5 Things We Learned When PEOPLE Sat Down with the Whole Trump Family

"He was tough, firm, but always available to us," Ivanka Trump said of her father

Photo: ZUMA Wire

Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign has always been a family affair, and it’s never been more apparent than this week, as his wife and children take center stage at the Republican National Convention.

Would-be first lady Melania kicked off the convention Monday night with a speech that has become mired in controversy, and Donald’s daughter Tiffany and son Donald Jr. also delivered remarks on Tuesday night. Still slated to speak this week are Trump’s other daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son Eric Trump.

The only one of Trump’s children who won’t speak at the convention is his son with Melania, Barron – who’s 10.

Last fall, PEOPLE Editorial Director Jess Cagle and Senior Editor Charlotte Triggs sat down with all of Trump’s closest relatives for their first official family interview. In light of their ever-growing roles in the campaign, PEOPLE brings you five interesting things we learned from our sitdown with the Trumps: Donald, Melania, Ivanka, Eric, Donald Jr., Tiffany and even Barron.

1. Trump’s children agree he’s always been a protective and attentive father.

After Donald and first wife Ivana Trump split in 1990, they sent their three children, Donald Jr., now 38, Ivanka, 34, and Eric, 32, to boarding school to shield them from the tabloid circus surrounding the divorce. (“It was just too much,” Trump told PEOPLE in September.)

“He’s been protecting us from the public eye for a long time,” Eric said of his father. “We never made the tabloids when we were younger. He was the man that, his whole life, he’s always had thousands of cameras on him and yet we were raised as normal kids, or at least as normal as you could be raised under the circumstances.”

“When we were kids, we’d be sitting in a boardroom while he was negotiating a deal, and if we were playing with trucks, making noise, it didn’t matter,” recalled Donald Jr., who is now married with five children of his own.

And Ivanka added, “He was tough, firm, but always available to us.”

2. Ivanka’s 5-year-old daughter, Arabella, already takes after her grandfather in at least one way.
“My daughter saw a pothole and said, ‘Grandpa would not like that,’ ” Ivanka recalled with a laugh. “The fact that my daughter sees a crack and says that would be unacceptable to grandpa is a testament to the fact that she has observed him time and time again walking job sites, pushing the team to do the very best.”

3. Trump’s children credit him for fostering closeness among the whole family – ex-wives included.
“We work together every single day. We travel together oftentimes for work and when we’re not working, the very little free time that we take for ourselves, we’re vacationing together,” said Eric. “It’s a special bond and I can count on them and they count on me.”

“We are really close,” added Tiffany. “Ivanka always helped me whenever I needed her to. With internships and advice on life, from girly situations to education and everything. And Melania is so sweet and such a good mother to Barron. My mom [Marla Maples] thinks Melania is an amazing person. I’m blessed to have a dad who’s always there for me and a mom who’s always there for me and they’re on good terms.”

Added Melania of her husband’s children from previous marriages, “I’m their friend. I’m not their mom. I met them when they were teenagers. I went to their high school graduations and college graduations, so we know each other for a long time.”

4. Donald and Melania don’t have nannies for Barron.
“We keep it down to a minimum,” said Donald, 70, who has staff to help with cooking and housework, but no nanny in the traditional sense. “If you have too much help, you don’t get to know your children.”

And Melania, 46, who has spent much of her husband’s campaign on the sidelines, explained at the time that she thinks it’s very important to be a “hands-on mom.” “Barron needs somebody as a parent, so I am with him all the time. As you know my husband is traveling all the time.”

For Barron’s part, the idea of being a First Son is “a little scary,” his dad told PEOPLE at the time. “He thinks he is going to be taken away from friends. But I tell him if this happens, Daddy will help people, and can help children like him, and that makes him happy.”

5. Melania supports her husband’s controversial views on immigration.
The Slovenian-born former model, who is a naturalized citizen of the U.S., told PEOPLE, “I went through a whole long process [to become a citizen]. It didn’t even cross my mind to just stay here. I think people should follow the law.”

And while she’s raising her son to speak both English and Slovenian, she echoed her husband’s beliefs about foreign languages: “My opinion is that more languages you speak, better it is, but but when you come to America, you speak English.”

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