Research effects of father absence



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This child was born in Maryland in 1985, the third child after two older sisters, in an average, middle-class family. His father, a law enforcement officer, and his mother, a teacher, separated permanently when the child was seven. After years of fighting, his father abruptly moved out without further explanation. The children remained in the custody of their mother.

When he was younger, the child was considered to be hyperactive. He jumped on furniture and broke things around the house. Teachers complained about his conduct, and one said that he would never amount to anything. He also spoke with a lisp.

About the time his father left, he took up a sport in which both of his sisters also participated. His sisters helped to raise him, and served as role models, while his mother worked hard to support and encourage all of her children's efforts. Meanwhile, he rarely saw his father, who remarried and became distant and estranged.

It didn't matter.

At age fifteen, he became the youngest person ever to set a world record in a timed sport. Over the next eight years, he kept winning more events, and he kept setting records. His two sisters also grew up to become achieving and exemplary individuals.

At age 23, in an interview with the London Standard, the world's greatest Olympian said that he owes everything to his mother.

Michael Phelps, 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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