Raising children in any atmosphere is no easy feat. Living in the White House and facing global pressure only increased the challenges, Michelle Obama confirms. The former First Lady opened up about raising daughters Malia, 22 and Sasha, 19 in the spotlight for the season finale of The Michelle Obama Podcast. During the episode, Obama spoke with her mother, Marian Robinson, and older brother, Craig, about what parenting lessons they learned while growing up in Chicago.
Any guidance grasped was naturally modified when the Obama family moved into the White House in 2009.
‘One of the things that I had to learn how to negotiate was creating these boundaries with my kids in the White House,’ Michelle remembered. ‘I mean, you talk about being raised in a totally different world than I ever knew? It’s like, pluckin’ these little girls out of our normal life on the South Side of Chicago with Craig, and mom, and our way of doing things, and our community, and then, putting them in a historic mansion with butlers and maids, and florists, and gardeners, and Secret service, and then trying to make sure that they understood boundaries, understood responsibility.’
Ensuring that Malia and Sasha led a semi-typical adolescence often required string-pulling from Marian, who lived with the family in the White House. ‘You had to basically upend the system of the White House to get them to make sure these girls had some semblance of normalcy, right?’ Obama said, revealing she’d often sneak her granddaughters ‘a little extra candy’.
Obama also recalled maintaining balance in Barack’s schedule, so that their daughters could appreciate their time at the White House, not begrudge it. “I always tried to make sure that I wasn’t pouting in front of the kids when Barack wasn’t there,” she explained, adding, ‘If I had made a big deal out of it and said, “Oh my god, your dad’s not here again! Oh, he’s missing this” or “I just wish…” then that’s the signal to them, “Well this isn’t normal”.’ She continued, ‘Even as Barack being the president of the United States, he worked his schedule around their schedule. They weren’t waiting until 9 o’clock at night to eat because dad was running late. They never couldn’t not go somewhere or do something because of dad. I never wanted them to resent the presidency, or resent what their dad did.’
One milestone almost every family has to endure—dropping their child off at college. Obama reflected on the trip she and Barack took to Harvard for Malia’s freshman year. ‘Barack and I have two different ways of dealing with that anxiety. I just had a list of things to do. I was unpacking the room, we’re making the bed, we’re cleaning, we’re getting the