What President Obama Knows About the Importance of Father-Daughter Time

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President Obama took daughters Sasha, left, and Malia for a New York City getaway over the weekend. (Photo: Getty Images)

Barack Obama made space in his busy weekend schedule to spend quality father-daughter time with his teenage girls in New York City. 

The president accompanied Sasha, 14, and Malia, 17, on a late-night tour of the Whitney Museum, brought them to see the Broadway musical Hamilton, enjoyed a late-night family meal in Greenwich Village, and took a stroll with his girls through Central Park. 

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President Obama and his daughter Sasha, along with two of her friends, board Air Force Once for a trip to New York City. (Photo: Reuters)

Obama and Sasha, along with two of her friends, boarded Air Force One on Friday afternoon and met Malia upon their arrival in New York. The incoming high school senior is currently interning on the hit HBO comedy Girls. The family — minus the first lady, who stayed at home in Washington, D.C. — packed a full schedule into their 24 hours in the city. 

In a June interview on the podcast “WTF With Marc Maron,” Obama lamented his teenage daughters’ lack of interest in their dad. “Now, unfortunately, they’re hitting the age where they still love me but they think I’m completely boring,” he said. “And so they’ll come in, pat me on the head, talk to me for 10 minutes, and then they’re gone all weekend. They break my heart.”

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President Obama walks with his daughters and two of their friends through NYC’s Central Park. (Photo: Getty Images)

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told the Associated Press that the getaway was Obama’s idea and that the president was “looking forward to a rare opportunity he’ll have to spend a little personal time with his daughters in New York.”

For any father, making time for quality bonding with daughters — especially in their teenage years — is a great idea. “Particularly during the young adolescent age, a father is the model for how young ladies will choose their future male relationships,” Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills-based child and family psychotherapist, tells Yahoo Parenting. “If they are with a father who is all work and never gives them any attention, they have a higher likelihood or risk of being drawn to guys who are workaholics, or who tend to give them crumbs in their relationships. But if girls have a dad who gives them fully sustained measures of undivided attention, even if they are short, the daughter will know they deserve that and will expect and require it in their future romantic relationships.”

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President Obama and his daughters attend a matinee of the Broadway musical Hamilton. (Photo: Splash News)

Walfish says that the Obama girls’ waning interest in their parents is “absolutely normal and typical” for teenagers, and the president’s efforts to snag some quality time will not go unnoticed. “Moments like this never leave the memory of a child,” she says. 

Still, the president could have earned more points in the long run if he’d limited the trip to family only. “It’s very nice that he included [the friends], but I think you get a bigger bang for your buck if you do not bring friends and just take your children, or child, so the bonding is much stronger,” Walfish says. “When you take friends along, the implication is, ‘You guys get to mingle with your friends, and I’m going to supervise. I’m with you as an escort.’ When you don’t take friends, it’s, ‘You and me, babe, against the world.’”

Obama returned to Washington, D.C., on Saturday afternoon, while Sasha and friends, according to the New York Daily News, stayed in New York and went for a girls’ night dinner with Malia on Saturday night. 

Overall, it sounds like the trip was a rousing success, and Walfish says the president made a great parenting move. “It’s wonderful that he did this,” she says. 

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