Being the children of the president of the United States has its comforts — as well as its struggles. On Monday, Michelle Obama spoke about Sasha and Malia growing up in the White House during an interview with comedian Conan O'Brien on his podcast. The former first lady said that she and Barack Obama tried to create a semblance of calm for their daughters in the White House.
"We had to parent by creating this cocoon of normalcy in a pretty crazy, abnormal world," Obama said on the "Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend" podcast. "We spent eight years just going, 'It's OK! You'll be fine, this is normal, just go to school. You have men with guns ... hey, you know, you're safe, don't complain! You have food, so don't complain to me.'"
Obama told O'Brien that much of the couple's parenting was about centering Sasha and Malia "in their reality." Obama added that little things like going to sports games together, attending parent teacher conferences, and spending time with their kids was part of their efforts to make life normal for Sasha and Malia.
Being the first children meant Sasha and Malia had to "sacrifice a lot of their childhoods," according to Obama. She said, "Living in this glare and being the subject of some of this nastiness themselves and learning, at a very young age, how do you recover from that. They were the ones going out into the world every day, trying to be regular little girls."
In various conversations with media outlets, Obama has been candid about what comes with raising one's children in the White House. The former first couple and their two daughters spent eight years on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And there were times when Obama said that she felt guilty for Sasha and Malia being there.
In November 2018, Obama told the Today show: "You want your kids to grow up normal. You want them to be able to have wonderful experiences privately. And you want them to be able to fail and stumble privately, like any other kids. When they’re not allowed to do that, it’s unfair and you feel guilty about it. Because they didn’t choose this life."
Obama said on the show that she and her husband tried to make sure that they actively took part in their girls' lives before they embarked on their own journeys. "The question that I ask my husband is, 'OK, let’s make sure we’re making time to enjoy the life that we’ve been working for. We’re going to be empty nesters soon,'" she said on Today.
On O'Brien's podcast, Obama added that she arranged regular activities like sleepovers for the girls. She said that it was vital for Sasha and Malia to have normal hangouts.
In spite of the struggles, the former first lady told O'Brien that she was proud of her daughters. "I am in awe of my children for the way they have managed this whole thing with poise and grace," Obama said. "There's a resilience that they've had to develop."