"We want to hear their thoughts and their opinions," the former first lady said on Good Morning America

By Sean Neumann
March 03, 2021 10:44 AM
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Michelle Obama says she and former President Barack Obama have been happily getting an earful from daughters Sasha and Malia.

Speaking with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts on Wednesday, the former first lady shared her thoughts on future generations of young Americans, whom she has often described in inspiring terms — starting with her own kids.

"If you sit around the dinner table, me and Barack, we can't get a word in edgewise and we like it like that," said Mrs. Obama, 57. "We want to hear their thoughts and their opinions, and that's where it begins."

"I always have wanted them to start practicing the power of their voices very early on" and that "what I hope they learn is that who they are right now is enough," she said of her girls.

In a Mother's Day essay for PEOPLE in 2019, Mrs. Obama reflected on her own mother's parenting and the lessons she wanted to impart as a mom herself.

"It's up to us, as mothers and mother-figures, to give the girls in our lives the kind of support that keeps their flame lit and lifts up their voices — not necessarily with our own words, but by letting them find the words themselves," she wrote then.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha
From left: Malia, Barack, Michelle and Sasha Obama at the White House
| Credit: Pete Souza/The White House via Getty

In an interview in November, President Obama told PEOPLE he "could not have been prouder" of Sasha, 19, and Malia, 22, who had participated in protests against racial injustice and police brutality last summer.

Noting the young organizers who led the demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd, the former first lady told GMA on Wednesday that what gives her "even more hope is what happened at the polls in November," referring to the election.

"We gotta march, we gotta protest and we have to vote," she said. "We have to be educated and we have to be informed. Young people are starting to put those pieces together and understand that it's not either-or — it's all of it."

The Obamas have long made clear their focus is on making way for future generations.

"They are our hope," the former first lady told Roberts on Wednesday. "They are not jaded yet. They are not beaten down by what they're supposed to be. They are still wide open."

That's a theme of her bestselling memoir, Becoming, she said.

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Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama
| Credit: Marla Aufmuth/Getty

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"If you are lucky, you will never become something and that's the end," Mrs. Obama added. "If you are lucky, you will constantly grow and evolve until the day you cannot breathe anymore. We are all learning and becoming something better and greater."

As for herself, the former first lady said on GMA that she has been evolving as well, while she becomes "someone that is comfortable getting out of the way so that the next generation can take the seat that I'm sitting in."

"I'm becoming more free," Mrs. Obama said. "I hope I'm becoming smarter, wiser and more patient."