When Barack Obama became our 44th president and stepped into the White House, many of us were first stepping into motherhood. As the Obamas parented Sasha and Malia, we were parenting our own children. We are the parents whose motherhood was born under the Obama presidency.
We watched the Obamas, modeled after them, and were inspired by their love and commitment to their family and our country. We bounced babies as we watched the inauguration and let our children stay up late watching speeches. We took solace from their words when the world where we parented seemed so uncertain. Yet at the same time, under President Obama, we felt inspired by hope about the America we were all building together for our children.
For those of us who have become parents under the Obama presidency, we remain continually inspired to be better and do better as parents and these quotes exemplify why the Obamas are our #ParentingGoals.
“I come here as a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world — they’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future — and all our children’s future — is my stake in this election.” –Michelle Obama, speaking at the 2008 Democratic National Convention
“The first is setting an example of excellence for our children — because if we want to set high expectations for them, we’ve got to set high expectations for ourselves. It’s great if you have a job; it’s even better if you have a college degree. It’s a wonderful thing if you are married and living in a home with your children, but don’t just sit in the house and watch ‘SportsCenter’ all weekend long. That’s why so many children are growing up in front of the television. As fathers and parents, we’ve got to spend more time with them, and help them with their homework, and replace the video game or the remote control with a book once in awhile. That’s how we build that foundation.” –President Obama’s Father’s Day remarks, 2008
“Maybe it means telling your sons that it’s okay to cry, and your daughters that it’s okay to be bossy. Maybe it means encouraging your daughters, not just your son, to study math and science and sign up for the football team. And if there isn’t a team for girls, maybe it means asking why not.”–Michelle Obama, remarks at Let Girls Learn Event in Madrid, Spain, 2016
“It’s up to us — as fathers and parents — to instill this ethic of excellence in our children. It’s up to us to say to our daughters, don’t ever let images on TV tell you what you are worth, because I expect you to dream without limit and reach for those goals. It’s up to us to tell our sons, those songs on the radio may glorify violence, but in my house we live glory to achievement, self respect, and hard work. It’s up to us to set these high expectations. And that means meeting those expectations ourselves. That means setting examples of excellence in our own lives.”–President Obama’s Father’s Day remarks, 2008
“Being a good parent — whether you’re gay or straight; a foster parent or a grandparent – isn’t easy. It demands your constant attention, frequent sacrifice, and a healthy dose of patience. And nobody’s perfect. To this day, I’m still figuring out how to be a better husband to my wife and father to my kids.” –President Obama discussing Father’s Day, 2013
“How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel, or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level — no, our motto is, when they go low, we go high. With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are their most important role models.” –Michelle Obama, speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention
“But between my own experiences growing up, and my ongoing efforts to be the best father I can be, I’ve learned a few things about what our children need most from their parents. First, they need our time. And more important than the quantity of hours we spend with them is the quality of those hours. Maybe it’s just asking about their day, or talking a walk together, but the smallest moments can have the biggest impact. They also need structure, including learning the values of self-discipline and responsibility. Malia and Sasha may live in the White House these days, but Michelle and I still make sure they finish their schoolwork, do their chores, and walk the dog.” President Obama discussing Father’s Day, 2011
“Look, I love our daughters more than anything in the world, more than life itself. And while that may not be the first thing that some folks want to hear from an Ivy-league educated lawyer, it is truly who I am. So for me, being Mom-in-Chief is, and always will be, job number one.” Michelle Obama, 2015
“Don’t just spend time with your kids because it’s good for the kids; understand that there’s nothing that’s going to be more precious in your life and you are going to savor every memory.” –President Obama in an interview with TODAY, 2014
“I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don’t be afraid — you hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope, never fear. And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life.”–Michelle Obama in our final speech as First Lady, 2017
“I think they would say that I am good, fun dad who teeters on the edge of being embarrassing sometimes. As Malia put it, I’m right on the edge but I usually stay on the right side of the edge of being funny rather than totally humiliating to them.” –President Obama in an interview with TODAY, 2014
“What message are our little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations? And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this. And I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere.”–Michelle Obama’s Speech on Donald Trump’s Alleged Treatment of Women 2017
“So regardless of the station that we occupy, we all have to try harder. We all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.” President Obama, 2017
“Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women. You are smart and you are beautiful, but more importantly, you are kind and you are thoughtful and you are full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad.” President Obama’s Farewell Address, 2017
“It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation. And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we’re all parents; that they’re all our children. This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.” –President Obama, speaking at the Sandy Hook Interfaith Prayer Vigil, 2012
The Obamas have shown us that no matter our job outside the home, our first and most important job is being a parent. They have shown us that today’s American family has the ability to be both strong and empathetic. We’ve watched with admiration and awe as they parent with grace, class, fun, and fortitude. I’m heartbroken that they are leaving the White House, but I am grateful for the time we had with them, and I’m inspired in my motherhood and very much proud to be an American family.