First Lady Welcomes Children of Executive Office Staff to White House

Senior officials credit the Obamas for setting example of work-family balance

ByABC News
April 22, 2010, 3:18 PM

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2010 -- The president and the first lady both take tennis lessons, use the White House movie theater nearly every weekend and spend a lot more time together then they ever did before they moved to Washington.

That's the word from the First Lady Michelle Obama, who spent nearly an hour taking questions from 200 or so 8- to 12-year-olds in the East Room to mark the annual Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The children's parents all work in the executive branch of the government.

Michelle Obama thanked the children for the sacrifices they've had to make, because of the long hours their parents put in working for the administration.

"You guys are helping us just as much as your parents are," she said, "So thank you for being patient and making sure you're doing what you're supposed to do at home, so that your parents can do what they need to do here."

Nan Gibson, chief of staff for the Council of Economic Advisers, brought her daughter, Grace, to the White House for the day and the highlight for the 7-year old baking aficionado was observing the White House pastry chefs.

Grace couldn't explain exactly what her mom does at the White House, but said, "She works a lot."

"It's kind of hard, but it's for a good cause because she works for Obama," Grace said. "But she works too much."

Gibson echoed her daughter's sentiment that the long hours were for "a good cause" and said that it's nice to see the Obamas going through the same act of balancing the needs of young children with demanding jobs.

"I think they set a great example, frankly, by making sure they get to their parent-teacher conferences," Gibson told ABC News. "I think it's important for my daughter to see the people we work with, the settings that we work in and the reason why the hours are long and what we're doing. We're trying to make life better for families all over the country."

Denis McDonough, who brought his young daughter to work today, also credited the Obamas with setting an example for the rest of the staff.

"We have a boss here who understands that we also want to be good parents," he told ABC News.