Exclusive: How Malia and Sasha Helped the President Kick His Smoking Habit

iVillage Guest Editor Michelle Obama says the president ultimately stopped smoking -- not because of pressure from her or the presidency -- but because of the girls.

We knew President Obama had ultimately quit smoking but we never really knew what motivated him to finally kick the habit. First Lady Michelle Obama, during our exclusive interview surrounding her week as iVillage's first-ever Guest Editor, said it wasn't pressure from her. It wasn't pressure from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue either or concerns about his own health. The motivation came from two young women: daughters Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11.

"I know that his ability to ultimately kick the habit was because of the girls, because they're at the age now where you can't hide," Mrs. Obama told me, as we chatted on her couch in her East Wing office, after she pushed off her shoes and got comfy. "I think that he didn't want to look his girls in the eye and tell them that they shouldn't do something that he was still doing." 

Watch more of our exclusive interview with Michelle Obama here:

 

 

As the president tried to quit, the first lady said there wasn't too much discussion at home. "When I knew that he was trying, we just didn't talk about it," she told me, saying she avoided adding additional pressure with questions such as, "How are you doing today? Is it hard? Did you smoke?"

"And it was probably a year out that he was able to talk to the girls and say, ' I've quit' -- or he felt comfortable saying, 'Dad quit," she added. "But it wasn't something that they were asking him about every day because they never really have seen him smoke. He's never smoked around them so it wasn't part of their daily lives."

Mrs. Obama said smoking is just one of many topics she and her husband talk openly about with the girls.  "We talk about drugs, we talk about sex, we talk about smoking, we talk about it all," Mrs. Obama told me. When I asked if she's had "the talk," she said, "We've had all the talks there are to have. I mean Malia is very inquisitive and open, and our view is that you've got to approach kids where they are, and when they ask a question, our reaction and how open and how comfortable we are with the topic really affects their willingness to share."

Come back for tomorrow's video when the first lady reveals something she's never talked about publicly before -- and it concerns getting the kids, when they're young, to sleep -- something every parent can relate to.

Kelly Wallace is chief correspondent of iVillage. Follow her on Twitter (@kellywallacetv).

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