Barack Obama on all the things he admires about daughters Malia and Sasha

The former president talks about his wife and daughter's best qualities in a new interview with InStyle.
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Barack Obama released his new memoir this week.The White House / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Former President Barack Obama says his wife and two daughters have helped shape the man he is today.

The 59-year-old, who released his new memoir “A Promised Land” this week, opens up about his admiration for the three most important women in his life in a new interview with InStyle.

When asked to name the "most badass thing" about Michelle, Malia and Sasha, Obama lavished praise on all three women, saying "They all have multiple badass qualities."

Former President Barack Obama covers the latest issue of InStyle magazine.Shaniqwa Jarvis / Instyle

The former president began by describing his wife of 28 years.

"I think people know Michelle well enough to know how amazing she can be as a public speaker," he said.

"They probably are less aware of what it’s like to work out with Michelle when she’s really in her groove. And sometimes that includes her boxing. You don’t want to get in the way when she’s working on a bag — including some kicks. There’s force there."

The Obamas have been married for 28 years.Ron Sachs / Getty Images

Obama then moved on to his youngest daughter, Sasha, 19, and said he admires her independence and commitment to her own views.

"Sasha is, as Malia describes it, completely confident about her own take on the world and is not cowed or intimidated — and never has been — by anybody’s titles, anybody’s credentials. If she thinks something’s wrong or right, she will say so," he said.

The proud father then went on to recall one example of how his daughter has always been strong-willed.

"When she was 4, 5, 6 years old, once she made a decision, she would dig in and couldn’t be steered off it. I write about it in the book, how we were trying to get her to taste caviar when we were visiting Russia," he said. "She was like, 'No. Sorry. That looks slimy. It’s nasty. I’m not going to do it — even if I’ve got to give up dessert.' And that part of her character has always been there."

Last, but certainly not least, Obama praised his eldest daughter Malia, 22, for her joyful personality.

"And Malia, she is just buoyant. She’s somebody who enjoys people, enjoys life, and enjoys conversation. She’s never bored, which is a badass quality that can take you places," he said.

A family portrait from 2011. Pete Souza / Getty Images

The former president also opens up about his relationship with his mother, Ann Dunham, who died in 1995, in the new memoir. In an excerpt shared with InStyle, Obama describes how his mother gave him a strong moral compass.

"Once, when she discovered I had been part of a group that was teasing a kid at school, she sat me down in front of her, lips pursed with disappointment," he recalled.

His mother went on to explain that there are people who don't care about others' feelings and then there are others who "are able to imagine how others must feel, and make sure that they don’t do things that hurt people."

"'So,' she said, looking me squarely in the eye. 'Which kind of person do you want to be?'" he wrote. "I felt lousy. As she intended it to, her question stayed with me for a long time."