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By Andrea Peyser
February 6, 2017
This poor little rich boy needs protection.
He’s just 10 years old. And already, Barron Trump, a lad blessed with his mother’s fine facial features who appears poised to grow to his father’s impressive height, has the weight of the world on his slender shoulders.
Before finishing elementary school, the young boy has been subjected to public ridicule so intense, an adult would buckle under the pressure. As a mother, the thought of the abuse he’s forced to endure at the hands of strangers makes me want to scream.
During the inauguration ceremony of the man he calls Dad, President Trump, “Saturday Night Live” writer Katie Rich tweeted a mind-numbingly cruel “joke” — “Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter.” She apologized, took the message down, and was suspended indefinitely from the TV show. But the fact that she ever felt entitled to use Twitter, a weapon wielded by Barron’s father against grown-ups, to inflict potential psychological harm on an innocent minor speaks volumes about the new rules of decency.
The Slovenian-born former model, 46, Donald Trump’s third wife, who has said she sometimes calls her son “Little Donald,” is breaking with custom. She’s living apart from her husband, 70, at least for now, remaining in the family’s penthouse triplex atop Trump Tower in Manhattan with Barron until the end of his private school’s semester.
Last week, a report swirled claiming that she was considering steering clear of Washington, DC, permanently. But her acting senior adviser threw cold water on the story, announcing that the first lady is hiring staffers in anticipation of moving to the nation’s capital, after ensuring that her son’s education isn’t disrupted.
Long considered off-limits as media and comedic targets, presidential kids have become fair game — particularly if they’re born into the political right.
Barron is exponentially vulnerable. With his planned move to the White House with his mom, he’s to be the first male child to live in the presidential digs since John F. Kennedy Jr. in the early 1960s. Despite decades of feminism and supposed advances in gender equality, societal expectations for boys still outdistance those for their sisters, experts in the field of parenthood told me.
“The culture expects a boy to be strong, brave courageous, always to be able to fix things and do things on his own — not showing his feelings, because that’s what boys do,” said Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., a New York-based family therapist and author.
She watched social media in disgust in the early-morning hours after the election, as Internet trolls speculated that there was “something wrong” with the unsmiling youngster as he struggled to stay awake — the kind of cyberbullying Barron’s mom, Melania Trump, vowed during the campaign to fight as first lady.
“It was 3 in the morning!” exclaimed Dr. Eaker Weil, 70. “Give the kid a break.’’
Stephanie O’Leary, Psy.D., 38, of Warwick, NY, agrees.
“I think that gender stereotypes exist. As a mom, I’m very mindful that he’ll be in his father’s shadow,’’ said O’Leary, the author of “Parenting in the Real World: The Rules Have Changed. Drop the Guilt. Handle Any Parenting Situation in 7 Simple Steps.”
“My biggest worry is how hearing everyone’s polarized opinions of his father will impact him.’’
“[President] Obama had detractors. But Barron risks hearing more catastrophic concerns about his father’s ability to govern.” The kinds of zingers flung at Barron — “I never heard anything like that said about [Obama’s] children.”
Girls, from former President Jimmy Carter’s daughter, Amy, to President Bill Clinton’s Chelsea and Sasha and Malia Obama, grew up largely shielded from the media glare. (The twin girls of former President George W. Bush were away in universities when their dad started serving.)
But nothing is sacred when it comes to the youngest child of the most powerful man in the free world.
Barron needs his mommy, now more than ever.
The family dynamic appears to be a throwback to the days when men spent most of their time bringing home the bacon (or, in this case, enacting foreign and domestic policy), while women held down the home front. When Barron was an infant, his dad told me that, after fathering five children, he’d never changed a diaper.
I see Melania Trump as a mother lion protecting her only cub. If it works for the Trumps, it’s OK by me. Let’s all applaud the first couple’s decision.
And leave Barron Trump alone.