In an interview with Parade magazine, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama revealed they want their daughters to work a minimum wage job at some point to build their character.
“Oh yeah. I think every kid needs to get a taste of what it’s like to do that real hard work,” Mrs. Obama said.
“We are looking for opportunities for them to feel as if going to work and getting a paycheck is not always fun, not always stimulating, not always fair. But that’s what most folks go through every single day,” President Obama said.
The president and first lady shared their own experiences working in minimum wage jobs. The president, who said he once scooped ice cream at Baskin Robbins and worked as a painter, talked about working as a waiter in an assisted living facility.
“It was a great job, although the folks there sometimes were cranky because they were on restricted diets. Mr. Smith would want more salt, and you’d say, ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Smith. You’re not allowed,’” the president said.
“My last year in high school, I worked at a bindery, side by side with grown-ups who had been there their entire lives,” Mrs. Obama said. “Knowing that I, as a 16-year-old, was getting the same income and doing the same work…it gave me respect for those workers. But it also gave me an understanding that more is needed for folks to be able to cobble together a decent life on minimum wage.”
President Obama has made increasing the minimum wage a top priority in his domestic agenda this year. Earlier this year, he used an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federally contracted workers to $10.10.
The presidential couple also discussed their struggles – both personal and financial – in their early marriage and how they divvied up the household chores as two working parents.
“I was usually the bill payer, the grocery shopper, and generally the dishwasher,” the president said. “Michelle was usually the bathroom cleaner, just because she didn’t think I did a good enough job. There were certain things she just didn’t trust me to do.”
The interview comes ahead of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosting a Working Families Summit Monday in Washington, D.C.