By Kate Harveston
Ivanka Trump is currently the first daughter of the United States, and in that position she could potentially do great good or great evil. Growing up as the offspring of one of the most well known people in the world, Ivanka is no stranger to the spotlight.
While news articles are quick to claim that her actions have already betrayed the women she promised to protect and serve while her father was in office, no one has really taken into account her life with her father and his many wives and the impact that growing up with a troubled family life has on an impressionable young woman.
What effects might this have had on Ivanka and how is it affecting her now? Feminists may be disappointed in her actions so far, but many have been motivated by her background.
Divorce Ignores Privilege
Ivanka Trump grew up never wanting for anything — there was always food on the table, a roof over her head, and money to send her to the finest private schools. It’s possible that she had everything she wanted or asked for — except for a stable family life.
Ivanka was only 8 years old when her father, Donald, divorced her mother, Ivana, his first wife. Of course, it was all over the news, but her parents did their best to shield her and her brothers from the coverage, to the point of keeping newspapers out of the house and monitoring their TV usage.
Even if the youngest Trumps weren’t seeing their parent’s divorce on the news, they were still experiencing it firsthand. Research has shown children of a divorce often have trouble regulating their emotions, feel distress and may experience poor academic performance.
Skeletons in the Closet
As much as they may have tried to shield their children from the details of their divorce, once you start running for political office, the press digs up all your skeletons. In Ivanka’s case, it was the details of her parents’ divorce, court documents that outlined what the Trump children experienced during those years.
These court documents brought to light the way Ivana allegedly felt during her years as Donald’s wife — verbally abused and in a loveless marriage. While Ivana may have had some ulterior motives in the divorce, as many people do when it comes to the division of assets during such an event, it’s not something that was mentioned during Trump’s trip down the campaign trail.
These skeletons probably brought to the forefront emotions that Ivanka felt when she was a child — fear of abandonment and a disbelief in love, just to name a few.
Daddy’s Troubled History With Women
There is also Donald Trump’s complicated history with women to consider. From sexual assault claims that date back to the 1980s, to years of body shaming and misogynistic comments to the recordings that surfaced with our commander in chief talking about “grabbing them by the p****,” Ivanka’s father has always had a complicated relationship with women. And by complicated, we mean he has never respected them, a trend that continues now that he’s in office — but we digress.
Imagine growing up as a young woman in the Trump household, surrounded by utter disrespect for your gender.
A study presented to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology found the daughters of sexist fathers may have less ambition than those girls who are respected and encouraged by their dads. While Ivanka does not seem to lack ambition, much of her success is due to working in various places in her father’s business — first as a judge for “Celebrity Apprentice,” then as VP for the Trump Organization and now as assistant to the president.
She does have her own fashion line, but most of her success is tied to the family name.
The After-Effects of Divorce
Donald has also been married 3 times — first to Ivanka’s mother, then to beauty queen Marla Maples, and now to his current wife and first lady, Melania. While one divorce has an impact on children, even ones that aren’t as high profile as the proceedings between Donald and Ivana, multiple divorces compound the problems.
Children in families like these grow up without a stable role model — parents who marry and divorce repeatedly tend to be overly impulsive and lack the ability to maintain stable relationships. They also tend to pass that lack of stability on to their children.
Ivanka seems to show some of that same impulsivity — she and husband Jared married after only 3 months of dating. They’ve been together now for the better part of a decade, but much of that could be attributed to the fact that they’re both workaholics — even their date nights tend to involve their work.
Who Is Ivanka Trump?
So how has growing up in the shadow of our now-president affected Ivanka Trump? Would her career have changed if she hadn’t grown up in a home where she was discouraged simply because of her gender, or if she had stepped away from the family name to make a difference on her own?
We may never know.
She’s grown up with a father who’s told the press it’s fine for them to call his daughter a piece of ass and stated that he’d date her if she wasn’t his daughter. It’s hard to get out from under a shadow like that. Her book, “Women Who Work,” is being torn apart by critics as a tool to exploit feminism for her own gain because she’s never worked, really worked, a day in her life.
Ivanka has made promises to help women but so far hasn’t upheld any of them, choosing instead to walk in her father’s footsteps. She could potentially be a powerhouse in her own right, but until she steps away from the family name or at least sheds the mantle that her father has crafted for her, she won’t be able to make the changes that she really wants to make. We’ll discover in due time whether or not Ivanka can overcome her obstacles and become more of a role model for women.