When it comes to raising kids, former President Bill Clinton thinks the Obamas are "doing it well," and that the "American people should never begrudge one minute that the president joins the first lady in being a parent, because it will create space in his mind and his heart to be a better president."
In a conversation with Sway on Thursday, the former chief executive of the United States openly shared his thoughts on the joys and stresses of being a presidential parent — and what it might be like to be the Obamas' daughters, Malia,10, and Sasha, 7.
"The [Obama] girls are beautiful, and they are probably enjoying their fame," he said, "but as they move into adolescence, there will come a time when, in all probability, they will recoil from that and want to be people. They'll want to be free to grow and develop without the public spotlight."
Clinton had nothing but praise for the school Sasha and Malia are attending, Sidwell Friends, a private Quaker school where Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, was also a student while her father was president.
"It'll be an integrated school, not just by race, but by religion and by economics," he said. "They won't grow up ignorant of poverty, and when they get in junior high school, they'll have to do community service as a part of their education — so I think it'll keep them grounded, [and they will know] that not everybody lives the way they and their friends do."
Clinton said that the typical stresses of being a parent can have an effect on how well you're leading the country. "If you fail at parenthood, it eats you up inside. When your kids are not doing well, you can't think about anything. And when your kids are doing fine, you can take any misfortune personally, and you do fine.
"I think the fact that [the Obamas] clearly are striving for balance in their lives — you know they go off to Camp David every weekend, they have their friends from Chicago come stay with them, and they are spending time with their girls — I think that's important."
As far as his own daughter is concerned, Clinton feels that Chelsea, who lived in the White House from the age of 13 until leaving to attend Stanford University, was treated fairly well by the media.
"I could count on one hand, and have fingers left over, the times that [while] she was going through her awkward stage, the times she was subject to exposure when she didn't really want to be," he said.
"One of the things that I will be forever grateful for is that, by and large, the media, when I was president, respected my daughter's need for privacy," said Clinton. "If she wanted to go out in public with Hillary and me, they covered her. But they weren't intrusive."