Rules the presidential kids have to follow

Being the son or daughter of the President of the United States can’t exactly be an easy role to take on — and yet the children in the first families have no other option. Having a parent who is the head of the most powerful country in the world comes with its own benefits, sure, but it also comes with a lot of pressure and public scrutiny. It has to be especially tough for the kids, who are forced to grow up in the spotlight. Think about all of the scathing comments that have been said about Sasha and Malia Obama, and Barron Trump. 

Presidential children also have to follow a strict set of rules and guidelines that affect everything from how they act in public, to where they go to school, to their daily life at home. Some of these rules can, and have, been broken by the president’s children, but that decision can come with a lot of backlash. Below are some of the rules the president’s children are expected to follow. 

They can't open the windows at the White House

Living in the White House might sound glamorous and interesting, but in reality, it’s basically like living in a giant museum — one that comes with many rules. One of the most restricting is that the presidential kids (and, actually, the entire family) are not allowed to open the windows anywhere in the White House, or in any car they’re in. It might not sound like a big deal, but imagine not being able to get a breath of fresh air whenever you want.

In fact, being able to open windows was one of the things Michelle Obama said she was most excited to be able to do after moving out of the White House. During an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Michelle said, “I really can’t open a window. If I press it in the car, everybody’s like, ‘Oh my god! What was that?'” And during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the former First Lady said that Sasha had once opened her window in the house, saying, “There were calls. ‘Shut the window!’ It never opened again.” 

The kids aren't supposed to take on official roles in the administration

There are many controversies surrounding the Trump presidency, but one of the biggest has always been the roles his adult children have taken on in his administration. President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, was given the role of special advisor to the president, where she takes on many unspecified tasks, but is said to have an influential position. Her husband, Jared Kushner, was given the role of the White House Innovations Director shortly after the president went into office. 

The reason this is an issue for many is because there is a general rule that presidential family members are not supposed to work in the White House. According to Business Insider, Congress passed an anti-nepotism law in 1967, which “prohibits the president from appointing a family member to work in the office or agency they oversee.” However, Ivanka isn’t actually breaking the law, as it doesn’t prevent children (or Kushner) from serving as unpaid advisors —which is exactly how they’re classified at the White House. 

The kids are usually expected to attend private school

Since the life of a presidential child is under so much scrutiny, it’s not surprising that even their schooling is controlled. While it’s not a hard and fast rule, presidential children are generally expected to attend private schools over public schools. This isn’t just because of the idea that expensive private schools offer a better education — it also has to do with safety and security. As The Atlantic points out, a busy politician might feel more comfortable putting their kids in a “more secure and customized education environment,” especially considering the public exposure that comes with a different type of school. 

Still, it’s a rule that can be broken, and once was. In 1977, when President Jimmy Carter was in office, he made sure to enroll his 9-year-old daughter, Amy, in a public school in Washington, D.C. where, as a white girl, she was in the minority. As The Atlantic points out, Carter did this because, during his presidential campaign, he stood up against the idea that private schools are thought to be better than public schools. 

They must always be accompanied by Secret Service Agents

When your parent is the president of the United States, that means your every move is being watched, and not only by the curious public eye. Like their parents, even former presidential kids must always be accompanied by Secret Service agents… at least until they are 16-years-old. According to ABC News, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, “Congress had ended lifetime security details for former presidents, cutting off Secret Service protection 10 years after a president leaves office.” But when President Barack Obama was in office, he signed a repeal, HR. 6620, the “Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012.” 

The act didn’t just offer more protection for former presidents, but also for former First Ladies. The act also declared that agents had to protect the children of former presidents until they turned 16-years-old. After that age, they don’t have to be followed around by an agent. But if families don’t want the protection at all, they can choose to decline it. 

They should have a presidential pet

One guideline that presidential children (the entire family, actually) are expected to follow is the tradition of getting a presidential pet. The Obamas had their dog, Bo, and President George W. Bush also had a dog named Spot. Getting a pet isn’t a rule that the family has to follow, but it is a time-honored tradition that they’re expected to go along with. It began with Thomas Jefferson, who had a mockingbird and some bear cubs. 

Ed Lengel, chief historian at the White House Historical Association, told CNN that the pets “soften their image” and “broadens their appeal.” He added, “They help create an atmosphere of the White House as a family, a lived-in place and not just a stiff museum, but a place where a family lives and plays and enjoys each other’s company.” President Trump is the first president since Jefferson to break with this tradition, as he does not have a presidential pet. 

They have to participate in certain events, like the Easter egg roll

Although Congress’ anti-nepotism law means presidential kids shouldn’t have official roles in the administration, they are still expected to take part in some of the events that go on at the White House. The President and the First Lady are expected to take part in many annual events that get the Washington community involved, mainly out of tradition, and the presidential children are supposed to be there as well. 

One example is the White House Easter Egg Roll, an event that has been around since 1878, when it began under the administration of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Every February, there is a public lottery, and the winners get to to go to the event. The White House Easter Egg Roll takes place on Easter Monday each year, and consists of family activities. Some of these include the famous egg roll, live musical performances, and the act of coloring and putting together cards for American service members. In April 2018, when Melania Trump hosted the 140th Easter Egg Roll, Donald Trump Jr. and Barron Trump were also present. 

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