The Children of Barack Obama

Barack Obama met Michelle Robinson in 1989, a year after she graduated from Harvard Law School and had barely started her legal career. She left law to work in academia and for nonprofits after they married in 1992, while also raising their two children and eventually becoming First Lady.

Discover how Michelle and Barack raised their children in this article. 

Malia Ann Obama

Portrait of Barack Obama's daughter Malia Ann Obama

Malia Obama, who was born in Chicago in 1998, joined her father, Barack Obama, in the White House after he was elected President of the United States in 2008. Before enrolling at Harvard University in 2017, she went to Sidwell Friends School with her younger sister, Sasha, and went on international trips with her parents. Since then, Obama has pursued her interests in television and filmmaking.

Early Years

Malia Ann Obama was born at the University of Chicago Medical Center on July 4, 1998. Her father, Barack Obama, was an Illinois state senator and law professor, and her mother, Michelle Obama, was the University of Chicago’s associate dean of student services.

Malia, who grew up in the middle-class Hyde Park neighborhood with her younger sister Sasha, tried to overcome an early diagnosis of asthma to enjoy an active childhood filled with soccer, swim, and flute lessons. However, her world soon expanded beyond Chicago with her father’s election to the United States Senate in 2004. She was getting a taste of the campaign trail during Barack’s presidential bid in 2007.

Life as First Daughter

Malia Ann Obama was only ten years old when her father was elected the 44th president of the United States in November 2008. She spent much of her remaining adolescence and adolescence in the confines of the White House.

According to Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming, the president and first lady tried to keep their daughters grounded while adjusting to life in a mansion with a swimming pool, bowling alley, and a slew of aides. 

The Obama girls participated in typical activities such as class trips, summer camp, and high school proms, albeit under the watchful eye of Secret Service protection. Malia, also known as Radiance, learned to drive from her security detail.

In addition to the annual trip to Hawaii to spend Christmas with relatives, Malia was with her family on international trips to Russia, Asia, and South America. She met world leaders such as Pope Benedict XVI and Nelson Mandela. During her father’s state visit to Cuba in 2016, she famously assisted him in communicating with their hosts in Spanish.

While the media was discouraged mainly from focusing on the presidential daughters during their time in the White House, Malia and Sasha were named to Time magazine’s list of the 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014.

Education

Malia was accepted to the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., in early 2009, after joining the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. She followed in the footsteps of fellow first children such as Chelsea Clinton. She was a member of the soccer, tennis, swim teams, and the school chorus until she graduated from Sidwell Friends in June 2016.

Malia Ann Obama enrolled at Harvard University for the fall 2017 semester after taking a gap year. She traveled to South America with friends and to Indonesia with her parents. Although she was named a Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize winner for excellent undergraduate work and excellence in the art of teaching before her graduation in 2021, little is known about her time at Harvard.

Sasha Obama

Portrait of Barack Obama's daughter Sasha Obama

Sasha Obama, born in 2001 to then-Illinois state senator, became the White House’s youngest resident since the children of John F. Kennedy following her father’s election as President of the United States in 2008. Sasha played basketball at the prestigious Sidwell Friends School and traveled abroad with her parents and older sister, Malia, during the two-term Obama administration before enrolling at the University of Michigan in 2019.

Early Years

Natasha Marian Obama was born in Chicago, Illinois, on June 10, 2001. Her father, Barack Obama, was an Illinois state senator. Her mother, Michelle Obama, was about to start a job as executive director of community affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Following a meningitis scare as a child, the younger Obama daughter grew to be a healthy, active child. Sasha remained in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood with her mother and big sister, Malia, after following her father’s election to the United States Senate in 2004. She attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and kept busy with piano, tennis, gymnastics, and tap dance lessons.

Sasha Obama was already a household name as her ambitious father campaigned for the presidency of the United States in 2007. In July 2008, she made her first television appearance as part of an Access Hollywood segment on the candidate’s family, though her parents later regretted including their children in the interview.

Life as First Daughter

Sasha Obama had become the youngest White House resident since 2-month-old John F. Kennedy Jr. and 3-year-old Caroline Kennedy in 1961 when Barack was elected the 44th president of the United States in November 2008.

Sasha and Malia resolved into life in the Executive Mansion under the watchful eye of their maternal grandmother, Marian Robinson, after receiving a personal tour of their new home from the outgoing presidential daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush. The president and first lady kept a campaign promise by giving their daughters a Portuguese Water Dog named Bo and establishing a set of ground rules that included no TV and no Facebook.

Sasha Obama enjoyed normal childhood activities like sleepovers and class trips while being shielded from the media and carefully guarded by Secret Service agents who assigned her the code name Rosebud. She also formed a close friendship with Maisy Biden, the granddaughter of then-Vice President Joe Biden. Nonetheless, she was included in official presidential business on occasion, from the August 2010 photo op that desired to portray the Gulf of Mexico as safe following the BP oil spill to international trips that took her to the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, and the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

Sasha Obama began trying to prove more of an independent personality by starting her father’s second term. No longer willing to join formal White House events like the annual pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey, she became a disciple of cooking shows and the White House residential kitchen with her friends. As a sports fan, she attended the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Vancouver, Canada, with Vice President Biden and Maisy.

Sasha Obama attended her first State Dinner in March 2016. She was photographed receiving a thumbs-up from Malia while conversing with heartthrob actor Ryan Reynolds. She hit her first job at a popular Martha’s Vineyard seafood restaurant that summer.

Education

Sasha enrolled in Sidwell Friends School in January 2009, a personal Quaker organization that had previously worked with the children of Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore.

Sasha became a competitive swimmer at Sidwell but excelled at basketball; President Obama famously assisted in coaching his younger daughter’s hoops team to a league title during the 2011-12 school year, before being forced to step aside due to negative attention from other parents. Sasha Obama, who is also involved in the performing arts, was one of the D.C.-area children chosen to perform with the Moscow Ballet in a production of The Nutcracker in late 2012.

Sasha caused a stir after graduating from Sidwell Friends in June 2019 by preceding the allure of an Ivy League education and admission to the University of Michigan. She spent her sophomore year of 2020-21 at home with the rest of her family, remotely attending classes and tempting her parents with midnight baking sessions, like many other students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.