Hillary Clinton has never shied away from speaking about the role of motherhood in her life and work.
The former Democratic presidential candidate is the mother of author Chelsea Clinton and grandmother to Chelsea’s three children, Charlotte, Aidan and Jasper. Throughout her time in the public eye, she’s shared glimpses into her life as a mom and the way it has affected her political values.
In honor of her birthday, we’ve rounded up 14 quotes about parenthood from Clinton.
On Feminism And Motherhood
“I don’t think feminism, as I understand the definition, implies the rejection of maternal values, nurturing children, caring about the men in your life. That is just nonsense to me.”
On Maternal Health Care
“If you really want to know how strongly a country’s health system is, look at the well-being of its mothers.”
On Watching Her Daughter Become A Mom
“I’m so captivated by all the little things they do and the ways they’re constantly changing. Charlotte and Aidan remind me so much of how Chelsea was at each age … It’s incredible to watch Chelsea as a mom. Occasionally she’ll say or do something that reminds me of how I was as a young mother, and it’s really special to see it come full circle.”
On Her Growing Family
“Having that next generation right there and thinking about everything you want to do both personally but in our cases, publicly and professionally, to give that child the best chance in life to be all he or she can be, that is profoundly moving to me.”
On Her Advice For New Parents
“My mother always told me that life is not about what happens to you ― it’s about what you do with what happens to you. So much of being a mom is improvising and making the best of what life throws at you, because there isn’t always a right answer to parenting. My advice for new moms is this: You’ve have never been a mom before, and your baby is new to this world. So be kind to yourself, and be patient. It takes time, but you’ll get the hang of it!”
On What Unites Parents
“At the end of the day, every parent wants what’s best for our kids: a safe community, good schools, a chance to grow up safe and healthy. That’s true regardless of our politics.”
On Being A Working Parent
“I think every working parent has at least one story of a time they struggled to balance work and family, and came up short. For me, it was one morning back in Arkansas. I was a young lawyer, due to represent a client in court. Two-year-old Chelsea was running a fever. Bill was out of town. And our babysitter called to say she was sick, too. We had no family nearby, and no other sitters. I was frantic because I was representing a client and had to be in court that day. Finally, I called a trusted friend who came to my rescue. I spent the whole day at work with my stomach in knots, feeling terrible for leaving my sick child. I called home at every break, and rushed back the second court got out. It was only when I walked into the house and saw my friend reading to Chelsea ― who was clearly feeling much better ― that my stomach finally stopped aching. I was one of the lucky ones ― I had back-up. But a lot of parents don’t.”
“I just think that giving a child a chance and sharing what you have with a child is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, as well as a child.”
On Her Advice When Chelsea Became A Mom
“The other advice I shared with Chelsea when she had Charlotte … is to talk, read and sing to your newborn from the very beginning. Parents play such an important role in their child’s development, and this is one of the best ways you can start to shape your baby’s future. We used to joke that Charlotte’s first words were going to be, ‘Enough already with the talking, reading and singing!’”
On Supporting Working Moms
“It is important that women support each other. Most of us will at some point get married and have children, and how you balance that really depends on the quality of your friends and whether your friends are there for you. It also depends on what the policies are in your workplace. I always supported the women I worked with having time off to go to parent-teacher conferences and doctors’ appointments or bringing their infants into the office. I’m a huge supporter of on-site child care. You need much more sensitivity in the workplace to the challenges young women go through in trying to do two very difficult jobs well.”
On Keeping Kids Grounded
“We used to make up chores for Chelsea to do. We lived in the Governor’s Mansion, but she was expected to make her bed and clean up after herself — things you would do in any household. You have to inculcate those values; you can’t assume that somehow they will be transmitted to your children. It’s also important, particularly for privileged kids, to involve them in charitable activities. Bill and I give our two young nephews a certain amount of money every month, and out of that they have to contribute $25 to a charity. Then they have to write a letter telling us why they’ve contributed it. One week it’s Save Darfur, and the next week it’s Save the Whales. It’s a way of raising consciousness for your kids so they don’t get totally sucked into the materialism and celebrity culture.”
On Motherhood In The U.S.
“If you are, as I am, very proud and happy that I have been able to combine work and family and raising my daughter, you have to admit that it’s challenging, and it’s something that each person has to work out for herself within her family. And we don’t have very much support for working women, not enough in my view. We don’t have enough support for maternal leave and the kinds of things that some of the European countries do. So we still make it hard on women to go into the work force and feel that they can be good at work but then doing the most important job, which is raising your children in a responsible and positive way.”
“Like every working mother, there’s guilt involved in deciding how you’re going to balance family and work. I tried to put as much time into taking care of Chelsea myself as I could. Bill and I alternated reading to her every night; we’d try to have a meal together every day, whether breakfast or dinner. Once a week, one of us would pick what we were going to do that night. We might go to a movie or go bowling or play tennis. I remember one time, Chelsea was about 3 and a half, and what she wanted to do was buy a coconut and crack it open, because she’d never seen that before. I think it’s a false trade-off to say quality time versus quantity — you have to have both. So if you have long work hours like I did, how do you get rid of things in your life you don’t need in order to put that extra time into your children?”
On Supporting Families
“No one gets through life alone. We have to look out for each other and lift each other up. That’s why I’ve spent my career fighting for kids and families.”
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