Former first lady Michelle Obama made an interesting observation during a discussion at the first-ever Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago — are we protecting our boy children so much that we’re enabling entitlement?
The topic came up during a conversation about raising children and empowering girls to use their voice. Obama, the mother of two teenaged daughters, questioned whether we’re raising our girls to be strong and taking care not to expose the boys to the ills of the world.
“We love our boys and we raise our girls,” Obama said. “We raise them to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men. And I think we pay for that a little bit.” But that same strength we use to raise girls, Obama suggested, needs to be defined in a way that doesn’t aid misogyny, but upholds positive values when it comes to boys.
“It’s powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean? Does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much so that they feel a little entitled and a little, you know, self-righteous sometimes?”
Obama admitted that we push girls to be perfect, remarking on her own experiences raising Malia, 19 and Sasha, 16. Earlier in the conversation, the former first lady touched on empowering young girls and raising all children to be “independent, well-meaning, kind and compassionate.”
“If we don’t teach our young girls to speak at an early age, that doesn’t just happen.”
“We have to raise our children to be people. Whether they have had struggles or whatever the world has for them.”
The conversation, moderated by friend and poet Elizabeth Alexander, segued into a conversation about the importance of having girlfriends, specifically for Mrs. Obama, who spent eight years in the White House under intense security. Going out with girlfriends on a whim was not an option for Obama, who said she still finds herself asking if she’s “free to go.”
“I love my husband,” she said. “But my girlfriends are my sanity.”
As for men? “Ya’ll need to get some friends,” Obama said as the audience erupted in laughter. “Ya’ll need to go talk to each other about your stuff.”