Growing up Trump — it sounds like the makings of a reality show. But what would it really entail? The Trump children lived most of their childhood and young adult lives avoiding the spotlight. The youngest Trump, Baron, is a prime example; we know little more about him other than he’s the first “first boy” to live in the White House in over 50 years.
What we have discovered about the older Trump children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric (there is little information about Tiffany, the infamous “forgotten Trump“), is surprising.
Trump wasn’t physically available to his children growing up
Trump and his first wife, Ivana, left the three eldest Trumps in the care of two Irish nannies, Dorothy and Bridget. They also lived with their maternal grandparents, Milos and Maria Zelnicek, in the Trump Tower for months at a time. Eric and Donald Jr. eventually went off to boarding school at the Hill School in Pennsylvania, while Ivanka attended Choate in Connecticut.
“My father is a very hardworking guy, and that’s his focus in life, so I got a lot of the paternal attention that a boy wants and needs from my grandfather,” Donald Jr. told New York Magazine in 2004.
He never pressured them to go into real estate
“(He would) almost undermine my thought process about coming into the family business, because he wanted to make sure that I knew that it wasn’t an expectation of his,” Ivanka told CNN, “He always said to us, ‘You’ll never be able to compete at the highest level if you don’t deeply love what it is that you do.'”
While the three oldest children have taken part in the family business — Donald Jr. managed the existing property portfolio, Ivanka oversaw the family’s hotels, and Eric managed the family’s golf assets — they’ve explored other interests, too.
Trump didn’t think the kids could be successful
Trump has made some controversial statements about his children (most people are fairly sure he’d be dating his daughter if he could), but what did the real estate mogul, reality show star, and current POTUS think of them growing up?
“Statistically, my children have a very bad shot,” Trump told Playboy in 1990. “Children of successful people are generally very, very troubled, not successful.” They definitely proved him wrong.
The children wish their father would act more ‘presidential’
Don’t we all? “There’s definitely times when I was younger,” Ivanka said on The Oprah Winfrey Show, “I was going, ‘Did you have to say that, Dad?'” Ivanka and America alike continue to feel that way about the POTUS.
Both Ivanka and Melania Trump have expressed their desire for Trump to act more “presidential.” We can assume Ivanka’s said these words to her father; she told TIME, ” … he respects me and … I’m candid in my opinions and I share them — solicited or otherwise.” Notably, he isn’t a great listener; “Sometimes [he listens], and sometimes he doesn’t, or sometimes he listens for limited periods of times,” she said.
Close confidants call the Trump kids down-to-earth
Whatever the public may have to say about them, those close to the three oldest Trump kids report they’re surprisingly down-to-earth. A woman who went to the University of Pennsylvania with Donald Jr. told New York Magazine, “He was almost disappointingly normal.”
“Part of their solidness is that he [Donald Trump] wasn’t around when they were very young, and their early bonding comes from the nannies, who … were very nice,” said Joshua Kendall, author of First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama. “He wasn’t their major attachment figure.”
They did their best to stay out of the tabloids as kids
There are few headlines today that a Trump doesn’t dominate. This wasn’t always the case, however. “They sheltered me, as much as they could, from the media,” Ivanka said on The Oprah Winfrey Show. At the height of their infamously messy divorce, Ivana took the kids to Mar-a-Lago to continue schooling with tutors out of the public eye.
The household rules were strict for the kids
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.”