Donald Trump has made it clear over the years that parenting is "not his thing." In fact, based on all he's said about parenting, there are a lot of things Trump doesn't understand about most parents' lives, it seems. During the second presidential debate, both candidates were asked, "Can you name one positive thing you respect in one another?" Donald Trump praised Hillary Clinton's tenacity. Clinton said she respected Trump's children. "His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald." I thought both were well thought out and gracious answers, but I also found Clinton's answer generous.
Look, I don't know the Trumps. I saw Ivanka at a charity event once, where I heard her suggest going to a kosher steakhouse for dinner afterwards, but that is literally the extent of my first-hand knowledge of any of them. So, far be it from me to suggest what kind of relationship Trump has or doesn't have with his kids. However, what I will say is that numerous interviews regarding Trump's parenting philosophy shows that he favors a hands-off approach to fatherhood and that his way of expressing love for his children is based largely on his ability to provide extravagantly for them (a parenting style few have the luxury of even attempting).
All this, of course, is to say nothing of his political policies, which provide further evidence that his knowledge of the day-to-day travails of most American parents is something he has neither experienced nor cares to learn more about. What specifically doesn't Mr. Trump know when it comes to parenthood?
Literally Anything About Actually Caring For A Child
Perhaps you think I'm being hyperbolic. I assure you, I'm not. In a 2005 interview with Howard Stern, Trump said of his children.
“I mean, I won’t do anything to take care of them. 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.”
I find it interesting that the responsibilities are positioned right alongside something leisurely, like taking one's kids to the park. So if you're not providing any of the care-giving responsibilities or even doing any of the fun parent-kid routine stuff, what exactly are you doing? Providing funds for someone isn't being a parent, it's being a patron.
If you're looking to connect with Trump on a parent-to-parent level, please be assured that he probably won't understand what you're talking about half the time, because he doesn't seem to have any practical experience in this regard. At least not in the way most of us do.
Attempting to Maintain A Work-Life Balance
I mean, I guess it's pretty easy when you've expressed zero desire to really interact with your children more than perfunctorily (he once described seeing his daughter Tiffany for hour-long visits and "glancing" at her report cards). Obviously, a healthy work-life balance is a huge point of concern for American parents, and this dude has no clue.
Working To Achieve An Equitable Division Of Labor While Parenting With A Partner
The same year he talked about not doing anything to actually care for his children, Trump doubled down on Opie and Anthony, emphatically assuring them that he would not change the diapers of his (then still gestating) fifth child.
“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. So you know, they go for it... I’m really, like, a great father, but certain things you do and certain things you don’t. It’s just not for me.”
Actually, when you're a parent, there really aren't certain things you don't do when it comes to providing basic care for your kid, and I think the vast majority of parents would agree. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that most of us get that willingness to do anything to care for your child is what being a parent means. Are there families who divide labor in a particular way that means one parent provides most of the childcare? Sure. Are there families in which one parent will be gone for long-stretches of time (as in the military)? Of course. This doesn't mean the parent doing less in terms of childcare is a "bad parent." However, one's willingness to do these things is necessary to be considered "a great father."
Also, let's back up just for a second and discuss what it means to "demand that the husband act like the wife." Most hetero, married parents at least attempt to divvy up the parenting responsibilities (even if they don't always succeed in making things perfectly equitable). And, um, "act like the wife?" Are you a Victorian marriage manual? WTF is going on with this outdated, sexist gender role bullsh*t? Get on our level dude. Most of us have been here since at least the '70s. Jeez.
Women Who Have Given Birth Aren't The Only Ones Who Need Family Leave For A New Baby
Trump's maternity leave proposal, championed by none-other than his daughter Ivanka, has some major issues. The plan is six-weeks of paid leave for new mothers which, I'll admit, is a nice improvement over the complete lack of a paid leave plan the United States provides today. (It's still insufficient, but the fact that any politician — let alone a Republican politician — is making this an issue is commendable.)
Here's the catch, though (obviously there's a catch): this plan would apply only to new mothers who gave birth to their child. This leaves out all male parents, all adoptive parents, and non-gestational parents. Given his past statements about mothers, fathers, and child-rearing, this probably shouldn't strike anyone as a surprise, although Ivanka seemed pretty thrown off when asked about it in a Cosmopolitan interview.
What A "Working Family" Actually Is
As with his maternity leave policy, his family leave policy also leaves some lingering questions that largely boil down to, "And who is this helping, exactly?" Because child care tax breaks and benefits would only apply to those families who pay income tax, which effectively leaves out approximately half of all Americans. To say his plan "incompletely" addresses the issue would be pretty generous.
What It Means To Worry About Money
Does this even need to be said? Not only is he a billionaire (though, admittedly, not as billionaire-y as he would have us believe, it seems), but he's the son of a multimillionaire. He has repeatedly described $1,000,000 as "a very small" amount of money. I mean, that must be nice.
Look, I'm not begrudging the wealthy their wealth. I do,however, take issue with a politician attempting to appeal to me on issues that he not only has demonstrated no practical knowledge of, but makes no effort to learn about.
That Telling A Woman Her "Most Important Job" Is A Pretty Creepy Thing To Say
Oh thank you, man who doesn't know me, for telling me what I should strive for and how I should define myself because I'm a woman. Whether a woman has children or not doesn't mean she has or hasn't answered her highest calling, and a woman who does have children doesn't need to define herself exclusively or primarily through the lens of that role.
Breastfeeding Isn't Disgusting
When attorney Elizabeth Beck requested a break in a deposition to pump, Trump allegedly called her "disgusting." Most parents are well aware breastfeeding is not disgusting and a primary function of breasts. When this allegation surfaced, Trump doubled down in a tweet (by the way: "Doubling Down in a Tweet" should be his campaign slogan at this point).
So don't get all huffy when you actively court "the mom vote" and they bring to children to a rally and then they cry. You'd think a father of five would get it but, oh. Wait. He skipped that whole "crying baby," thing, no doubt.
Humility Or Doubt
A hallmark of being a typical parent is fretting that you're doing everything you can for your children and learning along the way. Trump, like Mary Poppins, believes he is practically perfect in every way. Perhaps his defining characteristic is his sincere belief that he can do no wrong, knows everything he needs to know, and should never be questioned in any matter, from ISIS to beauty pageants.
So, how can he understand what the average parent goes through as well all admit, "We're human, and we're trying, and sometimes it's really hard."
The great majority of parents know that even suggesting the hypothetical possibility of dating our kids is reserved for the creepiest Roman emperors and Game of Thrones villains. *full body shudder* Poor Ivanka...