Sarah Palin: Bristol & Levi 'Working Their Butts Off to Parent'
updated 01/02/2008 AT 05:00 PM EST
•originally published 12/31/2008 AT 04:55 PM EST
"You need to know that both Levi and Bristol are working their butts off to parent and going to school and working at the same time," Palin told PEOPLE in a phone message Wednesday. "They are certainly not high school dropouts."
The former vice presidential candidate said she wanted to be clear about their continuing work toward high school degrees because any suggestion otherwise "harms Bristol's reputation and Levi's reputation and their chances for good work opportunities."
In a statement Wednesday on her Web site, the governor said the two "have faith they've made the right decision in setting aside their own interests to make this child their highest priority."
While Bristol, 18, said in the statement that her situation isn't "ideal," she acknowledged that her family has been supportive. "Tripp is so perfectly precious; we love him with all our hearts. I can't imagine life without him now."
PEOPLE reported this week that the new mom, who gave birth on Saturday, intends to finish her high school degree through correspondence courses. Levi, also 18, told the AP in October that he had left high school to enroll in an apprenticeship program training him as an electrician.
Gov. Palin told PEOPLE at the time that she hoped Levi would eventually earn a GED, adding, "I respect that Levi is out there working hard."