Call him unpredictable, a brilliant businessman, rude, refreshingly bold, or egregious, but there is one thing we should call Donald Trump: a good father. And this counts for a lot.
After hearing Ivanka talk about her father in multiple interviews, there is no question that this young woman respects and feels very close to her father.
She credits him with much of her professional success, which is quite impressive. During an interview at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women conference, Ivanka praised her father for being a good listener and leader. She said that she is the highest female executive at his business and that her professional success proves that her dad champions women.
She has a point. As a pediatrician of thirty years, I’ve studied fathers and their relationships with their children—especially their daughters. And from what Ivanka displays, it appears her father did a lot of things right.
Here’s what we know about fathers. Toddlers who have engaged fathers are better at solving puzzles. Children with fathers at home are more likely to succeed in school, are less likely to get into trouble, and endure depression or anxiety, and are more likely to have higher self-esteem. And that’s just the beginning.
Much of a girl’s sense of value comes from her father, and we know that the best way to elevate a girl’s self-esteem is to have her father show her more affection. Forget piano lessons, an ice-hockey trainer or personal soccer coach. These make her feel that she can perform well, but they don’t insure that her self-esteem will go up. Affection from her father does.
The hallmarks of good fathers are warmth, availability, concern with a child’s character, patience, and commitment to their children. In an interview with Daily Mail, Ivanka stated that her father was always available to her and described him as warm.
She remembers feeling that she and her siblings were the most important things in her father’s life. She played in conference rooms while he held meetings and sometimes interrupted them to attend to his children. When she was six years old, he told her about a real-estate transaction he was finishing and that he couldn’t wait until she grew up and joined him in his work.
This is important because it shows us something about Trump’s character. Raising a strong daughter requires deep character in a father. He taught Ivanka to work hard, and he believed in her ability to excel in the professional world. Any daughter will tell you that when her dad says she is capable, then she is. Gospel truth.
She believes that she is smart and can accomplish anything that she sets her mind to do. Mothers tell us we’re strong, smart, and capable and we believe them. But—we feel that our mothers have to say these things. When our fathers express belief in us, it sinks deeper.
One might conclude that Donald had to encourage Ivanka to rise to the upper echelon of business because she was his daughter. Not so. Many fathers with bright daughters don’t do this. They focus more on the success of their sons or themselves. Fathers who push daughters to succeed do so because down deep, they champion women the same way they champion men. That’s why it’s hard to see Trump as chauvinistic.
Ivanka also describes her father’s relationships with his ex-wives as amiable. She says that all of her step-siblings get along well and that Trump fostered this by maintaining good relationships with his ex-wives.
While none of us knows what kind of husband he was, the fact that the exes and siblings get along is remarkable. Many fathers forget that daughters and sons need healthy relationships with their mothers. When a divorce occurs, fathers often get caught up in hurt and anger with their ex-wives, and this causes terrible suffering to the children.
Many in America claim that our children are in dire straits because our schools are poor. The answer: hire better teachers. Build better buildings and offer more services to the kids.
Others claim that the bigger problems children face are related to drugs and gang violence. The answer? Send more police to inner cities to stop it. Clamp down on drug dealers. Many mothers in the African American communities are overwrought. They work multiple jobs to care for their children, and still many find their sons lured into brotherhood by gangs. Of course, other ethnic groups similarly struggle, but the truth is a sobering 70 percent of African American children grow up without a father in the home.
We can create programs, change school systems, and find more money to help those in need, but if we stick to these changes alone, we miss the bigger picture. The answer to many of our children’s problems is men.
Good fathers who care for their children. If every father were encouraged to engage his children and stay committed to them, we would live in an entirely different country. Our schools would be safer. Gangs would disintegrate because the older men in the communities would stand up to them. Our neighborhoods would be less violent, and children could actually pay attention in school because they wouldn’t be worried about home. Our jails would empty, and far fewer kids would turn to drugs or gangs to have their needs met.
Why is it that in a country educating the brightest men and women on earth, we completely overlook our most valuable assets—fathers? Call him what you will, but as far as I see it, Donald Trump may well lead the way in this regard.
I don’t know if Donald Trump is the right man for president, but if I were in charge of his campaign I would get Ivanka on the stage as frequently as possible. Because when she opens her mouth to speak, no one can claim that her father missed the boat regarding his most important job: being her dad.
Dr. Meg Meeker has spent over thirty years practicing pediatric and adolescent medicine and counseling teens and parents. She a co-host of Dr. James Dobson’s nationally syndicated daily radio program Family Talk , and the bestselling author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know. The follow-up companion guide, the Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters Devotional: 52 Devotions Every Father Needs, is available everywhere May 9.