‘They didn’t choose that life’: Michelle Obama admits she feels ‘guilty’ that Malia and Sasha had to ‘stumble and fail’ so publicly – as she praises them for the ‘maturity and resilience’ they gained in the White House
- The 54-year-old first lady spoke to Jenna Bush Hager on the Today show
- She said that she wanted her daughters Malia, 20, and Sasha, 17, to grow up normally
- Added that it wasn’t fair that they couldn’t stumble or experience good things privately
- She also spoke to People, noting that her daughters couldn’t even smoke a cigarette or have a boyfriend privately
- But, she said, they developed a ‘level of maturity and resilience that not even Barack or I had to have’
Michelle Obama continued her book tour on Wednesday with an appearance on the Today show, in which she spoke candidly with Jenna Bush Hager about what her daughters went through during their time in the White House.
The 54-year-old admitted that it was difficult to see her girls, 20-year-old Malia and 17-year-old Sasha, have to live their lives in the public eye, despite not asking for that attention.
‘You want your kids to grow up normal,’ she said. ‘You want them to be able to have the wonderful experiences privately. And you want them to be able to fail and stumble privately. Like any other kids.’
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Challenge: Michelle Obama discussed in new interviews this week that it was difficult to watch her daughters grown up in the public eye
Babies! Sasha, now 17, and Malia, now 20, weren’t even teenagers yet when their father became president
Opening up: Michelle discussed look on as a mother in an interview with Jenna Bush Hager
Mrs. Obama shared the one-on-one with Jenna, who asked her about raising two girls in the White House — an experience Jenna and her sister Barbara have a unique understanding of.
‘You know, it’s an odd thing for the world to see you transition from a child to a young woman. And so they’ve grown up. And they’ve had their stumbles, and they’ve had their triumphs,’ the former first lady said.
‘I will remember that time fondly as well. You guys [Jenna and Barbara] took that time and flew in, and gave them the kids’ tour of the White House. You made them feel excited about this strange and scary thing that was about to happen to them.
When Jenna told her that one of the hardest thing for her own mother was to hear Jenna and Barbara criticized — she said it ‘crushed her’ — Michelle agreed that that was especially tough.
Like any mother, she wanted her kids to be able to grow up privately and experience any failures or hiccups behind closed doors.
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‘You know, it’s an odd thing for the world to see you transition from a child to a young woman. And so they’ve grown up,’ she said
Private: Michelle talked about Malia being unable to date privately (pictured with boyfriend Rory Farquharson
‘And when they’re not allowed to do that, it’s unfair, and you feel guilty about it. You know? Because they didn’t choose this life,’ she said.
Mrs. Obama also spoke about her daughters facing criticism — and former first daughters being there to guide them — on GMA this week
‘I am so proud of those little girls,’ she told Robin Roberts. ‘They have managed this situation with poise and grace, and they are normal and kind and smart and friendly and open.
‘Gosh, and it could’ve gone so wrong,’ she added. ‘But I will also say that they had support from a lot of the other former first kids ― Jenna and Barbara and Chelsea.
‘I love those girls. I will love them forever for what kind of support they provided to my daughters throughout that. They always had their backs.’
Michelle noted that whenever anyone would ‘go after’ her daughters in the press, Jenna would ‘say something’ and Chelsea would ‘send a tweet out.’
Tough: Jenna said that her own mom always struggled with seeing her and Barbara criticized
Guilt: ‘When they’re not allowed to [live privately], it’s unfair, and you feel guilty about it. You know? Because they didn’t choose this life,’ Mrs. Obama said
Support: She acknowledged how great Barbara and Jenna were. They’d penned a letter to Malia and Sasha as they prepared to leave the White House (left in 2004, right in September)
Hitting back: Michelle noted that whenever anyone would ‘go after’ her daughters in the press, Chelsea would ‘send a tweet out.’ (pictured left in 1995, right in October)
‘That made a big, big difference, so [Malia and Sasha] are doing well,’ Michelle said.
Even with Chelsea, Jenna, and Barbara backing them up, though, the harsh words and endless spotlight could be trying — yet Michelle thinks her daughter’s are, in some ways, better off for it.
Speaking to People in this week’s issue, she noted that her daughters have gained quite a bit from facing things that most people don’t — namely a strength and an ability to power through.
‘[They took] a level of maturity and resilience that not even Barack or I had to have,’ she said.
‘They are the most recognized teenagers in the world, trying to be out in the world like regular kids. And that’s hard when you’re a child, and every day people are watching you, and you know that.
‘There’s no time to just be… to blend in and have fun and make mistakes or smoke your first cigarette or have your first kiss or have a boyfriend — and to have your boyfriend’s biography written [in the press] before you even know he likes you.’
Proud: From growing up as they did, Michelle said her daughters developed ‘a level of maturity and resilience that not even Barack or I had to have’
Candid: ‘I try to remind them that even the toughest parts of this have value. They’ve grown up with being able to maneuver it with grace,’ she said
Malia has found herself in the press quite a bit in the past few years for these reasons. When the first daughter smoked at a concert and socialized at a party where there was beer, other attendees snapped her photo and shared it online.
Sharing: Michelle’s memoir is part of a $65 million joint book deal with her husband, former President Barack Obama
And when she started dating fellow Harvard student Rory Farquharson, the public couldn’t get enough.
‘I try to remind them that even the toughest parts of this have value. They’ve grown up with being able to maneuver it with grace,’ the former first lady said.
In the magazine interview, she was also asked about how she’ll soon have an empty nest, with Malia off at Harvard and Sasha set to go away to college soon.
But she said she’s not particularly weepy about it since it’s so easy to stay connected.
‘I have the resources that, if I get sad, I’ll go see them,’ she said. Unlike my parents, who dropped me off at college and just had a phone call, I text with my kids.
‘I can text Malia right this second and I know what’s thinking. I feel like she’s off on her next adventure, so I’m excited for her. I don’t need my children to make me happy. I had then so they’d be happy.’
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