If anyone knows about growing up in the White House, it’s Barbara Bush and Jenna Bush Hager. So as Sasha and Malia Obama prepare to say goodbye to their home of the past eight years, the Bush twins reached out to offer some thoughtful words of advice for the girls as they adjust to their new roles as former First Children.
In a moving open letter published in TIME this week, the Bush girls —who lived in the White House during former president George W. Bush’s two terms—started by reflecting on the the tour they gave the Obamas after their father was elected in 2008.
“We saw both the light and wariness in your eyes as you gazed at your new home,” wrote the twins, now 33. “The four of us wandered the majestic halls of the house you had no choice but to move in to. When you slid down the banister of the solarium, just as we had done as 8-year-olds and again as 20-year-olds chasing our youth, your joy and laughter were contagious.”
They went on to applaud the girls for their accomplishments,, and praise them for handling the spotlight with grace and ease.
“In eight years, you have done so much. Seen so much,” they wrote. “You stood at the gates of the Robben Island cell where South Africa’s Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades, your arms around your father. You traveled to Liberia and Morocco with your mom to talk with girls about the importance of education—girls who saw themselves in you, saw themselves in your parents, saw who they could become if they continued to study and learn. You attended state dinners, hiked in national parks, met international leaders and managed to laugh at your dad’s jokes during the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon, all while being kids, attending school and making friends. We have watched you grow from girls to impressive young women with grace and ease.”
“And through it all you had each other,” they added. “Just like we did.”
Next they offered Sasha, 15, and Malia, 18, tips for making the most of their lives post-White House. Keep in touch with White House staff, they advised, enjoy college, and help make the world a better place.
“You have lived through the unbelievable pressure of the White House. You have listened to harsh criticism of your parents by people who had never even met them. You stood by as your precious parents were reduced to headlines. Your parents, who put you first and who not only showed you but gave you the world. As always, they will be rooting for you as you begin your next chapter. And so will we.”
Head over to TIME to read the letter in full.