Michelle Obama Reveals Advice She Gives Her Daughters: Why ‘Letting Go’ Is Important

Former First Lady Michel­l­­e Obama admits that raising two daughters has been a learning experience for her and, in the new issue of British Vogue, guest-edited by Meghan Markle, Obama is spilling all the beans on motherhood.

Michelle Obama advice to daughters
Michelle Obama | Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Markle conducted the interview with Obama

For the September “Forces for Change” issue of Vogue, Markle serves as guest editor and had the perfect interview subject in mind for a Q&A section: Obama.

She noted in the interview’s introduction that she knew exactly who to tap as the guest for the “back page Q&A feature that is equal parts informative and whimsical.” Markle noted: “My first thought was that it needed to be someone kind, inspirational, motivating, funny, with gravitas and as much depth as levity. My second thought: it needed to be Michelle Obama.”

The duchess asked Obama if she was up for the task “over a casual lunch of chicken tacos” and “[Obama] graciously said yes.”

Markle shared how she was left “speechless” with how “[Obama] could have answered with a sentence or two” but instead answered with “a thoughtful, reflective and beautifully curated narrative.”

Obama shared the advice she gives her daughters

Parenthood isn’t always easy, as Obama noted that “being a mother has been a masterclass in letting go” and has taught her that “most of the time, my job is to give them the space to explore and develop into the people they want to be.”

To that end, when asked about the advice she gives her daughters, Obama offered up this sage wisdom: “Don’t just check the boxes you think you’re supposed to check, like I did when I was their age. I tell them that I hope they’ll keep trying on new experiences until they find what feels right. And what felt right yesterday might not necessarily feel right today.”

She continued: “That’s OK — it’s good, even. When I was in college, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer because it sounded like a job for good, respectable people. It took me a few years to listen to my intuition and find a path that fit better for who I was, inside and out.”

Obama further noted: “Becoming who we are is an ongoing process, and thank God — because where’s the fun in waking up one day and deciding there’s nowhere left to go? That’s something I wish I’d recognised a little earlier. As a younger woman, I spent too much time worrying that I wasn’t achieving enough, or I was straying too far from what I thought was the prescribed path. What I hope my daughters will realise a little earlier is that there is no prescribed path, that it’s OK to swerve, and that the confidence they need to recognise that will come with time.”

Obama’s 15-year-old self would ‘be proud’

When Obama was asked what her 15-year-old self would think of who she has become, she shared how she was a great student, with “through-the-roof standards for herself.” Obama explained that her 15-year-old self would “be proud of how far I’ve come — but she wouldn’t let me off the hook, either. I feel like she’d give me one of those silent nods of recognition, you know? She’d remind me there are still too many girls on the South Side of Chicago who are being shushed, cast aside or told they’re dreaming too big. She’d tell me to keep fighting for them.”

In a bit of a cheeky moment, she admitted, “If I’m being honest, she’d probably smile about how cute my husband is, too.”