Obama says poor relatives keep his kids grounded
August 1st, 2013
08:03 AM ET
9 months ago

Obama says poor relatives keep his kids grounded

(CNN) – Their home has its own bowling alley, movie theatre, and chef.

But while living in the White House could leave Sasha and Malia Obama with a distorted sense of how Americans live, their father says he's always conveying to his daughters how abnormal their situation really is.

"We are constantly reminding Malia and Sasha of the slightly unreal environment that they're in, and that that's not the norm and they shouldn't expect to be the norm," President Barack Obama said in an interview for the Amazon Kindle store.

Having relatives who don't live like the commander-in-chief – and even struggle to get by – has kept his children grounded, Obama said.

"One of the advantages we have is that we still have family members who are not only middle class, but we've got some family members who are poor," he told Amazon editor David Blum. "Malia and Sasha have cousins who know what it's like to struggle and know what it's like to have to scrape by. They know that those kids are just as worthy as they are, they just haven't had as much luck."

Obama, who spoke at an Amazon.com distribution plant in Tennessee Tuesday, said that even kids who don't grow up in the White House have a distorted sense of wealth – a cultural shift, he said, from when he was young.

"If you look back on your childhood, or if I talk to my friends, all of us have that same impression when we go back home and we realize that the place where we were living was pretty small," he said. "These days people would say, 'How did you live in a place that small?' Well it didn't feel that small at the time. It was secure. It was stable."

A constant barrage of made-for-television wealth has changed what kids regard as normal lives, Obama said, so that traditional benchmarks of success – a home, job, education, health care, and retirement – are no longer deemed sufficient.

"There was not that window into the lifestyles of the rich and famous," he said. "Kids weren't monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing, or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    The Obama girls, just like Chelsea Clinton, are growing up to be well adjusted young ladies.
    I bet we won't be hearing about drinking binges or watching the "twins" go drinking and carousing around DC.

    August 1, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    Fortune turns like a wheel.

    August 1, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  3. Daniel D Janson

    It is good he informs his kids how lucky they are with their tax payer paid vacations. I am sure it was done while eating ice cream in hawaii or in africa while daddy was pledging billions, or while daddy sent this message from his busy golf session.

    It is so wonderful to see a man in power with such insight and compassion. I truly can see how his followers kneel to his powerful charisma and charm! Hope he does another executive order for a third run at emperorship --oops ,leadership--oops, president, got it!,

    August 1, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  4. Just a thought

    Not really a story for the political ticker...right CNN? But heck I would anticipate the GOP/Tea Trolls on this board won't hesitate to take a swipe as these two wonderful girls and the President of course. Nothing says hate, racism and ignorance the GOP/Tea knuckle draggers....So let's get ready in 5,4,3,2,1...Let the hate begin

    August 1, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  5. tom l

    @Just a thought
    Oh, and have you seen the reports here on CNN about the massive scams going on ripping off taxpayers? Perhaps that might be an indication of why I don't trust the govt. The govt is too big. Period.

    August 1, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    A great man, President and father.

    August 1, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  7. Just a thought

    The first daughters don't deserve the hatred and insults from the GOP/Tea Troll mouth breathers. We have all heard every insult for this President for the past 5 years....Now is Sasha and Malia's turn huh CNN?

    August 1, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "These days people would say, 'How did you live in a place that small?' Well it didn't feel that small at the time. It was secure. It was stable."

    I remember when my brothers and I sold our parent's home after they both died ... the home we each thought was heaven at the time my mom and dad bought it. All we heard from the realtor was "what a small house this is ... people don't want these small houses anymore". I agree with President Obama. It was stable. It was secure. It was filled with love. And both my parent's worked their butts off to keep us in it. For that I am truly grateful. And the things my folks kept over the years ... their private status of success ... were amazing to look back on. I suspect those things had much to do with being born Depression-era babies.

    August 1, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  9. Hector Slagg

    OK,
    But who are you trying to convince, me or you? The average person has to stay grounded or totally fail. And it looks like the failures are winning.

    August 1, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    My paycheck keeps me grounded! LOL!

    August 1, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. Marie MD

    @daniel, your rethugs/teatrolls are leaving DC for a whole month of vacation being paid by the taxpayers for not only doing as little as possible but for only rehashing already passed legislation.
    You don't seem to have a problem with that. Did you have a problem with the shrub #43 sending 1/3 of his presidency on vacation? What about Reagan and his CA ranch? Nixon to Florida? Shrub#41 to Maine?
    Seems to me like the Clintons didn't have a real home or didn't own a summer house anywhere. The same goes for the Obamas..

    August 1, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I think our childhood homes always look smaller when seen through our eyes as adults.
    Something to do with perspective perhaps.
    It would be interesting to know if those that grew up in multi-million dollar homes experience the same when they revisit their childhood homes as adults.
    And I do agree that for most of us those homes were filled with mementos and love.

    August 1, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. Jbawild1

    Why is it that socialist dems like obama never practice what they preach and spread the wealth to their own family? They are all super hypocrites, they get wealthy off of tax payers and the book deals, then tell us that we need to give more of our hard earned money, he needs to give up his wealth to his family and friends that struggle and stop asking us to. All politicians are out for their power and wealth, none of them give a dam about us.

    August 1, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. Blake

    @Just A Thought
    Why is it whenever anyone disagrees with a position you (or the president) has, it makes them racist/bigot/homophobe/sexist? I do not like this presidents policies at all, but that does not mean I hate the man. It sounds like he is doing a wonderful job raising his two wonderful girls. From what I have seen, he seems to be a great husband and father honestly that is far more important (in my mind) than his success/failure as a president. I hope that he continues to teach and guide his girls throughout their lives and that they realize how lucky they are to have a loving and involved father in their lives. Unfortunatly, fewer and fewer seem to have that advantage now days.

    August 1, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Hector Slagg wrote:

    OK, But who are you trying to convince, me or you? The average person has to stay grounded or totally fail. And it looks like the failures are winning.
    ----------------
    Could Hector be talking about Republicans winning back total control of Congress?

    August 1, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. Sniffit

    "It is good he informs his kids how lucky they are with their tax payer paid vacations. I am sure it was done while eating ice cream in hawaii or in africa while daddy was pledging billions, or while daddy sent this message from his busy golf session.

    It is so wonderful to see a man in power with such insight and compassion. I truly can see how his followers kneel to his powerful charisma and charm! Hope he does another executive order for a third run at emperorship –oops ,leadership–oops, president, got it!,"

    The conservative echo chamber is a dark and lonely place.

    August 1, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. Fair is Fair

    "your rethugs/teatrolls are leaving DC for a whole month of vacation being paid by the taxpayers for not only doing as little as possible but for only rehashing already passed legislation."
    ------–
    And the D's are hanging around? Nah... they're going on vacay too.

    August 1, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  18. jpmichigan

    QUESTIONS #1 How often do your daughters socialize with their so called poor relatives? #2 Why didn't your children spend more time with your grandmother before she died? If family is important to you Mr. President, why didn't your daughter have more time with your relative, only with your wife family?

    August 1, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  19. Fair is Fair

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I think our childhood homes always look smaller when seen through our eyes as adults.
    -------
    Was just at the house I grew up in last weekend... when I looked in my old bedroom, all I could say was "how in the world did we fit 3 twin beds in here?" Then there was the mystery of how a family of 10 "survived" with 1 full and 1 half bath...

    August 1, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Daniel D Janson
    I won't waste my time pointig out the obvious to you.
    Perhaps you think that THIS President should NOT take vacations with his family like all other Presidents have.
    You're part of the crowd that has a coronary just thinking about him and his family being flown around Air Force One.
    How uppity of him right Daniel? How dare he? How dare your fellow Americans, for that matter elect someone that looks like him?
    Hey Daniel were you one of those one-cell morons that pulled their kids out of school on the day when he wanted to give a televised speech to school children? Sure you were.
    It warms my heart to no end to think that you and others like you have had their most unimaginable nightmare come true: a BLACK President.

    August 1, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. Lizzie

    Marie, what a colorful language, you did not have a problem during the reign of the Democrats, to leave DC for extended periods, you did not have a problem when King Reid refused to extend the session, because he had to go to Arizona to supervise his illegals on how to plant flowers. So Pres.Regan and Pres.Bush OWNED their ranches, thus saving the taxpayers millions on rents. As the British put it, our Royal Family costs less then your President traveling back and forth from Hawaii.

    August 1, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  22. Just a thought

    @ tom I

    You need to look at the facts...as Sniffet says "the numbers don't lie" If you are whining for a smaller government, the President Obama is your hero. That "F News" crapola and those Tea Trolls talking points are easily debunked if one looks at facts. I would expect if you have the ability to read trends, facts and are well reasoned – fair minded person, you will switch the party of clowns to the movement of intelligent progressives that are tired of the lies of the GOP, but ready to get this country moving and working again for everyone...regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, religion or lack-thereof, or financial means. Time for you to leave the dark side and come into the glorious light....welcome

    August 1, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. Just a thought

    Fair is Fair

    "your rethugs/teatrolls are leaving DC for a whole month of vacation being paid by the taxpayers for not only doing as little as possible but for only rehashing already passed legislation."
    --–
    And the D's are hanging around? Nah... they're going on vacay too

    ---
    I'm waiting on you to move over to the D's "fair"...........There is no way an intelligent person like you can continue to defend the stupidity of the "R's" In fact if for that similarity only....I have never seen such idiocy as there is in the current clowns called the GOP/Tea Troll. Let's take your statement above. The D's are leaving for recess after attempting to accomplish something, the R's are leaving town feeling they've done their jobs by making sure nothing was accomplished. Can you switch parties now please?

    August 1, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Was just at the house I grew up in last weekend... when I looked in my old bedroom, all I could say was "how in the world did we fit 3 twin beds in here?" Then there was the mystery of how a family of 10 "survived" with 1 full and 1 half bath...
    -------------------------------------------------Seems to be an experience you all share Fair.
    I visited my childhood home in Santo Domingo after a 32 year absence.... you haven't seen small!

    August 1, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Pardo. That should've been " Seems to be an experience WE all share Fair".

    August 1, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
1 2 3