'Mom-in-Chief' Michelle Obama Recruits Mother to Serve as 'First Granny'

11/12/2008 at 11:30 AM ET
Jim Bourg/Reuters/Landov

As Michelle Obama prepares to take on the title of First Lady, she has a lot of decisions to make in the weeks to come. Her top priority, though? Caring for daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, of course. According to the Sunday Telegraph, Michelle has recruited her mother, 71-year-old Marian Robinson, to leave her home on the South Side of Chicago and move into the White House with the first family. It’s reportedly the first time in history that three generations of a new presidential family have moved together to Washington, D.C. Michelle, who is an attorney, has vowed not to work while in D.C., instead focusing her energies on her First Lady duties and her daughters’ needs.

Before moving in January, though, Michelle and her husband, President-elect Barack Obama, must chose a D.C.-area school for their daughters. The family is reportedly leaning toward one of three private schools in the city’s metro area, and has contacted past First Families, including the Clintons, to seek advice. Though the Obama girls will face the daily pressures of class and homework, they also have a lot of perks ahead: decorating their bedrooms with whatever colors and furniture they desire, enjoying the White House cinema, swimming pool and bowling alley…and possibly guest starring on the hit Disney Channel show Hannah Montana!

Sources: Sunday Telegraph; People.com

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 57 comments

Crafty Mom on

I still can’t believe Obama won, so amazing. Just having small children as part of the “first family” makes the role of the president seam so different – more tied to the average person. Especially with Michelle’s mother moving into the white house, this really defines community.

Susan on

I grew up in D.C. and I think they will go to Sidwell Friends. It is a self contained campus. The school building is in the middle of a large property, so it is well equipped to deal with high security. And they have everything right there. Athletics, cafeteria, library, school buildings and a large secruity office. They are also used to having high profile children. In addition to Chelsea Clinton, a lot of senators and other high ranking officials have sent their children there. It is known for a strict cirriculum, with excellent academics, small class size and a good (though not great) athletic program.

Mom2boys on

I think that is wonderful.
While I am not in complete agreement with the president-elects views, I have to say both him and his wife seem to be doing an outstanding job at raising their two beautiful daughters. I think it is very dear that their grandmother is coming with them to add some comfort during a time that is undoubtedly a big upheaval in their lives.

ellen on

while i’m still sad that obama won, i think it’s nice to focus on family instead of career.

SweetDiva on

I think that’s a wonderful idea! This will be a difficult transition for the girls so as much familiarity and comfort as possible will be necessary. What a great way to keep the family ties strong!

Jen on

I know I wouldn’t be able to survive without my mother helping me out–good to see that someone as put together and successful as Michelle feels the same way!

brannon on

I really respect their family values and think it’s wonderful that “granny” will be joining them in DC. How special for all of them! Almost seems strange that this is the first time! Can’t wait to see this family representing America in the White House.

Dawn on

I’m not sad Obama won. I would have been open minded to whoever won. I think it’s a good idea letting her mom move in with them. take a little piece of home with her to the white house. LOL! good luck and congrats to the family.

Kara on

I pretty sure they will got to “Sidwell Friends.” I am happy they Mrs.Obama is going to continue to make sure they get the best education.

Jill on

I’m shocked that someone who spent so much emphasis on improving public schools and talked about how great they were is sending them to private. I suppose his girls a quiet the exception but at least for PR purposes he should be at least checking a few public out as well.

marlee on

I’m in DC as well. I’m quite sure the girls will attend Sidwell.

lulululu on

I don’t think it is reasonable to expect the president to be able to send his children to a public school due to security issues. It is an ugly fact that cannot be ignored. The infrastructure to secure an existing public school must have more financial, logistical, and ultimately cultural costs. I don’t know anything about it, just guessing.

Angi R Dudas on

Jill, I think it is an issue of safety. Let’s be honest. He is the first black President, so he is aware that his children could be targets for hateful acts. I don’t blame President-Elect Obama and his wife for making the choice to put those beautiful girls in private school. He was a father first and it seems those girls are his world.

Onyx Jones on

Security wise it would not make sense for The Obama girls to go to public schools. The DC public schools are in such disarray and the level of education is sub-par at best. The Obama girls attend private school in Chicago, so now that the Obama’s are moving into the White House Sidwell Friends would be the logical choice. I am a native Washingtonian and I have been educated in the public and private school systems.

For those Americans that are sad that Barack Obama won, I look forward to President Obama changing this country for the better. This election was bigger than Obama or McCain will ever be. This election was about unity!!

Kerri on

I just adore this family. They seem like such a genuine and loving family and I’m thrilled they’ll be the First Family (and that Obama won, for that matter!)

I also agree with those that point out that public school probably isn’t an option for the security, etc, that these girls need.

Destiny on

Maybe they didn’t get the memo when I said that I would be happy to be thier nanny for the next 4 to 8 years. I mean, I don’t have much experience since I’m an accountant and all, but I think it could have worked. Oh well. Who needs a nanny when you have good ole granny.

I also agree with the others that said that it would be pretty hard to send his girls to public school because of security issues. I wouldn’t risk the safety of my children to try to prove anything.

Anyway, they are beautiful girls and I hope they adjust well to their new life in DC.

HavingOurSay on

This is the reality in so many families and I am great to see the involvement of grandparents being addressed. Michelle and her mother and the family are obviously very close and I think that is gret to see.

natasha on

I thought I heard on CNN this morning that Harry Truman’s mother-in-law lived in the white house as well. So that would make the Obamas the second first family to have three generations living in the white house. But to be honest, CNN was in the background while I was dealing with a cranky 5 month old..so I could have heard wrong.

But I am happy for the Obama family that Grandma will around!

TinkiWinki on

I think it would be best if celebrity sites didn’t discuss or stalk these girls. I found it distasteful when celebrity sites posted about the Bush twins and Chelsea. They are not the children of a celebrity. They are the children of the President. Please leave them alone.

Also I do think it’s hypocritical for men like Obama to preach the importance of public schools for poor people, yet not allow his own kids to go to them. Of course, private schools are better for Obama’s kids and they’d be better for everyone’s kids, yet Obama supports the poor kids of DC staying in awful public schools. FYI, DC schools spend over 13000 per child (the highest in the nation) and have the worst schools. Money is not the answer. I would bet the farm that if Obama’s daughters went to a public school, he would insist on more accountability and school choice. As a rich person, though, he doesn’t have to worry about it. Chicago schools are awful too and the teachers make a ton of money and work the fewest days in the nation, but his daughters went to private schools there too so what does he care?

He may change the world as president, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll do anything substantial to change the educational choices for the poor and middle class because he can’t say no to the teachers unions. Too bad.

amy on

I agree with the others that you have to remember security of their children – and a private school can best provide that, even if Obama talks up education reform.

I also heard Arnold Schwarzennegger (a staunch Republican) said we all need to support the new president because if he is successful, we are successful; if we are successful, the U.S. is successful; and if the U.S. is successful, the world is successful. A good point I think.

Liz on

TinkiWinki – Just because Barack & Michelle choose to place their children in a private education system, does not mean that he dose not care about the public school system. Sasha & Malia are in the public’s eye now, and perhaps going to a private school is a safer choice for them. It is not hypocritical at all for them to choose to have their children attend private school.

Elizabeth on

I am still in awe that Obama won, I cry every time I think about it! ANd yes, I am a public school teacher, but am not offended that the girls would go to private school. IT makes sense, if not only for security purposes. They are absolutely beautiful girls.

Lily on

TinkiWinki,

The safety of the girls is what matters most and attending a public school will not give them the security they need. If that makes him a hypocrite, I think he’s a damn smart one, then. As far as making assumptions as to what he will or won’t do for public schools, let’s wait until he gets into office.

Also, curiousity about the first family is nothing new. Think about the Kennedys. No, I don’t think they should be followed every place they go and have their every move caught on camera but I have no control over that. Royal families aren’t celebrities but everyone enjoys seeing pictures of them. I definitely don’t think this website has crossed any line of privacy and has actually highlighted the girls in a positive way.

Veroncia on

Sounds like TinkiWinki choice didn’t win…LOL

I think it’s awesome that Mrs. Robinson is coming along to help with the children. She is making a huge sacrafice to her personal life to be there to support her daugher, son-in-law, and grandchildren. America could learn a lesson or 100 about what family really is. I’m so looking forward to the next 8 (yeah I said it) years.

Just saying on

TinkiWinki, How would private schools be better for everyone’s child? Private schools teachers don’t always have to meet the same standards as public school teachers. And, maybe you are unaware, but there are some public schools just miles from the White House in VA and MD that are among the top schools in this nation and their graduates go on the universities like Yale & Harvard.

I agree with the most everyone on here, DC schools need a lot of work, and from what I can tell, the new superintendent is doing a complete overhaul of the whole system. I hope she is successful, she certainly is passionate about her job.

katey on

The Clintons were criticized for putting Chelsea in a private school, too. But ultimately it is the best choice for the girls. As long as they pay their taxes, they support public schools anyway, so what does it matter if their daughters don’t actually go to them? I think the Obamas understand that Malia and Sasha would actually be taking a space for a child who cannot afford a private education if they were to go into the public system, too.

Tam on

I love this family so much. It’s finally nice to have a real, down-to-earth first family move into the White House. I agree with putting them in private school just for better security.

Daria on

These girls should go to private school. The ones in DC are used to politicians’ children and are better equipped in terms of security and privacy as well as dealing with the secret service. To suggest the girls go to public school is ridiculous when the private ones would be much safer. Why compromise the girls’ safety?

meghan on

natasha – truman’s mother-in-law could very well have lived in the white house with him. however – his only child was already over 20 when he became president and did not live there with him…

J-Lin on

The Bush twins were adults (18) in college when George became President. I’m sorry but underaged drinkers caught makes the papers, let alone the President’s kids doing it.

Chelsea was not stalked and the media gave her plenty of privacy, even as adult. Most distasteful comments about her were made by Republican commentators.

I think most kids will enjoy seeing Malia and Sasha grow up in the White House. Especially African American children who get to see someone just like them.

I don’t know if you know any, but ask any Harvard trained lawyer if their kid goes to public school.

Friggin_Boobs on

Geeze, I thought private school for the children of Presidents was pretty much a no brainer.

Kay on

For what its worth, Carter’s daughter went to a public school in DC when he was president. Shew as, also, in elementary school.

Onyx Jones on

I would love for my future children to attend DC public schools since I love the city I was born in. But realistically, DC public schools 20-25 yrs ago are TOTALLY different now. I aunt retired from teaching in DC public schools after 40 yrs because she feared for her safety. She even returned to be a substitute and it was even worse. Yes, Chancellor Rhee has made major changes. But the structure of the school system is still flawed. Getting rid of older teachers and closing schools cannot make of for years of neglect to the buildings and the education materials the children need desperately.

LoveDC on

We welcome the Obama family and extended family to DC.

I as well am proud of our President-elect.

As for the schools, let us also remember the other children in the school and the distraction security and the very presence of the Obama girls within a DC Public School will cause to others learning. I believe in the public school system and there is a charter school which is regarded pretty high not far from the White House, but the students at Sidwell or Georgetown Day will not be as fazed by the security pressence which will also allow the girls as close to a normal (if possible) experience.

brannon on

So in order to avoid hypocrisy, he should deliberately send his children into the dangerous, failing schools he has vowed to help? Sounds fair to them. He and his wife have worked hard to provide the best for their children. He shouldn’t lose that right just because he has now dedicated his life to helping others reach the same heights.

MB on

Well besides it probably being safer for his girls to be in a private school that is already equipped to handle the security, the other kids at the school should be taken into account. Having those girls and their body guards is likely to be a real distraction at a public school where kids aren’t used to it. At one of the major private schools, where other students are used to increased security, the “first girls” are less likely to be a distraction.

Also, I’d like to disagree that private schools are ALWAYS better for EVERYONE. Every school, private, public, what have you, is different and as everyone learns differently, what is good for one student is not necessarily the best for another.

Kara on

@Kay

Guess what? Amy Carter could NOT play outside at recess becaues of security concerns!!!

THEY ALREADY GO TO PRIVATE SCHOOL!! Why are republicans suggesting they go to public school? What sense does that make? For them to go to PRIVATE then public!! Private school they will get a better education.

SAR on

Jill, there have already been threats made against Malia and Sasha’s lives by white supremacists, and neither Barack nor Michelle are naive. They know that while every President has had to face safety issues, both for himself and his family, Obama has the added threat of violent racists who are none too happy about a black man being President. So I can understand why he’d want the added security for his girls.

Kara on

@J Lin,

I agree what politician sends their kid to public school? I am not talking about 1 kid in 20 years. Why should Michelle say, “I am going to let my kids go to school in one of the worst public school districts, so poor Americans can like us.” That does not make sense to me. Why should they settle for less?

Kara on

Maret will also be a good private school. I hope the Obamas take the childrens best interest into account and NOT the publics opinion into account. This reminds me of 16 years ago with Chelsea.

terri on

Actually, I believe that there have been two previous mother-in-laws to occupy the White House. At least that’s what they said on CNN earlier.

I can’t wait to see the entire Obama/Robinson family living in the White House. They are a beautiful family and I believe that Barack Obama will be a great president. God bless them.

I don’t see why it matters whether the girls attend public or private school. Can’t the president commit to improving public schools while still sending his own children to private school? What’s hypocritical about that?

Rosy J on

While I would not advocate public schools for the fist children (the issues of safety being foremost), the amount of security necessary would make it virtual impossible. I believe that most public schools provide an adequate education for a lot of students. Parents are responsible for making sure that their child(ren)receive the best education possible. Ultimately, parential participation is the best way to insure that. When parents are involved and attend PTA conferences as well as making sure the children are making the grade, the public school system could see a drastic improvement on all levels. Parents must and should be present and accounted for. Private schools demand that the parents take part in their child(ren)’s development

After all my ranting, I would like to say how nice for grandmother to be with the family as caregiver. Nobody could do a better job in my opinion. I feel so proud as an american to see this great turn of events. I never thought that I would live to see this day. May almightly God continue to bless the Obama Family, bless all of us and bless the USA!

Just Saying on

Kara,

I mentioned VA & MD public schools because there are some children of politicians that go to those public schools. But, again, they are nothing like the schools in DC.

DiamondGirl on

That’s much better than leaving an older lady alone in Chicago without family – but I’m sure it’s been done before in history. Multiple generations living together was very common.

Lilly on

Public schools are public property which means it is harder to control who has access to the grounds. With Barack Obama being the first black President, there needs to be extra security (there have already been death threats to him and his family). In a private school, Secret Service have greater control and school officials can work with them rather than stick to public school rules that don’t necessary work for this extreme situation. You also can’t compare a senator or governor’s child going to a public school in an affluent neighborhood to the President’s children going to a public school in one of the worst school systems with a high crime rate. Just because his children need to attend private schools for security purposes, doesn’t mean he will stop caring about public schools. People are just nit-picking because they don’t like him or didn’t vote for him. Let’s get over that and focus on the important issues and at least give him a chance–he hasn’t even taken office yet!

Kudos to Mrs. Obama. She has given up a high-paying job and halted her career to focus on her children and her husband’s dream, and is now going to be living in a fishbowl and trying to protect her little ones. I don’t know if I could have done the same, but she deserves incredible respect for her dedication. Wonderful lady, wonderful family. It’s a great time to be alive and be a part of this :)

Sarita on

Amy said: “if the U.S. is successful, the world is successful” I think that is giving too much credit to your country.

I think it’s logical that the children go to a school with good security, if that’s a private school so be it.

Di on

In light of DC’s educational system and the need for security, I have no doubt that the Obamas will send their daughters to private school, most likely the same one Chelsea Clinton attended.
I know that Barack is a huge supporter of public schools but he is against vouchers b/c he and so many others feel that it takes away needed resources from public schools and unlike public schools, private schools can pick the best and the brightest which gives the public schools the task of educating the most difficult children.

Lastly, I do not think we should praise Michelle Obama’s decision to quit her job while her husband is president. She would not be the first woman to put her career ambitions on hold for her husband and children.

I think it is really sad that a woman with degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School will spend the next 4 or 8 years being nothing more than a glorified hostess which is what I think the First Lady does. I’m sure she’ll focus on children and education, instead of using her talents somewhere else.

I can’t wait for the day when there is woman president whose husband quits his job and career to stay home with the kids while his wife leads the free world.

sinclair on

preach on, Di!!!

We’ll have a female president soon enough. Michelle would be a great CIC!!

DLR on

I can understand a lot of people are not happy Obama won the election, but let’s face it, the USA and the world became a much worse place under a Republican government. I guess par the course for politics, it was “time” for a change, and really, it was a no-brainer considering how many Republicans crossed the floor to choose between Obama and McCain. As for the children attending private school in DC, again a no-brainer, especially since they already were in private schooling in Chicago. I think the Obama family has a lot to be concerned about security wise if that assassination attempt before the election was any indication. The Obamas need all the security and help they can get in DC, and it is wonderful to read that they will have Michelle’s mum to help out. Extended family is always a blessing, especially in stressful situations which the next four years are bound to be for the Obama family! Good luck to them all.

vivian on

that as one of the dummest questions, but this is the dumest of all so far. who cares that granny moves in or not. won’t they be rich enough to have nannies, why can’t mrs obammy raise them herself. yea, I’m not happy about the election at all.

Rayne on

I Cant believe how the people voted for him didnt see through his lies especially when he slipped up about his religion he IS NOT a Christian he IS A MUSLIM and why did he lie? He is a fake and whoever goes to church read the book of revelations and you will see who Obama really is he is the ANTICHRIST and he wants to mark us with a stupid chip well u know what if i had to choose death or the chip I would choose death Im not going to hell unlike the people who voted for him

Renee on

I think Obama is should send his kids to private school for security reasons alone. I think is is now irrelevant to dislike him, he is the president elect, he won. I like the fact that Michelle’s mother will be living with them. If they care that much about their family and it is that important to them, maybe mine will be important to him too. Kind of like a common ground. I like that fact she quit her job, no matter her education, to support her husband, that means her marriage is important to her, as mine is to me. Being a mother is important to her as it is to me. I feel if some one is in office that is more like me and others like me, he will work harder for all Americans in my situation. I know he got my vote.

ann sand on

who better to help out with the girls than their grandmother? Better her than paid nanny or staff….I could not have done it when my kids were small without my parents being loving caretakers when I had to travel for work. As Hillary said, “it takes a village.” This is especially true for working women, and being First Lady will be very demanding.

Rochelle on

Let me get this straight. You have people all over the world trying to submit their dog to the first family because they want their dog to be the first dog. But you have people that have problems with GRANDMA being there for the kid?

UNBELIEVEABLE!!!!!!!!!

SRD on

Moving in the mother is no big deal, Obama is going to set up a basketball goal somewhere on the south portico. What else do you expect?

vivian on

aww I see my comment didn’t make it, guess because I said this is another stupid question on the so called future first family. who cares if granny moves in. this is the dumest one of all so far.

Jasmine on

I am so happy and so proud Americans finally chose the best man for the job of President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

I love his family! I think the Obama girls will continue to be adorable and smart. They are a joy to watch.

While I support public education, I also support the Obamas right to choose. He cannot jeopardize the safety of his kids to satisfy what other people think he should do. I think the girls will attend Sidewell Friends because the school is equipped to handle the safety and security of the girls while providing excellent education opportunities. The Obamas have done a great job with their kids without our input, and think they can continue to handle it. I think having the granny near is a good idea, even if she’s not actually living in the white house. It may be better to have the granny living in a “regular” home to provide the girls with a regular lifestyle outside of the formalility of the white house.

advertisement

From Our Partners

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters