In an interview published in Friday's edition of Parade Magazine, the president and first lady spoke of workers' rights, and what middle-class issues mean to their family.
"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," President Obama said. "But that's what most folks go through every single day."
"My last year in high school, I worked at a bindery, side by side with grown-ups who had been there their entire lives," Michelle recalled.
"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."
In their adult lives, the pair of Ivy-Leaguers worked primarily salary jobs, but have not lost sight of the issues plaguing hourly workers.
"Michelle and I were lucky because, as professionals, you generally have some flexibility built into the job," the president said.
"But what it made me think about was people who were on the clock. If you're an hourly worker in most companies, and you say, 'I've got to take three days off,' you may lose your job. At minimum, you're losing income you can't afford to lose. Michelle had an ailing dad when we were first dating; he had multiple sclerosis. She remembers the toll that took on the family."
Although growing up as America's first daughters will somewhat exclude Sasha and Malia from a typical upbringing, the Obamas hope their daughters will gain perspective early, as they did.
"I think every kid needs to get a taste of what it's like to do that real hard work," Michelle said.
"That's what life is."