Children should respect parents

Published 12:03 am Sunday, April 17, 2016

There is no way to avoid sounding like a Donald Trump supporter with this column.

Honestly, though, this has less to do with one New York City billionaire than the fact that people should not be ridiculed, criticized or even questioned about their devotion to their fathers.

On Tuesday night, CNN held a town hall with the Trump family, which, by all rights, should have mimicked the Addams Family but ended up resembling the Osmonds.

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In the first place, all of Trump’s children look like him. They inherited the O-shaped mouths that look as if that part of their faces stopped growing around age 4. This is not to say that they are unattractive. Quite the contrary. Trump’s children have an amazing gene pool, with some exceptional maternal DNA, which compensates for “The Mouth.”

But what really struck me about The Donald’s children was that they genuinely love their father. Ivanka, especially, showed a profound affection and respect for Trump, and said the kind of things that aren’t scripted, or, at least, if they are, reflect some version of the truth.

After viewing the show, I posted this on my Facebook page:

“A parent, mother or father, is best judged by the quality of their children, their character, work ethic, moral code, and the bond that unites them. Parents should be neither congratulated on, nor blamed for, their sons and daughters. At least not entirely. But the way a child looks at a parent is a strong barometer of the kind of person that parent really is, even with strangers. I watched the CNN town hall tonight with Donald Trump’s family. I could vote for the man reflected in his children’s voices. Where is that man and when will he decide to start campaigning?”

It was intended to simply be a complimentary observation about the fact that Trump raised some great children, and that this was surprising, given his campaign persona and the type of reaction he has elicited from his supporters. It was not my Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval of the man, much less his politics. But I did think he was entitled to some props for his obvious parenting skills.

The reaction surprised me. A number of my friends suggested that this was all a script designed to make Daddy Donald look more palatable, and do some triage on his damaged image. Others went so far as to say that Trump had nothing at all to do with his kids’ accomplishments and that they were all raised by their mothers and their boarding-school teachers. And then there was the reverse snobbery along the lines of “sure, it’s easy to turn out well when your paterfamilias has paterfa-millions.”

All of this got me thinking about my own father. He was a very flawed character, and a very great man. I’ve written in the past that he had a difficult childhood, clawed his way to an education and professional glory, participated in the history of the civil-rights movement in Mississippi, and was named a “Legend of the Philadelphia Bar” after his premature death at 43. I am as proud of him as Ivanka is of her father.

And yet I’m fully aware that Ted Flowers had demons, and troubles, and was far from perfect. I am quite sure that Trump’s children are clear-eyed about him, as well, and while they might forgive, they do not entirely forget.

But no one should take a child to task, even an adult one, for admiring the man who gave her opportunity, guidance, love and moxie. I’m sure Chelsea Clinton would agree.

I won’t be voting for Donald Trump. But I resent those who think that because they hate the man, so should his children. I also resent the attitude that presumes the rich are not as “real” as the rest of us.

Poverty can sometimes create character, but there are more than enough poor people out there with decrepit souls. Wealth can sometimes debase character, but there are some who are as virtuous as they are affluent. The “Bernification” of our public discourse, this ridiculous class warfare, is as bad as the elitism of the “brie and chablis” crowd.

This Father might not be presidential material, but it seems that, at least for Eric, Don Jr., Ivanka, Tiffany and Barron, he actually does know best.



Christine Flowers is an attorney and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.