SOUTH LOOP — Michelle Obama took the stage on the second and final day of the Obama Summit Wednesday with a message to parents about the importance of adults acting like adults for the sake of kids.
In a conversation with poet and friend Elizabeth Alexander, Obama started with an ode to her own parents, Fraser and Marian Robinson. The hourlong talk covered her own struggles of being a parent in the White House and included advice to other families.
“Our egos have to be checked in a very powerful way. We have to get out of the way. Our egos, our hatred, our jealousy, we have to push that down because we are all adults,” Obama said. “If we can do that, we’ll get this all right.”
She talked about how her parents didn’t shelter her as a young black girl growing up on the South Side and how important that was in allowing her to develop her own voice and speak up about what she thought was right.
“The notion that a 5-year-old wouldn’t have feelings about how their lives went wasn’t something my parents considered in our household,” Obama said. “You can’t shush them because you don’t agree with them.”
She said she knew that she would always have her parents there to back her up when she did take risks. But she said she always was calculated about when she spoke up and lucky that she did not have social media to worry about growing up.
“You don’t just say what’s on your mind; you don’t tweet every thought. Most initial thoughts aren’t worthy of the light of day,” Obama said. “Tweeting and social media — that is a powerful weapon that we just hand over to little kids.”
She said one of the things she’s learned as a busy parent is to give herself moments to reconnect to how she’s feeling about things and what she needs. She said that was a lot easier in the regimented life in the White House where there were schedulers on hand to help sort out her days, often a year in advance.
“I’m very ruthlessly efficient, but I have to be organized about me,” Obama said. “How do I want my life to flow first? That’s what I put on the calendar, and then what’s left is for everyone else — oh yeah, and Barack is on there, too.”
Prodded by Alexander to name the art she turned to for inspiration and consolation, Obama continually gave credit to her parents, who were sitting in the room.
But begrudgingly after more prodding, Obama said the musical “Hamilton” is currently her favorite work of art.
"Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda also is attending the summit.