“Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion," he said. "You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad." As for how Sasha and Malia were able to weather their father's eight years in the White House so well, the former first lady recently opened up about it in conversation with poet and friend Elizabeth Alexander at the Obama Foundation summit in Chicago.
She says that she was able to raise "independent, well-meaning, kind, compassionate people" largely because she taught them those traits from a young age, while giving them the space to learn life's hard lessons without being too overprotective. "Sometimes we treat our children too preciously because of the issues they’ve dealt with," she said, according to InStyle. "Barack and I, we thought about with Malia and Sasha, OK, we could’ve spent eight years feeling sorry for them that they were living in a bubble that every misstep for them would be on YouTube, that their privacy, they didn’t have access to their father in a way…We could’ve felt bad for them, and there would’ve been a truth there. But our view was this is their life, and we can’t apologize for the life they have because a whole lot of it is good.”
That's certainly true. As of this moment, 19-year-old Malia Obama is currently attending Harvard University as a freshman. Meanwhile Sasha Obama is finishing high school at Sidwell Friends School, where Chelsea Clinton attended as a first daughter, as the former president revealed to People last year. When talking about how she raised such well-adjusted daughters, Michelle Obama added of her approach, “I can’t cherish you to death. We have to raise our children to be the adults that we want them to be, and that starts young. You can’t be so afraid that life will break them that you don’t prepare them for life. Sometimes our fear keeps us from pushing our kids out into the cold cruel world. And then they’re not ready and we wonder why.”
Parenting also has much to do with why so many men grow up to abuse their privilege, as Obama explained. “The problem in the world today is that we love our boys and we raise our girls," she said, according to Vanity Fair. "We raise them strong and sometimes we take care not to hurt men. And I think we pay for that a little bit and that’s a we thing because we are raising them, and it’s powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean? Does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much, so they feel a little entitled? And a little, you know, a little self-righteous sometimes, but that’s kind of on us, too as women and mothers as we nurture men and push girls to be perfect.”
Another gender difference she sees is that women often find more support and self-reflection in their friendships than men, according to Obama. “Women, we do it better than men,” she said. “I’m, you know, sad for you guys. Y’all should get you some friends. Get you some friends and talk to each other, ‘cause that’s the other thing we do; we straighten each other out on some things, our girlfriends...Sometimes I’m like, ‘Barack, who you talking to? And it can’t just be Marty [Nesbitt].’ Ya’ll need to go talk to each other about your stuff because there’s so much of it. It’s so messy.”
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