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Former first lady Michelle Obama says fathers 'play an important role' when raising children

Obama told Gayle King in a recent CBS News interview that her daughters often had to pretend that Secret Service wasn’t hanging around them.

In this Oct. 11, 2018, file photo, Michelle Obama participates in the International Day of the Girl on NBC's "Today" show in New York.
In this Oct. 11, 2018, file photo, Michelle Obama participates in the International Day of the Girl on NBC's "Today" show in New York.
Charles Sykes, Invision/Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Former first lady Michelle Obama says living in the White House was a rough experience for her daughters and she’s surprised they still have friends.

Obama told Gayle King in a recent CBS News interview that her daughters often had to pretend that Secret Service wasn’t hanging around them whenever the Obama girls spent time with their friends. Malia just turned 21 and Sasha just turned 18.

  • "Imagine having Malia and Sasha come to your house for a sleepover," Obama said. “It’s like, 'Hello. OK, we’re going to need your Social Security number, we’re going to need your date of birth. There are going to be men coming to sweep your house. If you have guns and drugs, just tell them yes because they are going to find them anyway. Don’t lie. They’re not going to take them, they just need to know where they are. And, uh, thank you for having Malia and Sasha over. Oh, and by the way, there is going to be a man with a gun sitting outside all night. If you let him use the bathroom, that would be nice.'"

Obama said she and her husband, former President Barack Obama, used their own upbringings as examples of how to keep their daughters grounded while raising them, according to USA Today.

  • "I credit my own upbringing, me and Barack," she said. "We were regular folks, up until he gave that speech at the convention and it was like all of a sudden he was shot out of a rocket."
  • "Our focus was to make sure they did what they needed to do, and that meant pretend like all the craziness around them wasn't happening," she explained. "For eight years we were like, 'Yup, your dad's president. That doesn't have anything to do with you. Take your butt to school. Yes, you have security, just ignore them, they're not here for you.'"

North Star: Obama said it’s important that society, when things turn negative, to seek out its own North Star from within.

Fathers: Obama said fathers “play an important role” when it comes to helping raise children. She said she often thinks about her father, too.

  • "Not a day goes by that me and my brother don't think about the fact that he didn't live long enough to see who he raised.”
  • "My father and my brother had the greatest impact on my self-esteem because I grew up in a household with men who loved me and respected me very early on," she said. "Who told me how beautiful I was, who treated me as an equal. So even at an early age because I had a father and a brother and the men in my life who didn't hurt me, who took care of me, the bar for what I expected for myself was set by the men in my life."