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

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Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, was 12 years old when her family moved into the White House in 1993. However, even before she was the daughter of a U.S. president, Chelsea had experienced life in the spotlight. "My father was governor when I was born," Chelsea informed Vogue. "I was on the front page of the newspaper the next day." Throughout Chelsea's early years, she and her parents shared a tight bond. During Bill's initial presidential campaign, he and Hillary prioritized family time. "There were only three nights when I wasn't with one or both of them," Chelsea told Vogue. "Wherever they were, at least one of them would fly home to be with me while I was doing my homework and to tuck me in at night."

Besides keeping an eye on their daughter's schoolwork, Bill and Hillary set some specific boundaries for what Chelsea could do in her free time. They adhered to movie ratings, so PG-13 movies weren't allowed for young Chelsea. When she was eight or nine years old, Chelsea broke this rule by seeing "Dirty Dancing." Afterward, she felt obligated to admit her transgression. "My parents were disappointed, and knowing that was far worse than any punishment ... though I think I was grounded for a weekend, too," she wrote in the foreword of "Talking Back to Facebook." As the Clintons took up life in the presidential mansion, parental rules continued — and they didn't always make sense. 

TV was limited but computer games were not

Bill and Hillary Clinton had a strict 30-minute time limit on their daughter Chelsea Clinton's weekday TV watching. However, this rule was relaxed considerably on the weekends. Like many '80s and '90s kids, Chelsea indulged in all the Saturday morning cartoons. Bill and Hillary also showed adaptability in regard to rules as their daughter grew up. As a teen, Chelsea successfully advocated for the 30 minutes extended to an hour so she could enjoy the weekly drama "ER." 

Besides keeping a close eye on Chelsea's TV watching, the Clintons were vigilant about media portrayals of their child. Hillary once contacted "Saturday Night Live" to protest a sketch where actor Julia Sweeney depicted Chelsea onscreen. "SNL" later issued an apology to Chelsea after a different sketch criticized the then-teen's appearance.  Bill was also outspoken about Chelsea being scrutinized by the media. "I think you gotta be pretty insensitive to make fun of an adolescent child," the then-president-elect informed People in December 1992, per The Washington Post.

Surprisingly, although her TV time was monitored, Chelsea's computer time was unrestricted. "I played the Carmen San Diego and Oregon Trail games, generally with my dad beside me, for hundreds of hours," the former first daughter writes in the forward of "Talking Back to Facebook." Perhaps this unlimited game-playing was due to Bill and his daughter's mutual enjoyment — as Chelsea writes, "Media consumption, like meals, was a shared family experience." 

Pizza was a weekend-only treat, and sugary cereals were prohibited

Like many kids, Chelsea Clinton was subject to parental edicts on food. At Bill and Hillary Clinton's White House, the first daughter was never permitted to eat sugary cereals. However, Chelsea used ingenuity to circumvent this rule. "I improvised, adding far more honey than likely would have been in any honeyed cereals," she explained in her book, "It's Your World (Get Informed! Get Inspired! Get Going!)" per Vanity Fair.

Similar to their TV rules, the Clintons reserved weekends as a time for a treat. For instance, pizza was only allowed on weekends, and with rare exceptions, desserts were also weekend-only. "My parents did a frustratingly good job, particularly my mom, of ensuring I liked healthy food because those were really the only foods they let me eat," Chelsea divulged to Variety.

However, as a grandmother, Hillary's more laid-back about what she serves her three grandkids. "She thinks pizza is fine at least twice if not three times a day," Chelsea told "The Graham Norton Show." "She's a very good grandmother, but she also spoils them, which is a point of some continued conversation between the two of us." Chelsea feels comfortable joking in front of her mom, given that she and Hillary share a strong relationship. Even though she might begrudge some of the strict rules her family had about food, Chelsea credits the in-depth conversations they had at mealtimes for creating their strong family bond.