President Obama’s Advice to Daughters About College Life Is Priceless

President Obama’s Advice to Daughters About College Life Is Priceless

Plus, he says Malia would hold her own against “knuckleheads” on campus.

Published November 16, 2015

You probably remember the pep talk your parents gave before you headed off to college — you know, about studying hard and becoming a responsible adult. Now image if your dad is the leader of the free world. We can imagine those sit-downs being even more tedious.

President Obama recently shared with The Week’s George Stephanopoulos the advice he’s giving to daughters Malia, 17, and Sasha, 14, about what it really means to be a leader, particularly in the wake of the recent protests over racism at the University of Missouri.

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"We talk about this at the dinner table," President Obama said. "And I say to them, 'Listen, if you hear somebody using a racial epithet, if you hear somebody who's anti-Semitic, if you see an injustice, I want you to speak out. I want you to protect people who may not have voices themselves, I want you to be somebody who's strong and sees themselves as somebody who's looking out for the vulnerable’,” he said.

He continues, “But I tell 'em: 'I want you also to be able to listen. I don't want you to think that a display of your strength is simply shutting other people up. And that part of your ability to bring about change is going to be by engagement and understanding the viewpoints and the arguments of the other side.'”

And yes, the first daughters have Secret Service protection around the clock, but don’t think that makes them meek. In fact, the president said of Malia, who will be a college freshman next fall, “I tell you: I trust Malia in an argument.”

"If a knucklehead on a college campus starts talking about her, I guarantee you she will give as good as she gets."


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Written by Britt Middleton

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