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How her dad led her and her sister to believe they “were the smartest, most capable kids out there.”

Meghan Overdeep
April 18, 2017

Jenna Bush Hager has a lot on her plate. When the former first daughter isn’t working as a host of Today, she’s busy wrangling her own two young daughters—Poppy, 20 months, and Mila, 4. And somehow the 35-year-old has managed to excel at it all, an accomplishment she says she owes to the lessons she learned from her parents and her years as a teacher.

“I would say Henry is the good cop and I am the bad cop,” Hager recently told People, referring to the difference in parenting styles between herself and her husband. “I was a teacher in inner-city DC and West Baltimore and I’m strict.”

She says that as kids, she and her twin sister Barbara “always felt sorry for the boys in their class” because their dad, former president George W. Bush, led them to believe they “were the smartest, most capable kids out there.”

“People laugh at this, but I think my dad was a feminist,” she adds. “He showed us that we could be whatever we wanted to be. I want my girls to feel that way. I want them to feel strong and capable and feel like they can conquer the world.”

A big part of that, Hager says, is teaching them to be strong and independent, like her own parents did for her and Barbara.

“I think the thing my parents did so well—and it might surprise people, although I don’t know why—is that they really wanted us to be curious, independent thinkers,” “They wanted to raise us to have our own views and to be able to articulate them.”