Research effects of father absence



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This child was born on Christmas Day on a farm in England in the 1600s. He never knew his father, who died three months before he was born. His mother remarried a church minister when he was two years old, and they sent the boy off to live with his grandparents, where he was treated like an orphan. The boy was bitter about this, especially after three half-siblings were born. The grandfather with whom he lived was harsh and abusive too, and when the grandfather died when the child was ten, he left him nothing in his will. The boy's stepfather also died about that time, and so he and his grandmother ended up moving back into his mother's household, where he did not get along well with his half-siblings.

The boy had a temper, and apparently also had what we would consider to be "emotional issues". So before long, his mother sent him off to live with another family and attend a school in a town five miles from their home. The boy was not happy. He did not like school. He did not like his situation. When the school reported to his mother that he was "idle" and "inattentive" to his studies, she pulled him out of school to come home and help manage the farm. He hated that too, and proved himself to be quite lazy and untalented at this.

Finally, when he was 17, his mother's brother convinced the mother to let him return to grammar school to try again. This time while at school, he was sent to live with the headmaster. There is not much evidence that he did particularly well at first. He apparently got into a number of schoolyard fights. At some point, though, he started to apply himself, and by the time he graduated -- at an age which was much older than the other students -- he had risen to first in his class. With his uncle's encouragement and help, he entered a university intending to pursue a degree in law, through a program that now would be similar to a work-study financial aid program -- he received a salary by being a servant to other students.

One day, while he was attending the university, he purchased an astrology book, and was dismayed that he did not understand the mathematics in it. Although his major at the university was philosophy, he decided to take some classes in math, and on his own also started reading books in mathematics. He tried trigonometry first, but when he found that he did not understand that, he started with basic math and geometry. Then, once he had mastered the basics, he discovered that math was, finally, something he liked, and also was good at.

In fact, he was so good at it that within a few years, he had learned everything that could be taught in mathematics at the university. He got a job as a professor of mathematics, and before long, had developed the mathematics of the day far beyond what anyone else had done before, laying the foundations for differential and integral calculus.

In his lifetime, through his mathematical work in optics and celestial mechanics, he established the theories, principles, and bases we use today in the modern sciences of physics and astronomy. He is well-known for his Theory of Universal Gravitation and his Laws of Motion. He was the first scientist to demonstrate that the same principles that govern the motion of objects in space also govern the motion of things on Earth. He was the first person in England to be knighted based on scholarly achievement, rather than prowess on the battlefield. He is the author of a book known as the Principia -- recognized as the most important scientific work ever written. Considered by some to be the greatest scientist who ever lived, this late-bloomer, one of the most influential men in all of history, was

Sir Isaac Newton, a boy from a "fatherless home."

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* The term "fatherless" is used in this series as it is in current research and policy rhetoric by the U.S. federal government, DHHS and the National Fatherhood Initiative, most U.S. states in connection with child custody law and policy, and various family values and fatherhood interest policy and lobbying groups.

"...Just add Dad, the magic ingredient. It's hard to know where wishful thinking becomes deliberate deception. But this argument, advanced by the fathers' rights movement, is like saying that, since Mercedes Benz owners make more money than people who drive Hyundais, you will become wealthy if you buy a Mercedes..." Mike Peterson



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