It’s hard not to admire Michelle Obama. This week, the inspiring former First Lady attended the inaugural Obama Foundation summit in Chicago and spoke about art, family, marriage, and hanging with gal pals.
When it comes to raising kids, she emphasizes what may seem obvious, but is becoming more and more unusual now that screens are dominating our lives: Get your kids to make art and be creative in the physical realm:
Art is the first language we speak, truly. Every child, before they talk, they’re given some paper, a pencil, some crayons … It’s life that yanks that instinct from them. We’re now living in public school systems where art, music, P.E. — the things that bring life and joy are the first things that are cut.
Obama went on to say that we need to continue teaching girls to stand up for themselves — and from a young age — because by the time teenhood comes around, it can be too late.
If we don’t teach our young girls to speak at an early age, that doesn’t just happen. It takes practice to have a voice. You have to use it again and again and again before you can say ‘No’ or ‘Stop. Don’t touch me.’
This also means teaching our kids to use social media wisely and compassionately, she said:
Tweeting and social media — that is a powerful weapon that we just hand over to little kids. You need to think, and spell it right, and have good grammar, too.
It’s all good advice for raising well-adjusted mensches, but what about you, the parent? If you’re running on empty, you certainly won’t be happy, or parenting best you can. Naturally, Obama had some advice for that as well:
I have to plan my happiness. We think happiness just happens — and it can, but you have to work in some happiness too. You’ve got to think about, in this year, when am I going to laugh? When am I going to have fun? When am I going to stop and smell the roses? And then you’ve got to plan it — because if you don’t, the work, the need, the agenda, will overcome everything.
I love my husband and he is my rock, but my girlfriends are my sanity. And when you live eight years in the White House, I had to plan my time with my GFs that kept me grounded and brought me laughter.
Her lasting words?
Sometimes we treat our children too preciously because of the issues they’ve dealt with.
I can’t cherish you to death. We have to raise our children to be the adults that we want them to be, and that starts young. You can’t be so afraid that life will break them that you don’t prepare them for life. Sometimes our fear keeps us from pushing our kids out into the cold cruel world. And then they’re not ready and we wonder why.
Can’t argue with that, even if it is hard letting go.
Here’s a sweet photo of Obama with her own mother:
Happy Birthday Mom! Your unconditional love has made me who I am today. You are my rock. My ❤️. I’ll always be your Miche. I love you. pic.twitter.com/37flZSKJ98
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) July 30, 2017