Research effects of father absence



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This child's mother fled from his biological father just after giving birth, because of the man's cruelty and regular abuse of her. She moved back home to live with her own parents in another state, and obtained a divorce before the child was even a few months old.

His mother had come from a middle-class family and attended a girls' college after high school. While she was there, she had met the child's father, a wealthy man who was six years older than she was. She fell in love and left college after her first year to marry him, but from the honeymoon on, he regularly beat her, flying into jealous rages at the slightest provocation.

Once the child was born, she knew that she had to muster the courage to get away, and get the child away from him. It is unlikely that today, with the father's rights laws the way they are, that she would have succeeded in this endeavor. But fortunately for her and the child, in those days she was able to do so and cut him out of their lives.

Later she remarried a kindly paint salesman, and renamed the child entirely. The child did not learn anything at all about his father until he was a teenager. He had, however, inherited his raging temper, which he had to work hard to control and overcome. But he did so, successfully, thanks in large part to the peaceful and happy family life that his mother was able to give him, and the help and role model that his stepfather and others around provided. In learning to keep himself calm and controlled, the child also developed an exemplary character, including a scrupulous insistence on honesty and integrity for which he became known throughout his life.

The child attended public schools where he was active in sports, especially football, which he later continued in college, where he majored in political science and economics, and then law. After college, he joined the Navy and served in World War II, where he had several brushes with death. Afterward, he entered politics, becoming elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served for 13 terms.

A journalist** said of him, "I remember him as a leader, first and foremost. He was the right man for this country, at the right time, in the most extraordinary crisis in our constitutional system since the Civil War."

The U.S. Secretary of State*** said of him, "I think he saved the country."

This child, whose decency, honesty, courage, and unity helped this country heal from a difficult period in its history was the 38th President of the United States,

Gerald R. Ford, 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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