Ivanka Trump Reveals What It Was Really Like Growing Up With a Dad Like Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, has seemingly stirred up just as much controversy in recent years as her dad has. A life in the spotlight prepared her for the business and political savvy likely required to survive a parent’s term in the White House. But she also has her Trump childhood — and the advice of her dad — to thank for getting her this far.

Looking back, she revealed what it was really like growing up in the simultaneous spotlight and shadow of the Trump Organization — and the man who started it all.

Ivanka will never forget Donald’s public affair

Donald Trump’s affair with Marla Maples was hard on her. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

She and her brothers had an understandably negative reaction to finding out about Donald Trump’s relationship with Marla Maples. According to their mother, Ivana, they didn’t speak to their father for a year after they learned about what happened.

Next: Her father was very protective.

She went to boarding school to escape her parents’ messy divorce

Donald and Ivana Trump

She was sent away to avoid the contentious divorce. | Swerzey/AFP/Getty Images

Ivana and Donald Trump’s separation is still one of the most expensive celebrity divorces of all time. To shield Ivanka and her brothers from the unwanted attention surrounding the family, their father sent them to boarding school.

Next: He wasn’t around much.

He was busy building an empire …

Donald Trump kisses his daughter Ivanka Trump

Donald Trump was rebuilding as she grew up. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

As she grew up, Ivanka watched her father begin to build his business from nothing to something big. He spent a lot of time physically away from her and her brothers. But Ivanka promised “he always made us his top priority,” she told CNN. “It doesn’t mean he was home every night for dinner — he wasn’t. He was working very hard.”

Next: He was just a phone call away.

… But he was ‘always available’

Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Tiffany Trump and Ivanka Trump in 2006

Ivanka Trump said even though her dad wasn’t always around, he was just a phone call away. | Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Maybe the Trump kids couldn’t always count on sitting down to dinner with dad. But according to Ivanka, he was “always available,” even if he wasn’t physically around. He would answer her phone calls during business meetings and make time for her even if he didn’t see her for nights on end.

Next: He taught her to be apologetically opinionated.

She never hesitated to share her opinions with him

Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump

She shares her opinions with him. | Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

In the Trump household, no opinions were off-limits. Regardless of whether they were listened to, they were always respected.

Ivanka told CNN of her father, “Part of the reason we have such a good relationship is because he respects me and because I’m candid in my opinions and I share them — solicited or otherwise.” She went on to say, “My father’s always elicited strong opinions in people. He’s bold, he’s unabashed, he’s very himself.”

Next: He offered his best career advice.

He gave his daughter the best career advice a dad can give

Trump Tower stands along 5th Avenue in Manhattan as police stand guard outside

She ended up back in the family business. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

According to CNN, Donald told Ivanka and her siblings, “You’ll never be able to compete at the highest level if you don’t deeply love what it is that you do.” He made it clear he didn’t expect any of them to enter the family business if they didn’t want to.

She did join the Trump Organization for a time, after deciding a career in modeling wasn’t for her. She is also an independent entrepreneur.

Next: She appreciates the way he raised her.

The household rules were strict for the kids

Eric Trump, Lara Yunaska Trump, Donald Trump, Barron Trump, Melania Trump, Vanessa Haydon Trump, Kai Madison Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Donald John Trump III, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Tiffany Trump pose for photos on stage.

The Trump family members have an idea about the real world. | Christopher Gregory/Getty Images

The children had all the ingredients for a recipe of privileged disaster: physically absent parents, millions of dollars at their fingertips, and prep school upbringings. However, according to Ivanka, their parents, “always made sure that we lived within some realm of reality.”

Donald Jr. noted that while they were spoiled in many ways, their parents always taught them to understand the value of their own dollar. “If there was something we wanted, we had to earn it. Even in college, we were very fiscally responsible.”

Next: She still supports her dad.

She still supports her dad, no matter what

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and their kids

She looks up to him as a role model. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Despite the ups and downs of growing up Trump, Ivanka has built businesses and even a family of her own. She says she appreciates him as a dad now more than ever. “Now that I’m a parent I realize how difficult it is,” she told People. “He was tough, firm, but always available to us.”

She now works alongside her father and siblings inside and outside the White House, doing her best to balance it all: family, business, and politics.

Additional reporting by Emma Bleznak.

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