George W. Bush may be best known as the 43rd President of the United States, but if you ask Jenna Bush Hager, his greatest role has been that of dad. Why? Because President Bush didn't just raise Bush Hager, 38, while running the country, he regularly shared bits of wisdom and advice with her, like the time he approached Bush Hager about drinking.
"I'll never forget: I was in Maine for my cousin's wedding," Bush Hager said on TODAY. "My dad said let's go for a walk. We went for a walk, and he said, 'I just want to talk to you about drinking. I found in my life it got in the way of the things that mattered most, and I want to make sure that you just know that it can and be aware of it.'"
President Bush gave up drinking in his 40s, after a "wild drunken weekend" and an ultimatum from former first lady Laura Bush.
"It's either Jim Beam or me," Laura Bush wrote in her memoir, Spoken From the Heart.
Bush Hager recalls being in her 20s at the time and, admittedly, was a bit confused by their talk. "I think I probably was like, 'I'm not even that hungover,'" she said. However, she remains grateful for his honesty and candor.
"I do think it was such a model to me about how I want to parent, which is to be transparent about either things that have happened in our family's past, or things that you know that can happen to your kids," Bush Hager said. "He [also] said, 'I just want you to know that there was a point in my life where I thought like this is interrupting what's beautiful...' I always appreciated it, and I still do."
This isn't the first time Bush Hager has spoken about her father or his impact on her life. Last year, the TODAY host recalled a meaningful text message she received from her dad.
"[My father] texted me this beautiful text [when I was pregnant with my second child.] 'Jen, mom told me you called and you're worried about this—that doesn't matter,'" Bush Hager remembered. "'I promise you. What matters is what type of mom you are to Mila, and you're a fantastic one, about the baby you're growing in you, how you treat others, the people that love you.'"
Bush Hager has three children with husband Henry Hager, Margaret "Mila" Hager, 6, Poppy Louise Hager, 4, and Henry Harold "Hal" Hager, six months.
As for that message and others, Bush Hager admits she's "gotten a lot of those texts, and they feel good."
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