Ivanka Trump on Being Protected by the Scandal of Her Parents' Split

Trump tells PEOPLE her parents "did a remarkable job protecting us from something largely outside of their control"

Photo: Christian Witkin

In an expansive two-part interview with PEOPLE this week, Ivanka Trump is opening up about balancing her many businesses, raising three children with her husband Jared Kushner and dealing with the demands of her Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Ivanka Trump is the first to acknowledge that her childhood was extremely privileged.

As the daughter of billionaire businessman turned presidential candidate father Donald Trump, 70, and his first wife, Ivana, 67, “I grew up in an environment where I had access to many luxuries that are highly unusual,” the entrepreneur and mother of three, 34, tells PEOPLE. “My parents didn’t have to worry about putting food on our table, they could afford to send us to the best schools we could get into. I’m enormously grateful for that.”

But they also dealt with tough times.

Ivanka was just a little girl when her parents split – and a tabloid scandal exploded when it was revealed that Trump had had an affair with Marla Maples, who later became his second wife. But Ivanka says her parents worked hard to shield her and her brothers Donald Jr. and Eric from the explosive fallout.

“They did a remarkable job protecting us from something largely outside of their control,” Ivanka says. “We didn’t have newspapers in the house for a significant period of time and the TV wasn’t on when they weren’t there. So they tried to mitigate the attention that that moment received.”

Although her parents duked it out publicly in the New York City tabloids as the costly divorce dragged on, at home, they remained composed and never spoke ill of one another, Ivanka says.

“Really the way in which they helped us the most was by being supportive with one another, not disparaging the other in front of us, recognizing that and communicating that there was still tremendous affection between them and that there would always be great love for us,” she says.

“And I think in retrospect, I became closer with both of my parents because I was at that stage in life where you do take your parents for granted and something like that happens and maybe you stop taking them for granted as much,” she says. “They made a real effort to ensure that we knew that they would always be there for us and accessible to us and it helped us through a difficult time.”

For more from Ivanka Trump, including her life as a mom, business woman and daughter on the campaign trail, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

These days, Trump and Ivana “are very close. It’s actually, it’s amazing,” Ivanka reveals. “They were together for many years, they raised three children together and they have a great relationship. I’m very fortunate for that.”

For her part, Ivanka has developed a special bond with her little sister, Tiffany, 22, Trump’s daughter with Maples.

Though Tiffany was raised in California by Maples after she divorced Trump in 1999, meaning the siblings were not always nearby, “we would see each other on all of the holidays and talk to each other frequently,” Ivanka says. “She’s my little sister! I’ve been close to Tiffany her whole life, and I really love her.”

When asked if she is close with Maples, Ivanka is very clear: “I’m not,” she says. “She was out in California and really my relationship is with Tiffany.”

But now that Tiffany lives in N.Y.C., and has become involved in her father’s campaign as well, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in May, “it’s wonderful because she’s right here in New York. She’ll come with [me and Jared to our country house] on weekends sometimes, and she’s always with my kids,” Ivanka says. “She’s a really good person.”

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