Research effects of father absence



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This child was born in 1804 in Salem, Masachusetts, into a well-connected family that hailed from a long line of famous and powerful Puritan ancestors. One of his ancestors was a judge who presided over the Salem witch trials.

When the child was four, his father, a sea captain, was drowned at sea. This forced his mother and the child and his two sisters to have to leave their home and thereafter live on the charity of her extended family. The child's mother, it has been said, became overprotective, and consequently, the child grew up shy and "bookish". Nevertheless, he later reported that his childhood was a happy one, and he was close with his family.

While in school, because of his shyness, he was uncomfortable with public speaking -- an academic requirement in those days -- and often preferred solitary thinking and studying to socializing. Otherwise, he was good at his studies, and enjoyed reading and writing.

He persevered through school and college, writing stories and articles from a young age. Often he wrote them anonymously. A few were published. When he graduated from a local college, in order to earn money, he took a job as a customs house official. During this young period of his life, he became acquainted with men who themselves ultimately rose to become famous writers and poets.

Finally, his writing began to earn sufficient additional money for him to marry and settle down. Then, when he was fired from his job, and he was forced to write full-time to earn a living, he began to achieve real success with his novels. By the end of his life he was a famous, established author, friend and confident of presidents, and even a European ambassador.

This child's prolific writings are notable for their controversial moral and philosophical subjects, as well as for their extraordinary and forward-thinking insights. Many of them question the assumptions of traditional family and society. Many of the characters in his books have lost parents, and the issue of family values and parentage is an important theme. While some students today who get assignments to read his works in school might find his writing to be a bit tedious and flowery by modern standards, without question, the stories themselves are entertaining and remain relevant.

This giant of American literature, whose fiction dealt with themes of prejudice, and confronted ideas about sin and evil, and misguided assumptions of right and wrong, the author of such classics as the "Twice-Told Tales", "The House of Seven Gables", and the very famous "The Scarlet Letter" was

Nathanial Hawthorne, 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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