When Priscilla Presley Realized She’d ‘Neglected’ Elvis Presley’s Daughter

Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley had one daughter together: Lisa Marie Presley. With Elvis away from home so often, parenting responsibilities often fell to Priscilla. At one point, Priscilla could see that her focus on Elvis may not have been the best thing for their daughter.

Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley with their daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, near a car
Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley with their daughter, Lisa Marie Presley | Keystone/Getty Images

Priscilla Presley was parenting her daughter alone

In her book Elvis and Me, Priscilla revealed her marriage was suffering when the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll started performing in Las Vegas more. “Our marriage was now part-time,” she recalled. “He wanted freedom to come and go as he pleased — and he did.” She said Elvis was “attentive” to both her and his daughter when he was at home. “But it was clearly understood that I was mainly responsible for the parenting of Lisa,” she said.

When Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s daughter cried in front of them during a photo shoot

Priscilla became concerned about her relationship with Lisa Marie one day as she and her daughter were about to take a family portrait with Elvis. Lisa Marie’s nurse was combing her hair while Priscilla was dressing her. When Priscilla told her daughter they were leaving, Lisa Marie refused and clung to her nurse. Then Lisa Marie began to cry.

Priscilla Presley putting her arm around Elvis Presley and holding Lisa Marie Presley
Elvis Presley, Priscilla Presley, and their daughter Lisa Marie Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Priscilla recalled Lisa Marie getting fussy during the photo shoot. “Each shot was an effort as we tried to coax her to laugh,” she wrote. “For a moment we would be successful but then tears would reappear.” Lisa Marie even cried while she was on Elvis’ lap.

During the photo shoot, Priscilla realized she had neglected her daughter. “That’s when it hit me,” she said. “My God, she’s so attached to the nurse that she doesn’t want to leave her. Now I knew I had to find more time to be with her. She had been affected by my own predicament. Busy centering my life around Elvis even during his absence, I had neglected not only my needs but my daughter’s as well.”

What Priscilla Presley did to turn things around with Lisa Marie Presley

After the photo shoot, Priscilla dedicated more time to her daughter. She took Lisa Marie to parks and parties. She also brought her to the YWCA for swimming lessons. Because Elvis was away so much, Priscilla would take lots of pictures and home movies of Lisa Marie and send them to Elvis.

Priscilla Presley and Lisa Marie Presley on the red carpet
Priscilla Presley and singer Lisa Marie Presley | Bryan Steffy/WireImage

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How Priscilla Presley later described her method of parenting her daughter

In a 2012 interview with The Guardian, Priscilla talked about her parenting. “I was the disciplinarian and there were times when Lisa didn’t like it but you can’t live life without boundaries,” she said. “I was very subtle and very calm, and she knows this now.” While Priscilla felt she’d neglected her daughter at one point, it seemed she took a more hands-on approach to parenting at other times.