech.
Tell them about his multicultural upbringing and values
- Tell your children about his life as a child. He was born in Hawaii, brought up in part in Indonesia, can even speak some Indonesian, mother is from Kansas and grandparents from Hawaii, Father from Kenya - what global experiences and roots! These can be lessons in multiculturalism and global harmony for your little ones.
- Point out these places on the globe.
“Yes we can!” – against all odds
Relate how despite all odds (race, poverty, single mother etc.), he became the president because of his will, hard work and ability. Pepper your anecdotes and share his catchy slogan “Yes we can” with your children. It will surely illustrate the values of hard work and determination to them and inspire them to put in their best in a real and fun manner.
Describe some life instances
- Kids love stories and details. Make it real for them. Read up about his life, on Wikipedia.
- Relate that as a young boy he said that he wanted to be the president of the United States. That he had purpose and ambition right from the start.
- Do not leave out things or sugar coat facts if the kids are inquisitive. Tell them about how because of whatever unfortunate events, his parents had to separate. But that he was still in touch with his father and even though his mother had to leave to work in Indonesia and that he was brought up by his loving grandparents.
- You can talk to the older kids about how he shunned lucrative law careers in favour of academia and civic and community law firms in his pre-politics days.
Talk about Obama as a person
- Make it real for them.
- For example, his daughters Malia (10) and Sasha (8) and how they go to a school just like they do. Talk about how they have a doting grandmother who takes care of them.
- Mention some things that Obama likes to do. For example, he likes to watch and play basketball.
- You can even talk about his leadership and personality traits to your older kids. Example - Being balanced and in control despite the swaying charm and taking input from people around him in making decisions.
Share the letter he wrote to his daughters
- Obama wrote a letter to his daughters on the eve of his inauguration. It has been doing the rounds on the Internet in recent weeks. It is a cute and inspiring read for your little ones.
- It starts off by apologizing to them about how he could not spend much time with them in his hectic campaigning and talks about even the puppy he will give them to make up. Kids surely would find this very cute as well. And it talks about why he took his family on this adventure of running for president and being the president and what he wants for his children and the children of the world.
Obama is an example. You can do this with other public figures that fire your child's imagination--shooting champ Bindra, Dhoni, composer Rehman, Aamir Khan. And see how you tap into the great and famous ones to inspire your little ones.