Michelle Obama Says She's 'On the Other Side of Parenting' Malia and Sasha: I'm 'Advisor-in-Chief'

"I'm moving from mom-in-chief to advisor-in-chief," the former first lady said on the first episode of her new Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast

Michelle Obama. Photo: Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images

Michelle Obama says her role as a parent has changed in a big way.

On the first episode of her new The Light Podcast, the former first lady, 59, discussed with the Today show's Hoda Kotb about why being in her 50s is so enjoyable, and part of it she said is because she's "on the other side of parenting."

"I'm moving from mom-in-chief to advisor-in-chief," the mom of two said. "That's a lovely thing — to be able to watch my girls fly and have the relief that 'Okay, I think I didn't mess them up.' "

She also said with that new designation, her communication with daughters, Malia, 24, and Sasha, 21, has evolved to the point where she doesn't greet them with "a critical eye."

Obama recalled one incident on the podcast when Malia walked into her hotel room in wrinkly clothes and she gave her some advice. " 'You're wrinkly — you're gonna do something about this.' And she was like 'Yeah, Mom,' " she recalled.

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"And then I thought I did it. I greeted her with — instead of what I felt, which is, 'Sit on my lap, give me a kiss' — I'm fixing things. I'm pointing out, 'Oh my God, your hair is not right here,' " Obama said.

"What Toni Morrison says is that our kids just want our gladness. They don't need us to fix them," she added. "They don't need us to point out the thing that's wrong, first."

Since leaving the White House, Obama's daughters have moved out of their parents' home and are living together in Los Angeles.

Malia has been working in the TV industry working as a production assistant on Halle Berry's CBS sci-fi drama series Extant and as a writer on Donald Glover's Amazon series Swarm, while Sasha is studying psychology at the University of Southern California.

While promoting her book The Light We Carry in PEOPLE's November 2022 issue, Obama discussed what she felt when her girls announced they were moving in together.

"You try not to react too much because you don't want to go, 'Oh my gosh, I'm so happy for you!' because then they think, 'Well, maybe this is not a good thing if my mom likes it,' " she said.

"So I just said, 'Okay, well that's interesting that you guys are going to try living together. We'll see how it goes,' " Obama added. "But yeah, it feels good to know that the two girls you raised find solace at a kitchen table with one another. It's like the one thing you want for them."

The proud mom of two also gave PEOPLE an idea of how she and husband Barack Obama now parent from afar, with their daughters living almost 3,000 miles away.

Obama said there's a lot of texting involved, and that the former president, 61, is often the most active on their family text chain.

"He's still typical [Dad]," she said. "You have these weird panic thoughts that your girls are out living in this messy world."

"And so, you think about crazy things you want to make sure you tell them. It's like, 'Remember, don't walk alone at night!'" Obama added. "Barack sent them an email about earthquake preparedness because they're living in California. He's a big article sender, and we all just read 'em and laugh."

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