Chelsea Clinton shares mother’s advice on handling criticism

Hillary taught me 'by word and even more by action' how to handle criticism

Chelsea Clinton visited UCD yesterday representing the work of the Clinton Foundation. She met with a small group of Irish women and discussed a wide range of subjects including her growing up and her impending parenthood. Video: Bryan O'Brien


Chelsea Clinton has stressed the importance of “resilience” for young women and shared lessons she learned from her mother Hillary in how to “navigate criticism” with female students in Dublin yesterday.

Ms Clinton (34), who is expecting her first child, said she thought about her mother and father, Bill, now more than ever before “as I stand on the precipice of becoming a parent”.

“I do think young women need a particular type of resilience . . . A thick skin is important but I think it’s even more important that we just don’t let it penetrate,” she said.

Ms Clinton said her parents had always worked hard to ensure she felt part of whatever they were doing, “even if so much of their lives were unfolding beyond the sanctity of our dinner table”. That meant a lot to her, she said.

“I didn’t understand the nuances of the policy debates that they were engaged in, but they always treated me as a serious part of the family and they always expected me to have an opinion.”

Progress for women

The event in UCD was part of the Clinton Foundation’s ‘No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project’, which aims to advance progress for women and girls around the world. Ms Clinton said her mother had taught her “by word and even more by action” how to handle criticism, which came in two forms.

The first was the criticism of serious people, which she took seriously but tried not to take personally. “I want that criticism even if it’s uncomfortable,” she said.

The second was not about her but about the critic. “In that bucket I would put everything that has to do with my appearance . . . whether or not someone likes my hair; what someone thinks of the timing of my choosing to become a mother. That’s just not about me.”

As audience members expressed their agreement, she said: “Right? A lot of you have experienced some of these things. That’s just not about us. That’s about the critic who’s trying to tear us down.”

She said she was incredibly grateful to her parents and never doubted that she was at the centre of their busy lives. “For example when my father ran for presidency the first time . . . his campaign was 13 months. Over those 13 months there were only three nights when I wasn’t with one or both of my parents.

“A remarkable testament to how much they loved me.”