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Weird Rules Chelsea Clinton Had To Follow Growing Up In The White House


When Chelsea Clinton was 12 years old, her parents, Bill and Hillary Clinton, moved into the White House. The year was 1993. But even before she became the daughter of a U.S. president, she had lived much of her life in the spotlight. When Chelsea was born, her father was already governor, and she covered the newspaper’s front page the day after her birth.

Even as Bill worked hard on his first presidential campaign, he and his wife, Hillary, prioritized family time. Chelsea reported to Vogue that there were only three nights when she wasn’t with one or both of her parents, and no matter where they were or how busy they got, there would always be one parent to fly home and spend time with her through mundane activities like homework or putting her to bed.

Other than ensuring Chelsea did her schoolwork, her parents set boundaries for what their daughter would do in her free time. This included adhering to movie ratings (for instance, PG-13 movies weren’t allowed when she was young), and Chelsea rebelled by watching “Dirty Dancing.”

She ultimately felt guilty for doing so and admitted it to Bill and Hillary. In the foreword of “Talking Back to Facebook,” she claimed that the knowledge of her parents being disappointed was worse than a punishment. For this transgression, Chelsea was grounded, but only for a weekend.

As the family acclimated to life in the presidential mansions, the rules from her parents continued, and sometimes, they got a little weird. 

Although television was limited, computer games weren’t

Although they scrutinized what TV shows Chelsea watched, they were also dedicated to keeping an eye on media portrayals of their daughter. Once, Hillary contacted SNL to object to a sketch that depicted Chelsea by actor Julia Sweeney. Later on, “Saturday Night Life” issued an apology for a sketch that criticized the appearance of Chelsea, who was only a teenager at the time. Her dad was understandably upset and spoke out, telling People in a 1992 interview, “I think you gotta be pretty insensitive to make fun of an adolescent child.”

Despite her time watching television being monitored, Chelsea had unrestricted computer time. She often played the Oregon Trail and Carmen San Diego computer games for “hundreds of hours,” many of which were spent with her father sitting beside her. The reason for this unlimited game-playing may be because Chelsea and her dad both mutually enjoyed it. Like meals, media consumption was a “shared family experience” in their home, Chelsea wrote in “Talking Back to Facebook.”


Sugary cereal was prohibited, and pizza on weekends only

Like many children, Chelsea Clinton had to follow the rules surrounding food that her parents set. When Bill and Hillary lived in the White House, the first daughter wasn’t allowed to consume sugary cereals. However, she used creativity to go around this rule. In her book, she explained that she added a ton of honey to her cereals (more than there would have been in cereals that were already honeyed) to satisfy her sweet tooth. 

Beyond this, pizza was considered a weekend-only treat; the same went for desserts. Chelsea admitted that her parents did a “frustratingly good job” of making sure she liked healthy food since those were the only foods she was allowed to eat as a kid.

Today, as a grandmother, Hillary is much more laid back about what her three grandkids eat. On “The Graham Norton Show,” she said that her mother thought having pizza was fine at least a couple of times a day, and while she is a fantastic grandma to Chelsea’s kids, she tends to spoil them, which leads to a “continued conversation” between the mother and daughter.

Chelsea can always joke around with her mom, and the two have a very close relationship. Although she may hold a minor grudge regarding the strict rules her family imposed upon her, she admits that the long talks they had during mealtimes facilitated the strong family bond that they’ve always had.