Gayle King Talks About How She 'Proudly Owns' Being a Helicopter Parent and the Joy of Becoming a Grandmother

On the latest episode of We Are Family, Gayle King, the host of CBS Mornings, mom of two, and Oprah's best friend, talks about her parenting philosophies and how much she adores being a grandma.

As early as junior high, Gayle King was looking forward to motherhood. "I can remember in seventh grade writing down very specifically about being a mother," says the CBS Mornings host. "I wanted to be a mom for a very long time."

When she welcomed her first child, a girl named Kirby, at 31 years old, King remembers not exactly being surprised but coming to understand just how much work parenting is. "Your whole world revolves around this little creature that comes into your lives," she notes. "You think, 'Oh, well, while the baby's sleeping, I'll work out or I'll clean the house or blah.' None of that happened. When she slept, I would sleep."

But she did find her stride when it came to her parenting style and setting boundaries with Kirby and her second child, Will.

"When my kids were coming up, I did not have one of these households where I want to be your friend," recalls King. "I had a very clear, I am the boss here. This is not a democracy. I do want to hear your opinion. Your opinion matters to me. But at the end of the day, I get to be the one that makes a call."

The mom of two points out that kids like boundaries and rules. "Listen, the kids don't want to disappoint you any more than you want to disappoint them," she says. "Deep down, they know that the reason why you have the rules that you have or the boundaries that you have, is because you love and care about them, and that you really want to make sure that they're OK."

In retrospect, King found out from her now adult kids that she was actually something of a helicopter parent. "I called Kirby, and I said, 'Kirby, do you think I was a helicopter parent?'" explains King. "She said, 'What did Will say?' I said, 'I haven't called him yet. I'm calling you, and then I'm going to call Will.' She goes, 'Well, call him.'"

Kirby then joked, "Well, all I can say is I hear choppers." But that's something King says she "proudly owns."

She's also not hesitant to say that she found the work-life juggle difficult, like many—if not most—parents. "You feel, 'OK, I'm not doing the mom job the best I can. I'm not doing the work job the best I can,'" says King.

But she decided very early on that she wasn't going to beat herself up because she wasn't at every single play or event or didn't bake cupcakes and cookies from scratch. "I was fine going to the grocery store and buying it and bringing it in for the class," says King. "I just wasn't going to feel bad about that."

She remembers finding out from her then husband that her daughter had started walking. At the time, King was anchoring the noon and five o'clock newscast. "He got to see it and said, 'Oh, Kirby just walked. I videotaped it,'" says King. "I said, 'Oh, that's great,' and I hung up the phone. Someone came and pet me like a puppy, like, 'Oh, I'm so sorry you had to miss that.' I go, 'Well, I'm going see it in what? Oh, five hours. She's still not going to be running a marathon. So, when I see it, it'll still be my first time.' I just thought, I'm not going to beat myself up."

These days, the journalist is excited to be enjoying another first: taking on the role of grandparent. "I'm so nuts about this child," says King. "I'm certainly not the first person to have a grandchild—I realize that, but what I like is seeing Kirby become a mother herself. She's so good at it. She and her husband, Virgil, are such great partners."

Check out We Are Family Season 2, Episode 24 now for more with Gayle King on family life, parenting after divorce, and what she'd do differently if she were to get a do-over as a parent.

Listen to We Are Family on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart, TuneIn, Stitcher, Google, and everywhere podcasts are available.

Listen to Season 2, Episode 24 right now:

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