I practiced divorce law for 15 years. Part and parcel to such practice is domestic violence. You can’t avoid it. Even absent a history of physical abuse, divorce is such an emotionally charged process for the parties involved that frustrations, impatience and tempers often reach dangerous levels. Practicing Family Law is an education in relationship dysfunction, its causes and its effects.
One of the insights I gained, both from my practice as well as from my own life experience, is that how individuals are raised and how their nuclear family members treat and relate to one another forms the foundation for how people later choose life partners. No influence has a more profound impact upon that foundation than that of our parents. Without going down such a simplistic path as did Freud (daughters want to sleep with their fathers and sons want to sleep with their mothers) there is none-the-less an undeniable influence that both parents have upon how children, of both genders, relate to the opposite sex. How that influence plays out, however, is fact based and varies in every situation.
In addition to the aforementioned, generally speaking, where a mother is present in a family she has an undeniable influence upon the type of home and family life that is created.
I had a very charismatic father. He was successful, charitable, and personable with an undeniable presence. My mother was much more the background to his main event. She was less vocal, less impressive and very much maintained the stage upon which my father performed. I can recall many times during my childhood and young adulthood when I, or my sister, was in disagreement with my father. He would often respond with “Sure, it’s always my fault. I’m always the bad guy.” At the time, I pretty much saw things that way. He was the major influence and had the apparent concentration of power so, of course, he was the obvious target for grievances. He was, in all fairness, also the recipient of credit for all things good.
It took me decades into adulthood, in fact until after my father died, to begin to understand the silent power my mother had wielded in our family and the effects it had upon familial relationships both then and later in creating and dismantling my own marriage. It tuned out that it was a very complicated and unseen dance that had played out between my parents. What is undeniable, in hindsight, is the influence each brought to the table, for good and for ill, and how that influence affected choices and attitudes in my own life, particularly as they related to men.
Which brings me to Donald Trump.
I have been following this primary season with great interest. I happen to believe this election to be of unimaginable importance to the future of the nation. As such, while always a political junkie of sorts, my attention and my efforts to be informed this time around surpass any level of interest I’ve had in prior elections. I have also tried to be informed from the perspective of a variety of sources and political agendas. My goal has been to have the most comprehensive education in order to make the most informed choice. I take voting very seriously.
No matter what the source, Donald Trump is often quoted as praising his father for what he knows about business as well as for financing Donald with his start in the world of real estate. His father is referred to as smart, successful, and powerful. Nary is a word ever mentioned by Trump about his mother. I find that curious. In fact, in light of Trump’s apparent dysfunction with women and women’s issues, I find it an omission of gigantic proportion. Who was she? What was his relationship with his mother? What influence did she have upon his life and values? Upon his opinion of women and how they should be treated? How did his father treat his mother? What was the dynamic of their marriage?
No such silence exists regarding Ted Cruz. His family history is a centerpiece of his campaign. To the contrary, the silence from Donald Trump about his mother is deafening.
We all know from his own books that Trump is a serial philanderer. He has admittedly cheated on his wives. He is obsessed with looks and in particular, women’s bodies. If a woman isn’t attractive he has little good to say about her and, at times, is outright cruel in his descriptions of women (e.g. Carly Fiorina and Heidi Cruz). He makes inappropriate sexual innuendos at inappropriate times. In the past several months and escalating in recent days, Trump has used foul language to disparage individual women he dislikes, staunchly stood up for his campaign manager who is charged with battery of a woman (based upon video evidence of the battery and resulting injuries) and said that a woman who has an abortion should get jail time (Disclosure: I am pro-life but his position is none-the-less offensive and without thought).
I am not saying that Donald Trump’s emotional stagnation at about age 15 as it relates to women is his mother’s fault. What I am saying is that there is an obvious imbalance within his own mind and in his expression of the proportionate role his parents played in the formation of his principles and his values. No one is all good and all bad. But when there exists a one-sided perception of a relationship, such as I had early on regarding my own parents and as Donald Trump has regarding his, there is also either an unwillingness or an inability to face the totality and reality of that relationship. Refusal to look at anything head-on and evaluate it based upon what is, or was, only leads to denial and development of skewed and unbalanced ideas and behavior.
So what I surmise, and its only conjecture, is that Donald Trump’s father and mother had a difficult relationship; that Donald grew up in an environment influenced by that difficulty; that Donald developed perverse survival mechanisms to survive the difficulty and perhaps most importantly, that Donald’s mother played a significant (if even a significantly passive) role in his formulating demeaning opinions of women and how to treat them.
I close by acknowledging that I am not a psychologist. I am a lawyer and citizen who wants the best for my country. It is my personal and professional experience that denial is dangerous and not the way to get to where it is you want to go. Therefore, for me, Donald Trump’s penchant for denial eliminates him as a viable Presidential candidate.