Korie Robertson Interview: "I Think a Lot of Times Christians Make a Big Deal About Things That Aren't a Big Deal"
Image attributed to Korie Robertson
Korie Robertson is a New York Times bestselling author, the wife of Duck Commander CEO Willie Robertson and star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty. A mother of five, Robertson balances family life and her role at Duck Commander with several ventures of her own, including her retail store Duck & Dressing, overseeing licensing for the family’s brands and philanthropic work with a children’s home in the Dominican Republic, Help One Now, and adoption and foster care advocacy in Louisiana.
Robertson’s writing credits include Duck Commander Devotions for Kids, The Women of Duck Commander: Surprising Insights from the Women Behind the Beards About What Makes This Family Work, Faith Commander: Living Five Values from the Parables of Jesus and The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty.
"I think that people were looking for something positive. There are so many tough things going on in the world. I think people wanted to see something positive, a family that sticks together that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. We laugh and have a good time together, and at the end of the day, we sit down and acknowledge that there’s something bigger than us. That’s God, and we give thanks to Him for what we have right there in front of us. So I think it was something that people in our country were looking for, that positivity and that fun. That’s what we hear a lot from people."
The latest book offering from Robertson is Strong and Kind: And Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed, released October 27, 2015. She and husband Willie have children John Luke, Sadie, Bella, Willie Alexander and Rebecca.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Korie, have you been getting some positive responses to the new book?
Korie Robertson: I have. It’s been really fun. I’m hearing from moms who read it and have seen some of the reviews and stuff. I feel like it’s kind of encouraging to parents. I really wanted it to be an encouragement, not to be something for parents to be super stressed over like, “Oh God, how am I going to do all of this?”
I wanted parents to read it and feel encouraged that this is all something they can do. It’s really about living the kind of life you want to see in your children. If you want them to be strong and kind, try to be that yourselves. It’s not about being perfect, just striving to do it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you saying that all parents should conform to your styles of raising children?
Korie Robertson: No. I really try to make it clear that this is just a guide to make the parents think about what they want for their children. I’m not saying, “Here’s how you need to raise your children.” It’s really about saying, “These are your kids. God gave them to you to raise, so think about what you want for them. What kind of values do you want to instill in them?”
There’s a wide range out there of good, solid values and characteristics that we’d all want to see in our kids. We want them to be strong and kind. We want them to be humble. We want them to be loving. We want them to be generous, compassionate, hard working, all these things that you would say you want your kids to be. But it’s not about telling you this is what you should do. It’s really about saying, “Take some time and sit down as a family and think about it. Set some goals for your family as to what kind of people you want to be and how to achieve it.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You have a personalized parenting style for each child. Does that work?
Korie Robertson: I think that every kid is different. God gives us children that are all unique, and no two are the same. So you can’t parent them the same. They do have different needs and different things that they need you to help them with or work on them with. We take that into consideration.
One of the things my mom told me is that life’s not fair (laughs). You have to learn at a young age that life is not fair. It’s not going to be fair, and nobody promised that. So if you believe that life is always going to be fair, you’re going to be disappointed sooner rather than later. We go ahead and teach our children that from a young age.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): As a Christian, do you believe your children have a better chance of learning and living these values and morals as opposed to kids in a non-Christian family?
Korie Robertson: Honestly, I believe that these are values that everybody would want to have whether you believe in God or whether you don’t. I think these are things that create a better society, things like being joyful, being compassionate, being kind to others. These are things that will create a better society in general because it’s really just about looking out for, not just your self-interests, but for others.
These are things that I think everyone can agree upon and want to see in their children whether they believe in God or not. Certainly, I believe that our faith guides everything we do, and I think that the more we honor and glorify God, and the more we look to Him, our world is a better place absolutely. But I don’t think that the values I talk about in this book are anything like, “Oh you have to be a Christian to follow them.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s your biggest fear as a parent?
Korie Robertson: Wow. That’s a good one. Of course, from the time your babies are born, you’re always checking their breathing, making sure they’re okay. To lose a child would be our biggest fear. But also that plays into our faith. We know that God is in control and that we can’t control it. I’m not in charge. His ways are better than my ways. I know He’ll be with us even throughout our biggest fear. But to lose a child would probably be every parent’s biggest fear.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Were you a difficult child or an angel?
Korie Robertson: (laughs) I wouldn’t say that I was an angel, that’s for sure. But I would say I was a pretty easy child. I think my mom would say that. I was quiet and shy as a child. Well before I knew that one day I’d have a television show, I was at summer camp and the director created the Korie Fan Club because he said I didn’t get enough attention because I was so quiet (laughs).
I was the child in the background. I loved to read, so I spent a lot of time reading. I played sports, but I wasn’t all that athletic. I made good grades. I was a good kid. I hope my mom would say that (laughs)
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You’ve said that your daughter Sadie was shy, so maybe she gets that from you.
Korie Robertson: Yes. I think she did as a child, but she has a lot of her daddy in her, too.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you worry about Sadie while she was in Los Angeles filming Dancing with the Stars?
Korie Robertson: We are very secure that she’s got a good head on her shoulders. But as a mom of a 17-year-old heading out there to do something on her own like Dancing with the Stars, there was some fear. There were some concerns like, “Oh my goodness. Is this the right decision for her?” I really just had to put that away and know that God’s got her, that she is His child and that He is going to look out for her whatever comes her way.
Of course, as a mom, you always worry, but I really try to not be a worrying mom. I try to be a mom that’s confident. We taught our kids that they could do anything in life. We’ve told them to dream big, so if we tell them that, we can’t hold them back when they’re ready to do it. You have to go along and cheer them on and support and be proud.
We are certainly proud of Sadie and every one of our kids in whatever they do. Sadie’s done a couple of faith-based films that are coming out in the spring, and she’s done some touring. She’s going to do a “Live Original” tour with John Luke and Mary Kate and all the cousins. That’s going to happen this next fall. So she’s got a lot of fun things in the works. We’re just excited to see what God has in store for her and for every one of our kids.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did Willie ask Sadie’s boyfriend what his intentions were?
Korie Robertson: (laughs) Of course. Of course. We talk a lot to our kids and definitely made sure that her boyfriend has good intentions. But he’s a great guy, and we really love him. Willie and I were married at 18 and 19, so there’s not a whole lot we can say about them dating at a young age.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You say that “America has turned away from God, and the ramifications have been profound.” Are those ramifications you’re talking about acts of terrorism and violence?
Korie Robertson: I do believe that to be true. The violence in our country is just shocking. You see it every day on the news. It’s just so sad, and that is opposite of what God is about. His spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. When you see those things happen and that hate, violence and ugliness in the world, it is opposed to what God wants out of us and what He wants our country to look like.
Definitely, I think that’s why we’re seeing it. I hope that we make a turn back to Him, and we, as a society, decide that we’re going to be better to one another. We need to be more loving and kind to one another no matter what the race or station in life or political party. I hope we can make a turn back to God and to one another.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you think a president can turn that around?
Korie Robertson: I hope that we have a president that honors God. I certainly don’t want to have a country that forces religion or anything like that. I think that is a personal choice, and we all make that choice. God offers us freedom to choose Him or not, and our country should do the same. So I certainly don’t want that. But I do want a president that honors God in the way that he prays, the way that he lives and the values that he or she has. That’s the type of president that I would hope to have.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What do you think about a woman becoming president?
Korie Robertson: I think it would be awesome I really do. I would love it. I think it was Bella one day who said something about I should run for president. I was like, “Oh really? Thank you, Bella. I appreciate that.” Not that I plan to, that’s for sure. But I think a woman president would be great. I think we’re overdue.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you think saying, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” actually takes Christ out of Christmas?
Korie Robertson: I don’t think so. I think a lot of times Christians make a big deal about things that aren't a big deal. There are many things that are big deals going on in the world like the Fiji crisis, what happened in Paris and the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of orphans and children in the foster care system that need homes and aren’t being adopted. These are things that are big deals. I think it’s a shame we try and make a big deal about something small like that.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s a typical Robertson Thanksgiving like other than being rather large (laughs)?
Korie Robertson: (laughs). Okay. Yes. It is large, and it’s loud. There’s lots of food. We all get together, and everybody cooks and pitches in. But for Thanksgiving, Phil makes the dressing. He is the dressing maker, and it takes all day to do it. I said one year that I wanted to learn, but there are so many ingredients and it takes so long, I was like, “Okay. I guess I’ll just let Phil continue to make the dressing.” Willie usually fries the turkey, and Kay does all the side dishes and makes every kind of pie you can think of from coconut to pumpkin to apple to chocolate.
It’s just good food and good times together, telling stories and sitting around the table like most of America probably does on Thanksgiving. We do the Robertson family, and then we do my side of the family, so we’re stuffed by the time it’s over. Usually on my side of the family, we have a football game in the afternoon, and it’s a lot of fun.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): My husband is a better cook than I am, and I’m good with that.
Korie Robertson: Me, too. I’m in total agreement with that. Willie’s the cook at our house, and I’m totally fine with that.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): To what do you attribute the success of Duck Dynasty?
Korie Robertson: I think that people were looking for something positive. There are so many tough things going on in the world. I think people wanted to see something positive, a family that sticks together that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. We laugh and have a good time together, and at the end of the day, we sit down and acknowledge that there’s something bigger than us. That’s God, and we give thanks to Him for what we have right there in front of us. So I think it was something that people in our country were looking for, that positivity and that fun. That’s what we hear a lot from people.
Someone says, “I went through a tough time. I had cancer and was in the hospital. I just watched episodes of Duck Dynasty to make me laugh and feel better.” I can’t tell you how many times we hear things like that. Or someone says, “My husband passed away, and it was such a dark time in my life that I could just watch Duck Dynasty and laugh and feel good.” I think that’s a big part of it.
If that’s what we do in this world, then I would deem it a success. If we can make people feel good and look to something positive in tough times, then I think that’s a pretty good thing.
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