We’ve watched Malia and Sasha Obama grow up over the past eight years–and it’s been incredible not just because they’ve blossomed into intelligent, strong women, but because we’ve also witnessed truly amazing parenting. Last night, I almost cried when President Barack Obama mentioned his daughters during his Farewell Address.
Obama made sure that everyone in the country knows the most important job he’s ever had–and will have in this life–is being a dad. He said:
“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 have done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad.”
If that didn’t make you all verklempt, the moment Malia Obama started tearing up definitely got me.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 11, 2017
Let’s also not forget that Obama has had a perfect attendance record at his daughters’ parent-teacher conferences. In his book, “Dreams from My Father,” Obama described his own isolation growing up without a father, explaining how this inspired him to be a good dad himself. At a panel on Overcoming Poverty at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit held at Georgetown University in 2015, he stated:
“I am a black man who grew up without a father, and I know the cost that I paid for that. And I also know that I have the capacity to break that cycle, and as a consequence, I think my daughters are better off.”
Of course, this devotion isn’t lost on Michelle Obama, either. He mentioned her during his Address as well, calling her his “best friend”:
“Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, girl of the South Side. For the past 25 years you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend.
You took on a role you didn’t ask for, and you made it your own — with grace and with grit and with style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody, and a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model.”
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Obama on fatherhood–we could all take a leaf out of his book when it comes to being present partners and parents:
1. During a speech at an Indiana high school in June 2016, he spoke about Malia’s leave for college:
“My daughter leaving me is just breaking my heart,” he revealed. “If there are any parents here, I hope you can give me some pointers on how not to cry too much at the ceremony and embarrass her.”
2. On The Ellen DeGeneres Show in February 2016, Obama said revealed he’s not ready for Malia to head off to college:
“I was asked if I would speak at her graduation and I said absolutely not because I’m gonna be sitting there with dark glasses sobbing. She’s one of my best friends. . . . She’s just a really smart, capable person. She’s ready to make her own way.”
3. In Obama’s 2012 Father’s Day speech, he spoke about fatherhood:
“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.”
4. Let’s not forget his 2011 Father’s Day speech:
“Above all, children need our unconditional love — whether they succeed or make mistakes; when life is easy and when life is tough.”
5. Then in his 2008 Father’s Day speech, he talked about what makes a father:
“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.”
6. When Obama was interviewed by Robin Roberts, he discussed how his daughters influenced his pro same-sex marriage stance:
“You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents, and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”
Obama, I will miss you.