Research effects of father absence



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This child was born in the 1860s to the fourth wife of a government official. As a young child, he was very timid and afraid of things such as the dark, and often thought that there were thieves hiding in his house in the night.

He was generally a good child, but he did not always follow his parents' rules. He was not a good student, and did not like to study. He did, however, like to read, and on his own read various things that interested him, which often had nothing to do with what he was supposed to be studying. He occasionally got into trouble. For example, when he was still quite small, he started buying cigarettes, which put him into debt to the boy who was selling them to him, so he stole a piece of his brother's jewelry to pay off the debt.

When he was 13 years old, he got married to a 13-year-old girl who could not read or write.

Several years later, when he was 16 years old, and his wife was pregnant, his father died. He later wrote in his biography that on the night his father died, instead of attending to him, he snuck away to another room in the house to have sex with his then-pregnant teenage wife. The baby his wife later gave birth to died after only a few days, and he always felt guilty after that, thinking it had something to do with his own father's death or his lust, because he had awakened his child bride from a sound sleep.

When he was 18 his mother encouraged him to go London to study law and train as a barrister. He did not want to do this at first. He had barely passed his entrance exams to get into college, and had done miserably there. He also had hated the kind of education he had been forced to endure as a child. But finally he relented. He and his wife went to England where he studied law, and while he managed to pass, never felt that he fit in and remained a fairly mediocre student.

After law school, he and his wife returned home, where he worked as a lawyer. When he was in his mid-twenties, he accepted a job doing legal work in a country in Africa. While he was there, he became involved in activism against injustices.

To fight against injustices, he invented a technique of non-violent civil disobedience. It became so successful that he used it over and over again against wrongs he perceived in the educational system, the courts, and the political system. He urged people not to fight directly but to boycott products, to go on strike, to march, and to refuse to pay taxes. Among the many customs and laws he came to abhor and fight against was arranged childhood marriages, which he decided was a cruelty that should not be imposed on children. He hated all forms of child abuse, oppression, organized religion, and even industrialization.

By the end of his long, and rather strange life, he had become famous through his activist work, and for assisting the people of his country to attain independence. He became known throughout the world for the technique of non-violent civil resistance to tyranny, and for his advocacy for education. This eccentric individual who became so well-known and accomplished so much, did so following a childhood that by the standards of today likely would have got him yanked by DCF into foster care, if not juvenile detention or some kind of boot camp for teenage boys. He was, of course,

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi aka Mahatma Gandhi, 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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