21 Beautiful Parenting Quotes From Barack And Michelle Obama

"We pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them."
01/13/2017 01:59pm ET | Updated January 16, 2017
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The Obamas pose for an official family portrait in 2011.

During their eight years in the White House, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have shared powerful words about citizenship, community, health, history, religion, relationships and so much more.

But some of their best quotes have been about their most important job ― being parents to Malia and Sasha. As the United States prepares to bid farewell to our current POTUS and FLOTUS, we remember some of their standout quotes about parenting:

“For many of us, our fathers show us by the example they set the kind of people they want us to become. Whether biological, foster, or adoptive, they teach us through the encouragement they give, the questions they answer, the limits they set, and the strength they show in the face of difficulty and hardship.” ― Barack Obama, 2012

“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, 2016

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“Above all, children need our unconditional love — whether they succeed or make mistakes; when life is easy and when life is tough.” ― Barack Obama, 2011

“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

“What I’ve realized is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children — all of our children — a better world. Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.” ― Barack Obama, 2008

Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz photographed the Obama family at the White House in 2009.

“When a father puts in long hours at work, he’s praised for being dedicated and ambitious. But when a mother stays late at the office, she’s sometimes accused of being selfish, neglecting her kids.” ― Michelle Obama, 2016

“Every father bears a fundamental obligation to do right by their children.” Barack Obama, 2012

“It’s about leaving something better for our kids. That’s how we’ve always moved this country forward, by all of us coming together on behalf of our children, folks who volunteer to coach that team, to teach that Sunday school class, because they know it takes a village.” ― Michelle Obama, 2016


“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.” ― Barack Obama, 2008

“In the end, that’s what being a parent is all about — those precious moments with our children that fill us with pride and excitement for their future, the chances we have to set an example or offer a piece of advice, the opportunities to just be there and show them that we love them.” ― Barack Obama, 2011

“Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys ... Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at grandma’s house ... and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both.” ― Michelle Obama, 2012

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As a candidate for U.S. Senate, Barack Obama sits with Michelle, Malia and Sasha as they await the election results in 2004.

“I’m inspired by the love people have for their children. And I’m inspired by my own children, how full they make my heart. They make me want to work to make the world a little bit better. And they make me want to be a better man.” ― Barack Obama, 2008

“As fathers, we need to be involved in our children’s lives not just when it’s convenient or easy, and not just when they’re doing well — but when it’s difficult and thankless, and they’re struggling. That is when they need us most.” Barack Obama, 2009

“When I get up and work out, I’m working out just as much for my girls as I am for me, because I want them to see a mother who loves them dearly, who invests in them, but who also invests in herself. It’s just as much about letting them know as young women that it is okay to put yourself a little higher on your priority list.” ― Michelle Obama, 2012


“[P]ass along the value of empathy to our children. Not sympathy, but empathy ― the ability to stand in somebody else’s shoes; to look at the world through their eyes. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in ‘us,’ that we forget about our obligations to one another. There’s a culture in our society that says remembering these obligations is somehow soft ― that we can’t show weakness, and so therefore we can’t show kindness. But our young boys and girls see that. They see when you are ignoring or mistreating your wife. They see when you are inconsiderate at home; or when you are distant; or when you are thinking only of yourself. And so it’s no surprise when we see that behavior in our schools or on our streets. That’s why we pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them. We need to show our kids that you’re not strong by putting other people down – you’re strong by lifting them up. That’s our responsibility as fathers.” ― Barack Obama, 2008

“It wasn’t so long ago that I was a working mom myself. And I know that sometimes, much as we all hate to admit it, it’s just easier to park the kids in front of the TV for a few hours, so we can pay the bills or do the laundry or just have some peace and quiet for a change.” ― Michelle Obama, 2011

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President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha pose for a family portrait with their pets Bo and Sunny in the Rose Garden of the White House on Easter Sunday 2015.

“To Malia and Sasha and their friends, discrimination in any form against anyone doesn’t make sense. As president, and as a dad, that makes me proud.” Barack Obama, 2015

“So the next time we battle with our kids over those vegetables, or they refuse to join us for a walk to the park, the next time we struggle to change our schools or communities, we need to remind ourselves that parents everywhere are going through exactly the same thing. We have to remember that we’re all in this together. ” ― Michelle Obama, 2011

“All of us can encourage our children to turn off the video games and pick up a book. All of us can pack a healthy lunch for our son, or go outside and play ball with our daughter. And all of us can teach our children the difference between right and wrong, and show them through our own example the value in treating one another as we wish to be treated.” ― Barack Obama, 2011


“Michelle and I know that our first job, our first responsibility, is instilling a sense of learning, a sense of a love of learning in our kids. And so there are no shortcuts there; we have to do that job. And we can’t just blame teachers and schools if we’re not instilling that commitment, that dedication to learning, in our kids.” ― Barack Obama, 2011

“Malia and Sasha ... Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.” ― Barack Obama, 2017