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Fri Dec 19 09:14:11 SAST 2014

'Date my girls? You will face Secret Service first'

Nick Allenin Columbus, Ohio | 09 November, 2012 00:07
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha, left, and Malia walk to Air Force One.
Image by: JASON REED / REUTERS

President Barack Obama said his daughters will be allowed to date during his second term - but any prospective teenage boyfriends will have to deal with the Secret Service.

The US president has long maintained a commitment to allowing Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, to grow up as normally as possible, and pledged that over the next four years they would also have a special area in the White House for sleepovers with school friends.

By the time their father leaves office, the Obama girls will be 18 and 15.

They will have spent most of their school years living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and Malia will be at the age of proms and university applications.

They have so far been carefully shielded from the glare of publicity by their parents.

The public has seen them only in choreographed glimpses, including on their first day at school in Washington, watching the Super Bowl, and when the president coached Sasha's basketball team. As he celebrated his 2012 election win, they appeared on stage with him in Chicago looking poised, and much taller than four years ago.

In his 2008 victory speech, Obama made his daughters a promise that led to the arrival of the family's dog, Bo.

This time he told them: "Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you're growing up to be two strong, smart, beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I'm so proud of you guys. But I will say, for now, one dog's probably enough."

In an interview on election day, Obama was asked by US radio host Ryan Seacrest whether the girls would be allowed to date boys during his second term.

The president said: "I think any young man who has the guts to get through Secret Service deserves a hearing."

He added: "All they (Malia and Sasha) want to do is be treated like anybody else. I embarrass them all the time. Michelle is very good about making sure that we're creating a space for them where they can have sleepovers.

"They can go to the mall. They can go to the movies. They're going to homecomings at their school."

The president has promised Malia that she will be able to learn to drive, rather than being ferried around by the Secret Service.

However, unlike the majority of their contemporaries, the Obama girls will not be on Facebook.

Michelle Obama told ABC News last month that she has had serious conversations with them about the perils of the internet and social media, and has told her children they have a "little extra burden" to carry in how they behave.

She told them: "You can't go off on somebody, you can't act bratty. You may be having a moment, but somebody could use that moment and try to define you forever. So you want to be cognisant of that. So there you go, Malia. There's your hardship. You're not going to have Facebook for a long time." - ©The Daily Telegraph

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