The First Lady's Hopes and Fears on Raising Her Daughters

Source: The First Lady's Hopes and Fears on Raising Her Daughters

Talk about an inspiration! We were invited to the White House to discuss the first lady's Let's Move campaign. Getting families off the couch and moving has been a passion of Michelle Obama's since her husband took office, and we've seen her leading children in group exercise programs around the country.

Throughout the conversation, Mrs. Obama opened up about life in the White House, her dreams for her daughters - Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10 - and the everyday parenting struggles she faces, including her fear about "mess[ing] them up." Keep reading to see what the first lady shared with us!

  • On Support Moms Need: "I know how blessed I am, and I know how rare it is to live in an institution that can provide you with that kind of support. I believe every mother needs a personal assistant. (Laughter.) And a chef!"
  • On Having the Same Worries as Other Moms: "They're terrific girls. They're poised and they're kind and they're curious. And like any mother, I am just hoping that I don't mess them up. That's all we're living to do. It's like, at the end of the day, I find myself checking with friends if they'd spent time - how did the girls seem? People who have known them - and they'll say, no, they're the same kids. They're the same girls. I was like, OK, good. And that's why the president and I are happy. Even when times are tough, in the end you are as happy as your least happy child. And when I'm not breathing, it has little to do with the issues - that's important, but when your kids are healthy, your dog is healthy, you find that you sleep a little bit better."
  • On Moms Supporting Each Other: "We have to make it work and make it work for each other. I still rely on my girlfriends a lot, too. I find that other mom who can take the girls for a weekend if I'm going to be away. I find that there are mothers here who can tell when I have a busy schedule and they'll just sort of call up and see if the girls want to come over. And trying to return that favor, too, because I don't want to be that mother that's always got her kids over there."
  • On Limiting Screen Time: "It's bad. And Barack is the worst, but they'll call you out on it. It's like, 'We're having dinner, put that down.' But we have clear rules. We have clear rules about screen time and TV time. None during the week if it doesn't involve schoolwork. And now, more and more, Malia, who is in eighth grade, everything is on the computer. So we've had this conversation - I've got to trust that when you're on the computer that you're actually having conversation about school and not talking to Taylor about God knows what. And sometimes I have to come through the room. It takes a couple of times to be like, that didn't sound like math to me. So if she knows that at any point I'm going to walk into her room, which I do, that it keeps her honest. But she's a good kid. She doesn't try to break the rules. We'll see about Sasha. She's coming up."

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  • On Keeping the Girls Grounded at the White House: "Well, the first thing is, is establishing rules among the staff that they're not little princesses. There are rules and expectations, and how they treat the adults in their world - I mean, that to me is first and foremost. That's why we set up - we have butlers and maids and things like that, and it's like, you don't touch the girls' rooms because they have to make their beds, they have to clean up their rooms, they have to - Sasha has started doing the laundry. They have chores to do, and they don't get their allowance until they can prove that they've done their chores for the week."
  • On Motivating Moms to Influence Change: "It's that getting up every day doing just what they're doing - focusing on family, focusing on self, focusing on the things that we do have control over - our kids' schools, our workplace, the other parents in our community. There are hundreds of wonderfully small changes that we can make in our lives if we're all doing that. That becomes the collage of real change. When you feel like - oh, I haven't changed the environment - just take a bath. Eat a piece of chocolate. You need one."

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  • On Maintaining Family Normalcy: "What's true for you all in your homes is the same for us. It's really the interaction that we have as a family that makes it feel like home. It's sitting down at the dinner table and having Barack's day be really the last thing anyone really cares about. So he's sort of the throw-on piece; it's like, 'Oh yeah, Daddy, and what did you do today?' It's still their space. It's still their world."
  • On Making the White House Feel Like Home: "They made decisions about their bedspreads and the pillows . . . what art they'd like, and they got to be a part of picking out the space that they live in. Making the rooms in the residence really kid-friendly, so when we got new stuff, it's like - I said that - one of the rooms where the kids have their sleepovers, I said the couches need to be sleepover-friendly, which means cushions on the floor, they're jumping up and down, it's a place where all the girls are going to hang out."
  • On Handling the Halloween Sugar High: "Well, our philosophy is if you live right every day - and I shouldn't say 'right,' but if you make good choices every day - I tell this to my girls all the time - that when it's time for the holidays and the fun stuff and the birthday party, that you don't have to worry about it because you're doing what you're supposed to do every single day. So we really talk about daily choices that they're making, and balance. Right? Because I don't want them to have to worry about how much candy they eat on Halloween. But what we do do is we get that bag of candy - I let them hang out with that bag for maybe a day or two, and then I confiscate it. Because it's like, you just don't need to have this in your room; it's not good. The temptation is too great."
  • On Getting the Family to Exercise: "With the girls, we find that it's more important that it's fun, and it's more about sports and teamwork. Because exercising for exercising sake doesn't always work with kids, even though they do that, too. We'll have them go to the gym, set up a challenge, but that would be last. Kids are not motivated, and my kids are not motivated to be individuals in a gym. But they take swimming. They take tennis. They're on their teams now - middle-school sports. So, for example, the girls have always taken tennis, and they're not great at tennis. But just this year, it clicked for Malia, where she was getting taller; physically, she could handle the racket. All of a sudden, she loves tennis. So it's getting them to the point where they see it for themselves."


Related Content:
Michelle Obama Gives Her Daughters Wise Dating Advice
Michelle Obama's Ideal Role Models for Sasha and Malia are "Real People"
What Kate Gosselin Can Teach Us About Raising a Large Family


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