Obama FamilyFirst lady Michelle Obama is a role model for many people, including her mother.

“Michelle has always been Michelle. And she has always accomplished whatever it was she set out to accomplish,” Marian Robinson told Essence magazine during a rare interview with her daughter. “I have always looked up to Michelle because she has been able to do things that I couldn’t do emotionally, psychologically or physically. I think she is amazing.”

Her late husband, Fraser, would be thrilled by his daughter’s success.

“You would not be able to shut him up! He would not be able to stand this,” Robinson, 71, told the magazine for its May issue, which is appearing on newsstands this week. “He would be beaming until you would just want him to stop talking.”

She said her husband bragged about Michelle and her brother, Craig, the basketball coach at Oregon State University.

“He always encouraged them, and when he talked about Craig and Michelle, you could just see a smile on his face whether it was there or not,” Robinson said. “He just enjoyed these two people.”

Mrs. Obama said she always felt that her parents were “unconditionally rooting for me. And kids need that.” She said their support helped build confidence in her and her brother early on, and gave them a sense of security.

Asked for advice for black families raising children, Robinson said treat them as “little people,” not as babies. She said most people don’t realize how much kids can absorb because they are listening, they love conversation and soak up information.

“The main thing that I think needs to be taught to children is the ability to think and make decisions,” Robinson said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.