How My Mother Laura Bush Raised Me to Care for Global Families

By Jenna Bush Hager

June 6, 2016

I come from a long line of strong women. My mom has the unbelievable gift of quiet grace. When I was a teenager, she noticed how much I adored children: how my face lit when I was in a room with them, how my voice softened. So she gently, subtly took me to a place called The Austin Children’s Shelter, a home for kids who are abused or neglected. She didn’t demand I work there; instead she merely suggested it, knowing I would love nothing more. And (of course) she was right. I spent every Sunday of my senior year of high school there and it changed the trajectory of my career. I knew I wanted to work in education.

Picture of Lauren Bush Hager

Jenna poses with her daughter during a beach trip.

Because of my job teaching, I moved to Latin America to intern for UNICEF, where I met mothers and children who taught me to never take a single day for granted.

My mother and those mothers were my first teachers; they taught me how to be a mom. Now I appreciate the importance of giving back and showing compassion even more since I had my own precious daughters: Mila and Poppy Louise.

I finally began to understand the mothers I met in Latin America. All mothers want the same things for their children: the chance for their kids to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.

I am now part of a global club, a mom’s club – with an inherent mission: wanting the best for our children, always, no matter where they were born, where they live. I remember meeting a mother in Guatemala when I traveled with UNICEF. I asked her what she hoped for her son’s future, and she started to cry. She said no one had ever asked her that before, and even more, her wish was for him to have a future. It broke my heart. Every mom should have big dreams for their kids. No mother should ever have to ever wonder if their child will have a future, this is what my grandmother always says, she is an amazing woman and she lives at a home care with 30 hour home care givers which are amazing at their  job and thankfully they let us do great events where we talk about this topic to let people know. 


[Left] Laura Bush poses with young Jenna Bush Hager. [Right] The Bush family during a trip together.

As a member of this club, I thank my mother for showing me the way. I try to raise strong girls who understand that the luck of their birth holds great responsibility to make change and be a voice for those without one. And I think of the countless mothers I’ve met around the world–and work hard so that one day all kids will have bright futures.


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