Barack Obama is known for getting poetic about international relations, domestic politics, and political philosophy. He takes the same approach when it comes to parenting.
The former president has two daughters, Malia and Sasha, with his wife Michelle Obama. Over the course of his decades in the spotlight, Obama has shared his experiences with raising children, from the way they inspired him to his embarrassing moments with his father.
For his birthday we have compiled 20 quotes about Obama’s fatherhood.
About the role of fathers
“For many of us, our fathers show us by example that they are the kind of people they want us to be. Biological, foster or adopted children, they teach us through the encouragement they give, the questions they answer, the boundaries they set, and the strength they show in the face of difficulties and hardships. “
What it takes to be a father
“I’ve found that life doesn’t count for much unless you are willing to do your little part in making a better world for our children – all of our children. Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It is the courage to raise a child that makes you a father. “
What he is proud of as a parent
“For Malia and Sasha and their friends, any form of discrimination makes no sense. As a president and as a father, that makes me proud. “
About coaching his daughter’s basketball team
“It’s great to watch 9, 10 year old girls play basketball, hard, just intense. And last year I actually did a little training … and the amazing thing is how much more stressful it was training and watching these girls than when I was playing. They just want them to win so badly. And when you actually run a play and it works – you are just amazed. And a few heartbreaking losses and you just feel terrible. But they are wonderful. ”
President-elect Barack Obama stands on stage with his family during an election night in Grant Park in Chicago on November 4, 2008.
What children need
“Above all else, children need our unconditional love – whether they succeed or fail; when life is easy and when life is hard. “
How his children inspire him
“I am inspired by people’s love for their children. And I’m inspired by my own children, how full they fill my heart. You make me work to make the world a little better. And they make me be a better man. “
About Malia and Sasha
“You did it so well. You are wonderful girls. You are smart and funny. But most of all, they’re nice. You have no attitude. “
About being the current parent
“It’s a wonderful thing when you’re married and live in a home with your kids, but don’t just sit in the house all weekend and watch SportsCenter. That is why so many children grow up in front of the television. As fathers and parents, we need to spend more time with them, help them with their homework and occasionally replace the video game or remote control with a book. “
About the embarrassment of his daughters
“Thanksgiving is a family holiday as well as a national one. So over the past seven years I have established another tradition: embarrassing my daughters with a trite copy of papa jokes about turkeys. “
Obama makes remarks with his daughters during the annual turkey pardon ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Nov. 25, 2015.
For the Abitur in Malia
“My daughter who leaves me just breaks my heart. If parents are here, I hope you can give me some pointers on how not to cry too much and embarrass them at the ceremony. “
About the little things
“Ultimately, it’s about being parents – those precious moments with our children that fill us with pride and anticipation for their future, the opportunities to lead by example or to give advice, the opportunities to just be there show them that we love them. “
At the family dinner at the White House
“What I wasn’t expecting was the fact that as President, I can spend a lot more time with my children. Because now I live above the shop. I have a 30-second commute time, so I just made a rule: I’ll have dinner with my crew at 6:30 a.m. every night, unless I’m traveling … and I’ll sit there and I’ll ‘I will completely occupied with stories about the annoying boys and the weird teacher and the drama in the cafeteria, how I read Harry Potter and put them in and hear the music they are listening to. “
To the duty of parenthood
“Every father has a fundamental obligation to prove that his children are right.”
Obama and his daughters Sasha at a rally at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Missouri, November 1, 2008.
About becoming a parent
“We had this nice track of about three years where she did her thing in her career and I did mine. Then we tried to have children. It took a while. Michelle had a couple of miscarriages and we had to work on them somehow. When Malia was finally born, we were more than ready to be parents, weren’t we? Because there was this six year run where we probably tried about half of it, so it wasn’t a surprise. “
About the best metaphor for children
“Michelle found out much earlier than I did that children are like plants. They need sun, earth, water, but some are oak, some pine, some willow, and some bamboo. These seeds of who they are and the pace and manner in which they will unfold are just theirs. I think I had an idea about Malia and Sasha, there was a way of doing things – and what Michelle found out earlier than I did, but I also learned that everyone is just magical in their own way. A branch will sprout when it sprouts. A flower will burst when it pops. They just roll with this unfolding, this unfolding of who they are, and are comfortable just discovering them instead of feeling like a project. “
About the tough moments
“As fathers, we need to be part of the lives of our children, not just when it is convenient or easy and not only when they are okay – but when it is difficult and ungrateful and they struggle. Then they need us most. “
About the power of parenting
“I didn’t have to work on the love of being a father. It was physical, it was emotional, it was spiritual, you know. I fully felt the connection to my children. I was like, ‘Okay. If the baseline is unconditional love, I have that. ‘”
The Obamas wait for the US Senate election results on November 2, 2004 in a Chicago hotel room.
“[P]Ass along the value of empathy for our children. Not sympathy, but empathy the ability to slip into someone else’s shoes; to see the world through their eyes. Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in “us” that we forget our obligations to one another. There is a culture in our society that says that it is kind of soft to remember these obligations – that we cannot show weakness and therefore cannot show kindness. But our boys and girls see that. They see when you ignore or abuse your wife. You see when you are inconsiderate at home; or if you are aloof; or when you just think about yourself. It is therefore not surprising when we see this behavior in our schools or on our streets. That is why we pass on the values of empathy and friendliness to our children by living them. We need to show our children that you are not strong by humiliating other people – you are strong when you lift them up. That is our responsibility as fathers. “
About raising children who love to learn
“Michelle and I know that our first job, our first responsibility, is to make our children feel about learning and love to learn. So there are no abbreviations; we have to do this work. And we can’t just blame teachers and schools if we don’t teach our children this commitment, this dedication to learning. “