What Michelle Obama Told Meghan Markle About Raising Sasha and Malia Obama

Meghan Markle and Michelle Obama

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Meghan Markle interviewed Michelle Obama for the September issue of British Vogue that the Duchess of Sussex guest-edited. The Q&A was released today with a lengthy, intimate introduction written by Meghan herself describing the experience of talking to her “former First Lady, and now friend.”

Meghan wrote that she was blown away by the answers Michelle sent her to the questions she asked. They “left me somewhat speechless. A few ‘simple questions’ (which she could have answered with a sentence or two) were returned to me as a thoughtful, reflective and beautifully curated narrative—a gentle reminder not of how but of why she has become such a globally respected public figure.”

Meghan added that she would have done the interview differently if she knew Michelle was going to be so open. “I share all this with you as a disclaimer of sorts: had I known Michelle would be so generous in making this a comprehensive interview my questions would have been lengthier, more probing, more engaging,” the Duchess wrote. “I would have called her and included the banter on these pages—the laughs and sighs and ping-pong of dialogue as I chimed in. But to re-engineer that now would rob Michelle’s words of their authenticity, which, for me, is at the crux of what makes this piece special.”

Meghan wasn’t downplaying the power of what Michelle told her. Michelle really opened up about what raising her daughters Sasha and Malia had taught her and what advice she gives to them.

“Being a mother has been a masterclass in letting go. Try as we might, there’s only so much we can control,” Michelle started, when asked what she learned from motherhood. “And, boy, have I tried—especially at first. As mothers, we just don’t want anything or anyone to hurt our babies. But life has other plans. Bruised knees, bumpy roads and broken hearts are part of the deal. What’s both humbled and heartened me is seeing the resiliency of my daughters. In some ways, Malia and Sasha couldn’t be more different. One speaks freely and often, one opens up on her own terms. One shares her innermost feelings, the other is content to let you figure it out. Neither approach is better or worse, because they’ve both grown into smart, compassionate and independent young women, fully capable of paving their own paths.

“Motherhood has taught me that, most of the time, my job is to give them the space to explore and develop into the people they want to be,” Michelle continued. “Not who I want them to be or who I wish I was at that age, but who they are, deep inside. Motherhood has also taught me that my job is not to bulldoze a path for them in an effort to eliminate all possible adversity. But instead, I need to be a safe and consistent place for them to land when they inevitably fail; and to show them, again and again, how to get up on their own.”

The advice she gives Sasha and Malia is “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. That’s okay—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.”

You can read Michelle’s full interview here.

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