Barack Obama does not give birthday presents to children
Senator Barack Obama's Republican critics accuse of him of profligate public spending plans, but at home the Democratic presidential candidate adopts a frugal policy with his two young daughters.
By Alex Spillius in Washington Last Updated: 6:57PM BST 25 Jul 2008
In a magazine interview Obama and his wife Michelle revealed that one of their steadfast house rules is not giving Christmas or birthday presents to Malia, 10, and Sasha, seven.
The couple explained that they spend "hundreds" on birthday slumber parties and want to "teach some limits". Santa Claus is still permitted to deliver seasonal gifts however.
The girls are also given an allowance of just $1 (50p) a week for performing household chores, according to People magazine. Those chores include making their own bed, setting and clearing the dinner table and putting themselves to bed by 8.30pm.
On the campaign trail, Mr Obama has often spoken of the need for Americans to be "better parents" who aren't afraid to "turn off the TV".
He has also exhorted black males to be more responsible fathers.
Though he has been away "98 per cent of the time", Mr Obama told People that before the campaign he did "the house and car repairs, the grocery shopping" and "sometimes the laundry".
His two daughters keep up the sort of busy schedule that any over-reaching parent would recognize: football, dance and drama for the eldest and gymnastics and tap dancing for the youngest, with daily piano practice for both.
If Mr Obama issues clear rules at home, his speech in Berlin on Thursday before 200,000 adoring Germans has come in for criticism for its vagueness. The website of the National Review magazine ran a quiz asking readers to compare sentences from the candidate's address on global unity to the lyrics of We Are The World, the 1985 song that raised money for the Ethiopian famine.
Two examples were: "The world will watch and remember what we do" and, "But if you just believe there's no way we can fall." The first is from Obama, the second from the song, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.