Barack Obama Prepared Sasha And Malia For California Life With A Total Dad Move

After graduating from Harvard University in 2021, Malia Obama headed to Hollywood to forge a career working with Donald Glover as a writer. Sasha Obama followed her big sister to the west coast a year later when she transferred from the University of Michigan to the University of Southern California. Sasha and Malia share a deep and unique bond, and to Michelle Obama's delight, her daughters decided to live together. "It makes me feel really, really good," the former first lady informed People. "Not just that they're living together, but they're thriving together — and they're thriving on their own."

Barack Obama is also proud of his adult daughters. "They've become these marvelous young women—there's been no greater joy than that," he explained to Hello! Even so, the former president occasionally gets concerned. "He's still typical [Dad]," Michelle told People. "You think about crazy things you want to make sure you tell them. It's like, 'Remember, don't walk alone at night!'" 

Since his daughters reside in California, Barack texts and emails to disseminate info on earthquakes. "In the middle of the night, he's sending some article on a 10-step plan that includes, you know, getting earthquake training and stocking up on water," Michelle divulged to NPR. While Malia and Sasha sometimes react to their dad's missives with a chuckle, they're also conscientious. According to Michelle, after reading the article, one of her daughters asked for guidance, writing, "Which of these things do you think we should do? Because it's a lot."

Barack Obama also can't resist a dad joke

While Barack Obama takes his parental responsibilities seriously, he also revels in the humorous side of being a father. The former president has frequently indulged in dad jokes, most famously during his 2016 turkey pardon. "Thanksgiving is a family holiday as much as a national one," Barack commented. "So for the past seven years I've established another tradition: embarrassing my daughters with a corny-copia of dad jokes about turkeys." During the pun-laden speech, he vowed to continue the tradition post-White House, jesting, "No way I'm cutting this habit cold turkey."

Besides dishing out dad-inspired wit, Barack's also admitted to being on the receiving end of Michelle, Malia, and Sasha Obama's humor. "The three of them just mock me constantly," Barack explained on Dax Shepard's "Armchair Expert" podcast. Barack, however, has also done impersonations of his daughters. During a visit to a D.C. high school in 2016, the then-president quipped, "Good thing you all had your phones with you. As the father of two teenage daughters, I know the whole time you were just like, 'And then he said. Girl, I couldn't believe it.'"

Even so, in his farewell address as president, Barack expressed his tender side, praising his daughters. "You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily," he noted, referencing Malia and Sasha's unusual childhood. "Of all that I've done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad."

Barack Obama believes courage and unconditional love are two key dad qualities

From the moment Malia and Sasha Obama were born, Barack Obama was a dedicated father. "It was physical, it was emotional, spiritual," Barack reminisced on his "Renegades" podcast (via Popsugar). "I thought to myself: 'OK. If the baseline is unconditional love, I've got that.'" In addition, Barack carved out family time amid his presidential duties, making sure he joined his family for dinner and participated in reading to his daughters at bedtime.

Although loving his children was instinctive, the former president has been candid about the challenges of being a parent. "It's the courage to raise a child that makes you a father," Barack said during a 2008 Father's Day speech, per CBS News. Given his emotional connection to his daughters, it wasn't easy for either Barack or Michelle Obama when Malia and Sasha left for college.

The Obamas had been mentally preparing for their daughters to grow up since they were babies. Referencing her own mother, Michelle told NPR, "She said, 'I'm not raising children, I'm raising adults." This strategy led to an open, honest parent-child dialogue that Michelle emulated when raising Malia and Sasha. However, the former first lady also recognized the difficulty of letting go. "You can prepare and love them all that you can and you still don't have control," she acknowledged. "But the alternative is to stop them from growing. And that, in my view, would be the sad outcome."