January 14th, 2009
09:59 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama writes letter to daughters about their 'great adventure'

On the eve of his historic inauguration, President-elect Obama has written a letter to his daughters about why he ran for the White House.
On the eve of his historic inauguration, President-elect Obama has written a letter to his daughters about why he ran for the White House.

(CNN) – With the nation fighting two wars, the economy in recession, and signs that congressional Democrats will be asserting their institutional independence from the very beginning of his administration, President-elect Barack Obama has still found time to attend to every detail of his transition to power.

In a letter that will appear in Parade magazine this Sunday, Obama explains to his two daughters why he decided to run for president and, in the process, forever change their lives along with his.

“When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me – about how I’d make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want,” Obama says in the letter published on the magazine’s Web site Wednesday. But with the birth of Malia and Sasha, “suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn’t seem so important anymore.”

“I realized that my own life wouldn’t count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours,” he writes. “In the end, girls, that’s why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.”

Obama tells 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha that he wants all American children to attend good schools, have the chance to go to college, and “get good jobs” when they grow up. The incoming president said he also wants his daughters to see the kind of technological innovation that will make “our planet cleaner and safer.”

“I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us form seeing the best in each other,” he writes.

And Obama also calls on his daughters to give back. “America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better,” Obama writes, citing a lesson learned from his own mother.

“I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you've had.”

Click here to read the entire letter.

soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    Of course this is a PR stunt. Otherwise, why share a family moment with the country. You can also see by some of the comments that this stunt is working. Yet, he is injecting his children into the national spotlight. They really shouldn't be used as tools to benefit his popularity. Of course, if he is not able to express himself directly to them, then perhaps it is understandable.
    What worries me is that line that he is attending to every detail of the transition. Some have already expressed that he is a micromanager and here's some more added to that.

    January 14, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. justwow

    GET OVER IT LOSERS AND STOP HATIN'!!!!!

    January 14, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. bob

    if it's not about him, why did he have to tell the public about it?

    January 14, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Barbara Askew

    I cannot believe the mean-spirit evidenced in some of the above comments. I find it incredibly honorable & loving that the President-elect feels inspired to put in writing what he himself feels & what he hopes will be his and his family's legacy to the country, that in this moment in time, needs him badly.

    BA

    January 14, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. SENATUS POPOLUSQUE ROMANUS

    As a father with a run-of-the-mill job, I had no reason to write to my kids about my work choices.

    If I were a President Elect I would have written to them, BUT kept the letter for myself and them.

    Years and years later, my kids (NOT I) would have decided, if make it public or not.

    I hope Barak is not already thinking about building up his future Library............. :-)

    January 14, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  6. Derick

    There's so much cynicism on this board. Cynicism never put one person back to work Cynicism never taught a single child how to read. Cynicism never stopped a war. Cynicism never inspired one person to stand up to right a social wrong.

    Try building up others for once instead of devoting your life to knocking others down.

    Props to Obama for doing the right thing. Hopefully other fathers will follow his lead.

    January 14, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. Tom

    Its funny people are mentioning Palin in the comments section of this...None of you (Alaska residents excluded) would have any idea who Sarah Palin is if it wasn't for her nomination being a McCain PR stunt.

    January 14, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Steve B

    I think when all is said and done, Obama will be one of the great leaders the world has ever seen, he is the right person for the job. He will have his dissapointments but in the end he will make us all proud.

    January 14, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Leigh

    It's clear from article (the actual website) that he was asked by PARADE to write an open letter to his daughters. The intro at the top of the letter is pasted below,

    "Next Tuesday, Barack Obama will be sworn in as our 44th President. On this historic occasion, PARADE asked the President-elect, who is also a devoted family man, to get personal and tell us what he wants for his children. Here, he shares his letter to them."

    I'm sure he has had very private conversations with his daughters. However, many people may wonder what his concerns are regarding putting his daughters in a very public life.

    He simply gave a response to a personal question in the form of a letter.

    January 14, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Barack Obama is a fine man. He will be a good President because
    it's written in his stars.....that's why he won, he is the Chosen one
    to lead the United States of America at this point in our lives. To those who are still with hatred and anger....wake up....learn forgiveness
    and give him and our country the chance to move on. From a teacher
    in Illinois

    January 14, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Erika, KS

    Whatever! This is not news. Fathers and mothers go to work everyday. Obama is NOT special! I am sick of these non-news clips from CNN. Report some news for once, will you?

    January 14, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. Sara in VA

    This cracks me up. What other position could be MORE about "being all about me" and about being "successful:? What other job besides President will allow him to "get the things" that he wants?

    His attempt at trying to appear self-sacrificial makes me fall down on the floor laughing.

    January 14, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. Joyce Becker

    I am going to make sure that my grandchildren read this letter as it is meant for all of the children of America and of the world. How wonderful to have a president who can put his thoughts into words in such a thoughtful manner,

    January 14, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. JJ12345

    Anonymous January 14th, 2009 12:47 pm ET

    Barack Obama is a fine man. He will be a good President because
    it's written in his stars…..that's why he won, he is the Chosen one
    to lead the United States of America at this point in our lives. To those who are still with hatred and anger….wake up….learn forgiveness
    and give him and our country the chance to move on. From a teacher
    in Illinois
    ___________________________________________________
    Oh please. I dont necessarily disagree with some of this. I am sure he is a fine man, but really "written in the stars?" Learn forgiveness? Yes after all the respect that everyone has shown Bush. As much as I disagree with Bush he is a President. If nothing, that deserves respect.

    January 14, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  15. Susan - Niles

    I think those who are saying "why the letter and why make it public" just don't get it. This letter is not only to his daughters but to every child.
    I plan on sharing it with my grandchildren. Sure, he could have just told them his feelings in spoken words, which I'm sure he does everyday. But 10, 20, 50 years from now his children will have this beautiful letter to look back on and remember what a great Dad they have and share it with their children.

    January 14, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  16. JJ12345

    Steve B January 14th, 2009 12:46 pm ET

    I think when all is said and done, Obama will be one of the great leaders the world has ever seen, he is the right person for the job.
    ____________________________________________________
    You have absolutely nothing to base that on. I wish him luck and hope he serves our country well.

    January 14, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  17. Debi

    All of the people with Negative comments are people who Do Not have young girls. I do. Girls Love letters. My son has a Life Threatening disease. He wrote a letter to his father when he was 9.
    His father Never wrote back. Stop being so Hateful ,none of this is about you anyway. I am Proud to have Mr, Obama as our President.

    January 14, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. Gina - California

    We have a great man that is working to change our nation, to try to make right what has been destroyed. We still have people in this nation who are so negative and their hearts filled with ugliness. No matter how great Obama is, those people who choose to be ugly will never be happy or satisfied. It would be best that those people just keep quiet. There are those of us who look up and are seeing the positive in Obama. We will work with him to make our nation a better one. I see more positive in him than I have in many other presidents. Be still all you negative people.

    January 14, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. chuck

    AL@ ARE YOU DREAMING? THIS IS NOT GEORGE BUSH.

    January 14, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. Bible

    Anything "Obama's" is the Bible, for mankind, right?

    January 14, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. George in SF

    "Simply beautiful"…gush, gush

    "I am going to cry!" …..gush, gush

    "…..you have to admit he has integrity and is a great dad" ….gush, gush

    Ad nauseam…………

    What's the matter with you people? Are you so mesmerized that you can't recognize a self-serving publicity stunt when you see it? If this piece were "so genuine" it would be meant for the girls alone and we wouldn't even be reading it!

    Get a grip.

    January 14, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. Phil

    Laali, if you had actually read the Parade article (a link to which is included in the ticker post), you would have read:

    "PARADE asked the President-elect, who is also a devoted family man, to get personal and tell us what he wants for his children. Here, he shares his letter to them."

    It's not as if he wrote the letter then came up with the idea to publicize it. In terms of "uninformed," who's uninformed now? Aside from the fact that I'm an Obama supporter with a Masters degree in Communications (specialization – Latin American Political Rhetoric).

    As for those asking why a letter and why not just talk to them, a letter allows someone to ensure they say everything they want to say, whereas conversation can leave holes. It also allows the girls to revisit it from time to time.

    All in all, Mr. Obama is a very caring, sensitive, and intelligent man and that is certainly a welcome change from the past 8 years of idiocy we've had to deal with.

    January 14, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Gerda Edwards

    "none of this is about you anyway."

    Debi, you're right – he wrote it as a public letter for what can be no other reason than to continue his "all about ME" attitude. So by definition, it's about Obama, not us. Or at least that is what he intended.

    January 14, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Sweetie

    I wonder how many speech writers worked on it for him?

    January 14, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. Geri overseas

    It would seem to me that the American public would be heartened by this gesture whether it imitates another leader or not – our kids (for most of us) keep us true. When we can lie and act in other ways without integrity to others, most people I know try to keep the promises they make to their kids – well I do. I think PEBO's letter should be seen not just as a letter to his kids, but to all kids, and therefore a good way for him to make a promise and commit to keeping it.

    Some of you seem so blinded by the political rhetoric and your 'set in stone' positions, you have lost the ability to reason through the things which are put before you.

    I am not saying accept it wholesale, but you should be able to 'reason'.

    January 14, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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