Ivana Trump is writing a memoir about “motherhood, strength and resilience,” the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Raising Trump, available September 12, will focus on Ivana’s life with her children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Trump Jr., and will include contributions from the children themselves. The book will be “non-political,” the publisher said, but it has the potential to be something much more important: a document that puts an end to the stubborn myth that Donald Trump deserves any credit at all for raising his children.
“As her former husband takes his place as the 45th president of the United States, his children have also been thrust into the media spotlight,” reads a statement from Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. “But it is Ivana who raised them and proudly instilled in them what she believes to be the most important life lessons: loyalty, honesty, integrity and drive.”
“It is Ivana who raised them” is a boring press-release-y way of hinting at a bolder claim that Ivana herself has made quite often: She essentially raised her children alone, because Donald Trump had no interest in parenting. “I brought up the children single-handedly,” the president’s first wife remarked at a fundraiser last fall, according to a New York Daily News report. “Donald wasn’t really interested in the children until he could talk business with them.” Earlier that year, she said the same thing in a chatty interview with the fashion publication The Daily. “I really raised them,” she said. “I decided on their schooling and everything they did. When they were 21 and out of university, I gave them to Donald and said, ‘This is the final product—now it’s your job.’” (Trump’s second wife, Marla Maples, has also compared herself to a single mother: “As far as time, it was just me.”)
Ivana’s claims to have parented without much attention or input from her children’s father does not seem to bother him in the least. In fact, he has often bragged about his inattentiveness. The father of five has boasted about not having changed a single diaper. “I won’t do anything to take care of them,” he told Howard Stern in 2005. “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.” In the same interview, he scoffed at his ex-wife Marla Maples’ criticisms of his parenting. “Marla used to say, ‘I can’t believe you’re not walking Tiffany down the street,’ you know, in a carriage,” Trump said. “Right, I’m gonna be walking down Fifth Avenue with a baby in a carriage.” Last year, candidate Trump kicked a mother and her crying baby out of a campaign rally in Virginia, after joking (apparently) that he loved babies. “I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking,” he said with disbelief.
Trump’s consistent disdain for parenting makes it even more baffling that his three oldest children are so often displayed as proof of his character and competence. Let’s set aside whether these individuals are anything to be proud of—they have proven capable to groom themselves decently and stand smiling behind their father, but there is no evidence that any of them possess any values beyond ruthless loyalty. Never mind that. Even if they were paragons of empathy and intelligence, why should Donald Trump get any of the credit?
It’s too much to hope that Ivana’s book will be a traditional tell-all, in part because Ivana signed a non-disclosure agreement upon her divorce in 1992. But even when she speaks up to defend Trump, which she does often, she has ways of undercutting him as only an ex-wife can. Last spring, she gave an interview to the New York Post in which she praised his candidacy, and along the way insulted his weight, alluded to his penis size, said he might not attend his grandson’s bris, and told an unflattering story about him throwing a temper tantrum on the ski slopes when they were dating. If Ivana can throw shade this effectively in one casual interview, imagine what she can do in a book.