Former First Lady Michelle Obama opened up about her motherhood and parenting views on Conan O’Brien’s podcast “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” this week.
Obama remembered “feminists” attacking her after she called herself the “Mom-in-Chief” after President Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
“[W]hen I got into the White House, when people asked me what was gonna be my agenda, I said, ‘Well, my first focus is gonna be ‘Mom-in-Chief’…And I got criticized by feminists about that, like ‘Mom-in-Chief?’” she relayed to O’Brien.
Some feminist journalists have knocked women who focus on family over work, claiming that “stay-at-home” mothers make men “more sexist.”
The former Harvard-educated lawyer said that while she “knew how to be a professional,” she wanted it to be clear that her kids were her first priority.
“That was a given. I know how to work, I know how to be a professional. I knew, you know, but I thought it was an important thing to say ‘I have to control what I can,’” she said.
“I brought these two kids in the world. I have to be a good mother to them before I can help anybody,” Obama added.
The former first lady related her perspective to how Gen Z was “paralyzed” with “worry” wanting to solve every problem they saw with the world, like “climate change.”
She encouraged young people to control what they can by voting.
“We so make great the enemy of the good. We so, you know, wanna fix climate change that we don’t even vote. You know, we want a democracy, but we can’t be bothered to do the one thing we actually control, which is go to the poll one day every now and then and push a couple of buttons,” she said.
On the podcast Obama shared how she’s learned to manage anxiety and be “comfortably afraid.” She called fear a “necessary” emotion that can be “dangerous” if it stifles growth.
“Helicopter” parents who tried to protect their kids from experiencing this emotion weren’t doing them any favors, she argued.
“Sometimes as parents, because we just don’t want our kids to suffer any failing, we stop those emotions from happening. And the thing that happens is that the first time your kid has to deal with anxiety, they’re 30 years old. They’re outta your house. And you do not want your child to be practicing learning how to deal with their anxiety when they’re in their thirties or in their twenties or after they graduate from college,” Obama said.
She recalled a time when her daughter Sasha asked for anxiety “medication” because she was nervous about getting her school assignment done on time.
“And she basically describes the fact that she gets anxious when she hasn’t done her homework. When she has a test, when she’s procrastinated. I was like, ‘Well, you are supposed to have those feelings. You don’t get medication because’ — the immediate response in the culture she was in was, ‘Maybe I need medication.’ I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no,” she said.
“You have to learn. If you don’t wanna feel that kind of anxiety, then go to bed on time, do your homework on time. You know, you have to work your way through that,’” Obama added.