You have been the brunt of several jokes lately and the topic of many gossip columns and targeted tweets. On behalf of the American people, I apologize for this. My dad has never been the president of the United States, but I’ve grown up in a spotlight very similar to yours. So PK to PK (pastor’s kid to president’s kid) I hope to shed a little light on the struggles you currently face, and the road ahead.
1. You’ve got to let people be people…
A pastor once gave this little nugget of wisdom to my dad, and followed that phrase by saying “…and most of them are stupid.” We all know the intended sarcasm but, at times, truthful humor in that sentence. I used to see on television that people are generous and understanding at their core. And while I know that each human was created to be that way, I’ve come to understand that we live in a fallen world where people deal with a carnal, sin nature. We are often the product of our context. So, considering that people have been raised the past couple generations in a world of participation trophies, “everybody wins” sports, low academic standards, hand-outs, and mostly poor parenting, it makes complete sense to me that people are attacking you. Poor leadership/upbringing combined with an unredeemed soul will lead to the type of comments you’ve received. People forget that we are all people…and you’ll have to just let people be people.
2. “The first homeschool shooter”
First of all, let me say… “WHAT THE???!!!” This was completely unacceptable. The very same crowd that jeered at your father for making blanket statements about particular types of people are the ones who make those exact same comments about you. Politics aside, you did not vote. You did not choose in which family to be born. You said nothing. You did nothing. Because of your perceived personality on public television, they want to label you and mock at you. Its ignorant talk filled with malicious intent.
3. “Mini Donald”
I know that this phrase comes from your mother and has been/will be used both to praise you and put you down. I can easily recall dozens of accounts where I was mocked because of my similarities to my father and grandfather. At times I ran full-force toward that persona; at other times I ran as fast as I could away from it. Ultimately, who you are is your decision to make. It is no one else’s business. It is your parent’s job to raise you and train you, but no one gets to decide your future for you. I, like you, was raised in an environment that gave me advantages to step quickly into a particular occupation. I HATED being told that I would probably follow in my father/grandfather/great-grandfather’s footsteps. I had not yet decided whether or not I could or would assume that type of role in leading the lives of hundreds, now thousands of people. Cliché as this phrase has become, allow me to say, “Barron… You do you.” Figure out what you are passionate about. Spend your growing up years learning what makes you tick. What are the things that wake you up in the morning and motivate you to live. Then, when the opportunity to pursue those things presents itself, take it. But don’t live in anyone else’s shadow or feel intimidated to do anything you don’t want to do. You’re not “mini Donald.” You’re not the next “Donald Trump.” You are the first Barron Trump. You be the best you that you can be.
4. Living in the Spotlight
I’ve touched on this a little bit already, but let me express how much I completely understand what’s going through your mind right now. The struggle is real. You had no idea a year ago that your dad would be in charge of the fate of the world. In many cases, I had no idea which direction my family would go and who they would be leading. It’s a big deal knowing that your parents make decisions that affect the lives of other’s… I get it. And for that, many will try to buy your friendship in hopes of getting to your parents. Many will hate you because they hate your parents. But there are a few who genuinely love just you for you. Cling to those people. Don’t let someone become your “friend” and then prove himself to you. Let him first prove himself a friend before you let your guard down and allow him into that emotional safe space. People watch every yawn. They scrutinize every facial expression. They judge parenting skills. And they largely use you as a pawn in their political game to gain leverage over your dad. You may not have yawned because you didn’t want to be there, maybe it was because you stayed up late playing video games with friends. Or, maybe you didn’t want to appear on national television with your father while he was on work related duty. Who cares?! We’ll never know… and its none of our business.
5. You have an important job
Being a PK comes with great privilege and power, therefore it comes with its share of responsibility. I know you’re just ten years old, but hear me out. Your job is equally as important as your dad’s. People will never know the stress of being a PK…because they’ve never been one. Your dad carries work home with him; he’s never off the clock. People watch you. People judge you. But take a moment to realize the great advantages we share. We get to sit at tables with powerful men in our fields of influence and hear their stories and form bonds of friendship because of our dad’s job. We have insider access into the workings of our organizations, and because of our family, we have the opportunity to do more, faster than anyone else ever could. The day you are allowed to step into the world of social media, you’re already an instant celebrity. Kid’s parents may be fixated on yours, but their kids who are still too young to vote will be largely influenced by you in your teenager years in the White House. Make every post, tweet, photo, and video count. Use your platform to encourage kids to be kids. Take this life-changing opportunity and run with it to change the world for kids all over our country. They’re looking at you… and they’re waiting with expectant ears to hear from you in the coming days. Show them that you aren’t a stereotype.
Ultimately, work on those facial expressions. You’re going to be on television a whole lot more in the coming days. Even when your dad’s speeches are boring or crazy (believe me, I speak from experience) pretend to be all in to whatever he’s saying. Don’t take any heat over not holding your mom’s hand…she should have known better than to try that stunt with a pre-teen. Don’t let people look down on you because of your dad’s failures… and don’t let people try to be your friend just because of his success. You’re our “first kid” now… so don’t forget to be one. I know you’ll mess up, and having people waiting to watch you do so doesn’t make life easier. But learn to laugh it off. People view you differently because of your dad, and people will learn to view your dad differently because of you. I can’t wait to see what you do to change the world.
Jon Leighton Groves, II
P.S. If you ever need someone to talk to, your dad’s the president….I’m pretty sure he can get my number for you.