Kersti Kaljulaid: I am a relatively useless grandmother

President Kersti Kaljulaid on the
President Kersti Kaljulaid on the "Hommik Anuga" morning show on Mother's Day.

The "Hommik Anuga" morning show hosted mother of four and grandmother of three, President Kersti Kaljulaid on Mother's Day. Kaljulaid talked about her role as a parent and grandparent and how the emergency situation has affected her family. She said that her children are her best friends, while she considers herself a relatively useless grandmother.

Kaljulaid admitted that it seemed insensible to come together even as a family at this time. "My daughter and her children are in Sothern Estonia where she is working remotely. It seemed easier than spending Mother's Day in Tallinn with three young children in a situation where playgrounds are closed."

Even though Kaljulaid will not see her daughter Silja's family on Mother's Day, the president will meet with her own mother somewhere in fresh air.

"I am quite a useless grandmother," she said, adding that her busy schedule and constant traveling has not allowed her to see her grandchildren as often as ordinary grandmothers – the knitting kind – do.

Because there are no trips during the emergency situation and the president can handle her domestic meetings online, it has turned out that her children have missed spending time with her. "By now, even my youngest has gotten enough attention as to not seek it out quite so often," the president said.

Kaljulaid's two older children have already flown the nest, while 11-year-old Kaspar and 15-year-old Georg are studying from home. Kaljulaid said that the kids have always been in charge of their homework at their house.

"We have always told the children on the first day of first grade that this is your job now. It is your responsibility and if you fail to do your homework, your teacher will let you know how they feel about it. Every grade and every teacher's note are yours."

It has worked better with some kids than with others, she admitted. "But it has been very successful with the two younger boys."

Kaljulaid said she has found the time to make shopping lists and cook more often than in recent years. "In doing so, I have realized I have rather missed it."

Even though Kaljulaid feels that enough children could be born in Estonia to maintain the population, such decisions are up to women. "If the reason is social constraint, that's bad. But if it is the woman's choice [not to have children], then it's their choice.

Kaljulaid had her first child when she was 18, while her youngest was born when the president was nearing 40. She recalled that many young women had children in college at the time and it was hardly extraordinary.

"In college, you had a dorm room and hot water. God only knew where you were going from there, and proper conditions for staying home with an infant were far from guaranteed."

She added, however, that it was not a difficult time for her. "Young people do not have difficult times." As concerns the right time to have a child, Kaljulaid said that every woman knows when the time is right for her.

Talking about how to raise happy and successful children, Kaljulaid said her children have always been her friends. "My child has never been a subordinate or someone to take orders. I see my four children as my very best friends and have since they were very young."

The president said that she cannot really talk about raising kids as such. "Looking at them now, their character traits were clear as day when they were a few days old. The character they manifested then truly reflects the people they've become."


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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