Rosalynn Carter says her sons worry about the criticism they get for living in the White House, but it costs the public nothing and the first family's unity is "good for the country."

In an interview, she also said daughter Amy isn't bothered by the press coverage some citizens find so upsetting, and there's a special advantage to her new life:

"Jimmy's at home more than he ever has been."

As for the pressures of life at the pinnacle of national politics, she said, they don't compare to what must be endured from opponents in state and local politics.

"After you live with Lester Maddox (Former Georgia Governor and implacable Carter foe) for four years, nothing bothers you," she said.

Discussing a touchy subject that brought Carter a scolding from one caller during his recent phone-in program, Mrs. Carter said sons Chip and Jeff and their wives realize that some citizens resent the fact that they live in the White House.

"They worry a little about it because they don't want people to think they are living off the government, which they are not," she said.

On President Carter's Baptist faith and his declaration of being "born again" in mid-life, she said, "I have the same feeling.

"I think the time I developed the closest personal relationship with Christ was when Jimmy was governor.

"You go for a long time thinking you can solve all of your problems, then suddenly you realize you can't do that. I had a lot of pressures back then, a completely different life. I think I finally realized that you can't do everything . . ."

When that happens, she said, "You realize you're not perfect but you don't have to be. I know I function better now."

Mrs. Carter said she is still exploring the White House and finds living there "awesome." But she says she has no worries about lack of privacy.

Asked whether she played any role as a policy adviser to her husband - as many people suspected she would - she said it depends on the issue.

"There are some things I don't even try to influence him on. Like when people ask him what to do about (Uganda President) Idi Amin," she said.

"But I let him know what I think about many issues, and the family talks about the issues when we get together."