What the Trump Family's Had to Say About Fatherhood — and Donald as a Dad — Isn't Exactly Heartwarming
With Father's Day right around the corner, a look back at Donald Trump's commentary on fatherhood — and what his kids have said about him as a dad — hint at family tensions and not exactly model parental behavior by the father of five
President Donald Trump has often called himself a “great father” and for the most part, his adult children, Don Jr., 40, Ivanka, 36, Eric, 34, and Tiffany, 24, seem to agree. (His youngest son, Barron, 12, hasn’t yet spoken out on the subject.)
But with Father’s Day right around the corner, a look back at Trump’s commentary on fatherhood — and what his kids have said about him as a dad — hint at family tensions and not exactly model parental behavior by the father of five (by three wives).
Here are some of the family’s most illuminating quotes on fatherhood, Trump-style.
1. He hesitated to give Don Jr. his name because “what if he’s a loser?”
In her recent memoir, Raising Trump, the president’s first wife, Ivana — who is mom to Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka — recalls Trump balking when she suggested naming their firstborn son Donald Jr. “What if he’s a loser?” Trump said, according to Ivana.
2. In 1990, a young Don Jr., upset about his parents’ divorce, reportedly told his father, “You don’t love us!”
As Trump’s very public affair with Marla Maples made tabloid headlines in the early 1990s, then-12-year-old Don Jr. blamed his parents’ split on his father.
“How can you say you love us? You don’t love us! You don’t even love yourself. You just love your money,” Don Jr. reportedly told his father, according to a Vanity Fair article published at the time.
(Don Jr. later told New York magazine in 2004, “Listen, it’s tough to be a 12-year-old. You’re not quite a man, but you think you are. You think you know everything. Being driven into school every day and you see the front page and it’s divorce! THE BEST SEX I EVER HAD! And you don’t even know what that means.”)
3. But Ivanka said that, “bizarrely” enough, the divorce brought her and her siblings closer to their father
Ivanka reflected on her parents’ divorce in a 2004 interview with New York magazine, saying, “Bizarrely, it also made us closer to Dad. … Every morning before school, we’d go downstairs and give him a hug and a kiss. We didn’t take his presence for granted anymore.”
4. In 1994, Trump speculated on his then-baby daughter Tiffany’s future ‘assets’
In a 1994 episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Trump spoke about the attributes Tiffany, then 1, had inherited from him and his second wife, Marla Maples.
“I think that she’s got a lot of Marla, she’s really a beautiful baby,” Trump said.
“She’s got Marla’s legs. We don’t know whether or not she’s got this part yet but time will tell,” he added, holding his hands in front of his chest to represent breasts.
5. He said men who take of their kids are “acting like the wife”
On the Opie and Anthony show in 2005, Trump said changing his children’s diapers was just “not for him.” “There’s a lot of women out there that demand that the husband act like the wife and you know there’s a lot of husbands that listen to that… I’m really like a great father but certain things you do and certain things you don’t,” he said. “It’s just not for me.”
6. His first wife, Ivana, confirmed that Trump has “never changed a diaper” and was too busy “making the business” to play with his kids
Ivana said on The Ray D’Arcy Show last year that Trump “loved the kids, but he would not really be the dad who would take them for a stroll in the Central Park in the stroller or go and play soccer with them or do something like that. He was always on the phone making the business.”
7. His idea of good parenting is “supplying the funds”
In a 2005 interview with Howard Stern, Trump said he “won’t do anything to take care of” his kids. “I’ll supply funds and she’ll take care of the kids. It’s not like I’m gonna be walking the kids down Central Park. Marla used to say, ‘I can’t believe you’re not walking Tiffany down the street,’ you know in a carriage. Right, I’m gonna be walking down Fifth Avenue with a baby in a carriage. It just didn’t work.”
8. Marla Maples said that when it came to raising their daughter, Tiffany, Trump was generous with his money — but not his time
“Her daddy is a good provider with education and such, but as far as time, it was just me,” Maples once told PEOPLE of raising Tiffany largely on her own. “Her father wasn’t able to be there with day-to-day skills as a parent. He loves his kids. There’s no doubt. But everything was a bit of a negotiation.”
9. During a 2006 appearance on The View, he infamously said that “if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her”
Trump has raised eyebrows in the past over sexually charged comments he’s made about his daughter Ivanka. In another interview with Stern in 2003, Trump said his daughter had “the best body.” In yet another sit-down, Trump gave the radio host the okay to call Ivanka a “piece of ass.”
10. Trump said he was “less” proud of Tiffany than his other children
In November 2016, Trump told Fox & Friends how proud he was of all of his adult kids, but “to a lesser extent… Tiffany.”
“I’m very proud, because Don and Eric and Ivanka and — you know, to a lesser extent ’cause she just got out of school, out of college — but, uh, Tiffany, who has also been so terrific,” he said. “They work so hard.”
11. He’s competitive — even with his children
In a 2004 interview with New York magazine, Ivanka said she and her siblings “were sort of bred to be competitive.”
“Dad encourages it,” she added. “I remember skiing with him and we were racing. I was ahead, and he reached his ski pole out and pulled me back.”
12. Don Jr. wishes his father was more “understanding”
Asked in that same interview whether there was anything he would change about his parents, Don Jr. said, “My father could be more understanding of things he doesn’t . . . understand. You know? If I want to go fishing rather than play golf, it’s always like, ‘Why would you go fishing all weekend? I don’t get it! It’s crazy!’ ”
13. Trump once called himself a “really good father, but not a really good husband”
Trump made that self-assessment in the same New York magazine story, adding, “You’ve probably figured out my children really like me — love me — a lot.”
14. He had trouble finding time to spend with his kids
He also told New York, “The hardest thing for me about raising kids has been finding the time. I know friends who leave their business so they can spend more time with their children, and I say, ‘Gimme a break!’ My children could not love me more if I spent 15 times more time with them.”
15. Don Jr. and Eric confessed that Trump wasn’t exactly the best father figure
“Donnie’s always been my friend, a mentor,” Eric said of his older brother in 2006. “In a way, he raised me. My father, I love and I appreciate, but he always worked 24 hours a day.”
And Don Jr. told a reporter in 2004, “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.”