Barack Obama's Tips for Empty-Nesters: 'Cry in the Car' and 'Try to Bribe' Your Grown Kids

The former president shared his (and wife Michelle's) advice with Today’s Al Roker while promoting the debut of his new Netflix series, Our Great National Parks

Former First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Barack Obama are seen after their portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery on Monday February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Photo: Matt McClain/Getty

Former President Barack Obama had an opportunity to teach a group of kids about migration when he and Al Roker recently hosted a nature scavenger hunt around Great Falls National Park in Virginia and spotted some birds on their springtime journey.

Obama, who chatted with Roker for a Today show segment that aired Wednesday, also had a lesson for the co-host on letting nature take its course when one's offspring are ready to fly out of the nest.

Roker, 67, mentioned his son Nick, who's preparing to go to college. "You've been through it, do you have any tips for us as far as empty nesters?" Roker asked Obama, whose daughters Malia and Sasha are out of his and wife Michelle Obama's home.

"Well, first tip is you are going to weep copiously when you drop Nick off at college, but you can't let him see you cry, so you drop him off and then you quickly leave, and then you cry in the car," President Obama, 60, said.

Sasha, 20, is currently in college and 23-year-old Malia graduated from Harvard University last spring. Over the holidays, the Obamas kept an annual family tradition of traveling to Hawaii as a family and suggested a similar tactic for coping with the absence of grown children.

"Tip number two is you try to bribe them with like nice trips — 'Hey, we're going to Hawaii, you guys want to come?' — So that they show up," the former president told Roker on Wednesday.

Obama's appearance on Today coincides with the debut of a new Netflix series, Our Great National Parks, which he executive produced and narrates.

The project, described as a call to preserve the beauty of the world's majestic parks for future generations, is just one way he's kept busy since leaving the White House, in addition to memoir-writing and activism.

Obama's New Netflix Series

"There's nothing that compares to the privilege and honor of serving the American people in the highest office in the land. There are times when I miss the work," he told Roker on Today of his post-presidential life. "I don't miss the hoopla though. And, you know, we're finding that we can be productive, contributing citizens in all kinds of other ways."

Apart from the parenting tips, Obama shared some more serious words of wisdom with Roker — but gave his wife the credit.

"Michelle always said, and she's absolutely right about this, our job as parents is to teach our kids not to need us," he said. "And it hurts, but when you see them as accomplished, confident, kind, thoughtful responsible people, then you know you've done your job."

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