7 important parenting lessons Barack Obama taught us

SmartParents takes a look at the priceless relationship hacks America’s former commander in chief has given to parents.

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During his eight years as commander in chief of the US, President Barack Obama, 56, wasn't only one of the world's most powerful leaders, he has shone as an exemplary husband and a dedicated dad to daughters Sasha, 15, and Malia, 18.

From embarrassing them with corny dad jokes to embracing them every opportunity he gets, Obama has showed us time and time again that even though he is head honcho of the free world, being a dad is number one on his priority list.

And despite growing up in the spotlight, Malia and Sasha have developed into strong and confident women. Indeed, whatever your political views regarding Obama, he’s proven one thing ― this POTUS (President of the United States) has his parenting thing down pat.

We salute the 44th President of the Unites States, a man many look up to, especially since we hope to emulate the example he’s set with his family. We present Obama’s top child-rearing tips…

Give your spouse credit

LESSON #1 While he was running the country, the First Lady, Michelle Obama, 54, not only supported him all the way, she also did some heavy lifting with their kids, who were only 7 and 10 when they first moved into The White House. Obama makes sure to credit his significant other every opportunity he gets. He was once quoted as saying, “Obviously, I couldn’t have done anything that I’ve done without Michelle…not only has she been a great First Lady, she is just my rock. I count on her in so many ways every single day.”
KEY TAKEAWAY Parenting is a hard and often thankless job. Even though parents are expected to do their best for their offspring, it’s great to know that one’s spouse appreciates what the other is doing ― especially since the kids often don’t!

Say nice things about your children

LESSON #2 Too often, especially Asian parents, try not to shower their children with compliments for fear that it may make them complacent, or worse, spoiled and feel entitled. Obama isn’t effusive with his compliments to his daughters, but he is not one to be stingy with praises either. His most notable tribute was made at his final address on 10 January 2017, “Malia and Sasha…you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion.”
KEY TAKEAWAY While you needn’t make a Facebook announcement every time your child aces a test or takes a dump in the potty, you shouldn’t forget to focus on their positive traits. You’d also feel grateful as it’s a reminder of just whom you are raising. Also, when you say it out loud, it strikes a chord with your kiddos, reminding them what kind of people they are and should continue to be.

“We pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them. We need to show our kids that you’re not strong by putting other people down ― you’re strong by lifting them up.”

Model the behaviour you want to see in your children

LESSON #3 During his time in the Oval Office, the former POTUS didn’t just entertain world leaders, but he was also frequently photographed chatting candidly with his staff members, fist-bumping the janitor and fooling around with visiting kids. To instil a sense of service in their kids, the First Family also has an annual tradition of distributing food items every Thanksgiving at a non-for-profit organisation. Obama once said, “We pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them. We need to show our kids that you’re not strong by putting other people down ― you’re strong by lifting them up. That’s our responsibility as fathers.”
KEY TAKEAWAY If you want your children to grow up to become gracious, humble, respectable and down-to-earth human beings, you have to first show them what that looks like. And don’t forget, words can inspire, too. Remember the former FLOTUS’s (First Lady of the United States) words at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia ― “When they go low, we go high!”

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Have a sense of humour

LESSON #4 Sure, you take your role as a parent seriously, but nobody said you have to turn into a big ol’ bore! President Obama obviously never received that memo because he’s made us belly laugh on numerous occasions with his endearing antics. How about that time when he slow jammed the news with TV host Jimmy Fallon, or did a mic drop following his “Obama Out” clincher at his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech. Oh, and remember those eye-rolling dad jokes every year at the turkey pardoning? Who can forget golden nuggets like, “Time flies even if turkeys don't” or “Yes, we cran.” Oh, stop Prez…please, stop!
KEY TAKEAWAY Parenting can be overwhelming, so it’s important to laugh often. It helps to diffuse any tension between you and your spouse or the kids. Needless to say, your children will respond better to you if you have a sense of humour, which should help to forge a stronger bond between you.

Love your kids unconditionally

LESSON #5 Though we haven’t been privy to challenges, we’re sure that as teenagers, Malia and Sasha have given their parents their share of trials over the years. Nothing that the President can’t accept though, because he did once say, “Above all, children need our unconditional love ― whether they succeed or make mistakes; when life is easy and when life is tough.” You tell ’em, POTUS!
KEY TAKEAWAY Set high standards for your kids, but don’t punish them for being human. Expect them to be kind, thoughtful and well-mannered, but also allow them to be occasionally grumpy, disrespectful, or have a bad attitude. Instead of shunning or punishing your kids, help them work through these setbacks. Most of all, love them despite everything. This is the only way they will have a strong sense of security and thrive in life.

“Above all, children need our unconditional love ― whether they succeed or make mistakes; when life is easy and when life is tough.”

Fall in love with your spouse over and over again

LESSON #6 The only thing Obama takes more seriously than parenting is probably being a loving husband to Michelle, his spouse of 25 years. Not that she’s a trophy wife by any means, but have you noticed how he “checks out” FLOTUS whenever she walks out in yet another breathtaking ensemble. Or how they are always walking arm-in-arm or hand-in-hand and giving each other short, but loving smooches, when they’re not making eyes at each other. Ahhh…talk about being the definition of #RelationshipGoals!
KEY TAKEAWAY It’s very important for the kids to see you and your spouse show affection and love. They will use it as a benchmark when they are looking for their own life partners later in life. Plus, it also shows them what a healthy and happy union looks like, as well as understand that love aside, a spouse is someone who will go through thick and thin with them.

Be a feminist

LESSON #7 There’s a common thread when it comes to the most important people in Obama’s life ― they are all strong women. POTUS was raised by a single mum and grandmother after his dad walked out on them, went on to marry the love of his life, who is also incidentally an Ivy League graduate and former lawyer. So, by the time his two daughters arrived, the First Dad was very much aware of the gender stereotypes pervading society and has been working hard to breach that ceiling and change attitudes. In an article he penned for Glamour magazine back in August 2016, the Chief writes eloquently, “Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard or feel unfairly judged based on their gender or race — or when they notice that happening to someone else… And yes, it’s important that their dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men.”
KEY TAKEAWAY If you, like Obama, have daughters, don’t feel pressured to raise them to look, behave and think in a certain way. The same goes if you have sons ― instil in them at an early age that girls don’t always need rescuing, nor should they be judged by the way they look or dress.

Photos: Today.com/iStock

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