Michelle Obama opened up about raising kids in the White House—they “had to sacrifice a lot of their childhoods”

The Obama family spent eight years in the White House—which means former first daughters Sasha and Malia went from adorable little girls to young women with the world watching. And now, former first lady Michelle Obama is opening up about how she and her husband tried to protect their daughters during that time, while also giving them as much normalcy as possible.

While speaking on the March 17th episode of Conan O'Brien's podcast, Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend, she said, "We had to parent by creating this cocoon of normalcy in a pretty crazy, abnormal world. 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."

“It was very much, keeping them in their reality,” she added. “Making sure we went to the parent teacher conferences, and that we went to the games and that we were sitting on the sidelines with them.” She also noted that the girls had sleepovers, but for safety reasons it always had to be at the White House (and the girls weren’t always thrilled about it). “Their view was, ‘I don’t want to be here, I’m here all the time. I want to go to X’s house.”

Obama acknowledged the sacrifices that had to be made in her children’s most formative years.

"They've also had to sacrifice a lot of their childhoods," 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," she said. "They were the ones going out into the world every day, trying to be regular little girls."

Now 20 and 17, respectively, Obama told O’Brien that she’s in awe of Malia and Sasha for their “poise” and “grace”—as well as the resilience they developed at a young age. We can’t begin to imagine what it is like to grow up under the intense glare of the national spotlight, but it sounds as if both former first kids are thriving. And we can’t wait to see all the amazing things they do next as they grow into adulthood.

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