In her newly published memoir, Raising Trump, Ivana Trump reflects on life as the mother of the three Trump children – Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka – and recounts the lessons she taught her children as they were growing up. Her ex-husband, The 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, has spurred an outcry of media spotlight onto the Trump family and so we turn to Ivana to talk about what life was like in the Trump household. Raising Trump is a non-partisan, non-political book about motherhood, strength, and resilience. Ivana, who raised the children, proudly instilled in them what she believes to be the most important life lessons: loyalty, honesty, integrity and drive.
Nothing is worse than bratty, spoiled rich kids, right? You just want to rip the silver spoon right out of their mouths. Off the top of your head, you can probably think of a few adult children of the super rich who’ve thrown tantrums on airplanes, been arrested for drunk driving, made a sex tape, and wasted every advantage.
My three children – Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric – are the opposite. While campaigning for their father last year, they were praised for their intelligence, poise, dedication, and confidence. Many Americans got their first looks at my kids at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July 2016 when they gave speeches to support their father. Even the liberals on CNN couldn’t think of anything to criticize about them. It is a singular experience for a mother – even one who lived under an intense media spotlight for forty years – to watch her children excel on the world stage. Some people considered the three of them to be Donald Trumps finest accomplishments − including Hillary Clinton. At the town hall-style Presidential debate in October last year, a man in the audience asked the candidates to mention one thing they respected about each other. Hillary said, “I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald.”
The credit for raising such great kids belongs to me. I was totally in charge before our divorce, and I had sole custody after the split. I made the decisions about their education, activities, travel, childcare and allowances. When each one finished college, I said to my ex-husband, “Here is the finished product. Now it’s your turn.”
Donald might not have been the greatest husband to me, but he was a good father to the kids. Obviously, they adore him and are fiercely loyal to him. If he were a horrible Dad, that would not be the case. If Donald wants to write a book about fatherhood, I would be happy to read it, but Raising Trump is my story, from my perspective, about what I did, and still do, for my fantastic family.
It wasn’t easy to raise three kids as a full-time working mother, even with nannies. During my fourteen-year marriage to Donald, I designed the interiors of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and Trump Tower, was president of Trump Castle (the only woman in the top job of any Atlantic City casino) and the Plaza Hotel, winning the prestigious Hotelier of the Year award in 1990. After I left the Trump Organization, I wrote three international best-sellers, and made tens of millions selling House of Ivana clothes, fragrances and jewellery on HSN Tampa, QVC London, and TSC Canada. No matter how busy I was, I had breakfast with my children every day. I sat with them at dinner every night, and helped them with their homework (I loved algebra) before going out in a Versace gown to a rubber chicken charity event. The kids and I celebrated, travelled and grieved together. Our bond was, and is, our most valuable possession.
By all rights, as children of divorce, surrounded by wealth and forced into fame, Don, Ivanka and Eric could have become the most damaged, druggie poor little rich kids on the planet. Instead, the boys are devoted fathers and husbands, and are jointly running a multi-billion dollar company. Ivanka is a marvellous mother and wife, founded her own business selling apparel, jewellery and shoes, authored two books (her new one, Women Who Work, was inspired by me), and is now a special advisor to her father about improving the lives of women and mothers. I think Ivanka played a big part in Donald’s victory. Voters looked at her and thought, “I like her. I trust her. She loves her father so he cant be that bad.” Who knows? One day, she might be the first female – and Jewish – POTUS.
People ask me the secret of my mothering success. There’s no magic recipe to it. I told the kids, “Don’t lie, cheat or steal. Don’t smoke, do drugs or drink.” I was strict and demanding, but always loving and affectionate. I encouraged sports and competitiveness, and enriched their lives by exposing them to different cultures and the arts. I always held them accountable for their actions and didn’t let them get away with anything. I showed them dignity, diligence and determination by example, and gave them age-appropriate responsibilities and rules, which they followed without question, or there’d be hell to pay.
I raised them right and they turned out fabulous. It seems simple. And yet people are shocked that they’re not losers, or in need of a lifetime of intensive therapy. Assumptions about public people are often misguided. If Saturday Night Live were accurate, Don would be stiff, serious and humourless. But he’s actually very sensitive, wryly funny and utterly smitten with his five children and wife Vanessa. Eric is pegged as dimwitted, helpless and naïve, but he’s a master conversationalist, sharply intelligent and full of energy and enthusiasm. And Ivanka. Well. People think she’s all hard polish and elegance, a control freak and little princess, but really, she’s down-to-Earth, empathetic, insightful, vulnerable at times and deeply caring about the people she loves and her causes.
I decided to share some stories about every stage or their lives, from infancy until now, to set the record straight about who they really are. I’m also going to share some stories about my own childhood and early life so you understand exactly who I am. The mother makes the child. I learned everything I needed to know about how to be good parent long before I became the original Mrs. Donald Trump. If you admire my children and would like to raise accomplished, ambitious winners of your own, you’ll pick up some ideas from me on these pages – or from the kids themselves. Don, Ivanka and Eric have contributed their own stories and insights, too, in boxes, like this one:
‟I’m immensely proud of our mother and excited about her writing this book. She is an amazing mom, teacher and inspiration to all of us. Were all incredibly grateful to have grown up in such a loving and close family.”
Not every daughter in the world would be so excited and grateful to have her mother divulge stories about her adolescence and ex-boyfriends. But Ivanka neednt worry. She was very good. If she did anything wrong, she knows I would have killed her.
‟Mom was tough. She did not put up with nonsense, and I love that about her. I think her toughness is her greatest trait. She’s also elegant, charming, and funny. Her personality covers a wide spectrum. There are a lot of people who can be charming, but they might not be tough. Many tough people are not charming or fun. Our mom has a fun little devious laugh. She can tell a story and be so funny conveying a toughness that grips people and commands respect. She is the opposite of a pushover.”
What can I say? The kid gets me.