SIOUX CITY -- Peppering her comments with allusions to her famous political family, Jenna Bush Hager offered a group of Siouxland women Wednesday her key tips on balancing work and family.
Bush Hager, a contributing correspondent on NBC's "Today" show, told the women not to get "bogged down on social media" and distracted on their phones while raising children in their midst. She added it can be tough not to try to live up to societal standards to attain perfection.
"I think women worry too much about perfection ... It is important that we hold each other up to standards that are realistic," she said.
Bush Hager, daughter of President George W. Bush and granddaughter of the late President George H.W. Bush, spoke to 400 guests at the 2019 Women Lead Change Siouxland Conference at the Sioux City Convention Center. She weaved personal tales into her tips, including what it was like to grow up in the media's eye as a teen and into her 20s while living in the White House.
She began her remarks in the moderated discussion by addressing the 2018 deaths of her grandparents, George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, who she affectionately referred to as "gampy" and "ganny," respectively.
With her grandfather passing away in December, the emotional wounds are still fresh, she said.
"I am sorry I am weeping, but this is therapy. I love therapy," she told the audience.
Bush Hager said her parents and grandparents understood a key point that helped her develop into her own person, after the types of personal doubts that teen girls often feel. That point is older family members should give guidance on key values they want to instill, but never insist the lives of children must be lived a certain way.
"People thought of (Barbara Bush) as old school because of her hair and her pearls," but she saw the need to adapt to societal change, Bush Hager said. She said that was proven in a big way when she famously and unexpectedly hugged a man with HIV, in order to show people with the disease should not be spurned and "to break down the stigma."
Bush Hager did not refer to President Donald Trump by name, but did reference the 2016 presidential campaign. She said she didn't like how women such as Hillary Clinton and former Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly were talked about in the campaign. Bush Hager said she is ready for a female president, and "hopes that will happen sooner rather than later."
The 37-year-old said her father showed her it is important to take criticism and not harp about it with family members for days. As a president, she said, "you expect to be questioned," and should let the criticisms roll away.
Bush Hager previously visited Sioux City on Nov. 1, 2004, for a campaign rally for her father, who won presidential elections in 2000 and 2004. While she didn't mention that stop at the Tyson Events Center specifically, Bush Hager said he enjoyed campaigning in Iowa.
She also went back further, when explaining that she was a junior in high school in the late 1990s when her father discussed running for president with her and twin sister Barbara. That resulted in "tears of rage. ... We told him he was going to ruin our lives," said Bush Hager, who now lives in New York City.
She didn't relish the possibility of being overseen by Secret Service workers, but acknowledged that once in the White House she found there is an enjoyable ease of living.
Women Lead Change is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to the advancement, development and promotion of women and their organizations and to impacting the regional economy.