In a sweet open letter to Sasha and Malia Obama posted on Time, former First Daughters Barbara Bush and Jenna Bush Hager shared a bit of advice to the girls as they leave the White House with their parents next week.
The Bush twins got to experience the White House at two stages of their lives: as children, when their grandfather George H.W. Bush held the office, and as young adults at 19, when their father George W. Bush first took office following the 2000 election. So they spoke firsthand about what the Obama girls have to look forward to as former first daughters in their college years.
“You are about to join another rarified club, one of former First Children—a position you didn’t seek and one with no guidelines,” they wrote. “But you have so much to look forward to. You will be writing the story of your lives, beyond the shadow of your famous parents, yet you will always carry with you the experiences of the past eight years.”
Remember the people who worked at the White House, they said. “Our greeter as 7-year-olds at our grandfather’s Inauguration was Nancy, the White House florist, who ushered us in from the cold. She helped us make colorful bouquets of winter flowers for our grandparents’ bedside. Twenty years later, Nancy did the flowers for Jenna’s wedding. Cherish your own Nancy.”
“We stay in touch with our Secret Service. They were part of growing up for us: there for first dates, first days and even an engagement and a honeymoon. We know it wasn’t always easy—the two of you and the two of us were teenagers trailed by men in backpacks—but they put their lives on hold for us.”
And definitely “enjoy college. As most of the world knows, we did. And you won’t have the weight of the world on your young shoulders anymore. Explore your passions. Learn who you are. Make mistakes—you are allowed to. Continue to surround yourself with loyal friends who know you, adore you and will fiercely protect you. Those who judge you don’t love you, and their voices shouldn’t hold weight. Rather, it’s your own hearts that matter.
“Take all that you have seen, the people you have met, the lessons you have learned, and let that help guide you in making positive change. We have no doubt you will. “
“You have lived through the unbelievable pressure of the White House,” they finished their letter. “You have listened to harsh criticism of your parents by people who had never even met them. You stood by as your precious parents were reduced to headlines. Your parents, who put you first and who not only showed you but gave you the world. As always, they will be rooting for you as you begin your next chapter. And so will we.”
Read the full letter here.
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