Michelle Obama on How Quarantine Changed Her Relationship with Sasha and Malia

Culture

Former First Lady Michelle Obama gave People an in-depth interview about her life quarantining in this week’s issue—and how having her college-age daughters back in her house changed their relationship over the last year. Twenty-two-year-old Harvard University senior Malia and 19-year-old University of Michigan sophomore Sasha were sent home for remote learning when COVID-19 drastically altered life in America last spring and shut down college campuses across the country.

“Our girls were supposed to have emptied out of my nest,” Obama said. “I was sort of celebrating that they were out building their lives and allowing me the emotional space to let them go. Well, they’re back!”

And the time has been really good for their evolving relationship, Obama explained: “This time has allowed us to get some stolen moments back with our girls. Those recaptured moments have meant the world to us, and I think they’ve made our relationships with our children even stronger.”

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“There’s something about witnessing your children become adults and developing a different relationship with them,” she continued. “They didn’t come back into the house into the same set of rules, because I didn’t want them to miss out on independence. They came back as young women and our conversations are more peer-oriented than they are mother-to-daughter.”

Malia and Sasha, by the way, have taken up cooking during quarantine in addition to studying: “They love the freedom of being in the kitchen, creating, experimenting,” the former First Lady said.

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