Research effects of father absence



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This child was born in 1944 in Chicago, to a lawyer father and a secretary mother. His father died of sudden heart failure when the child was 3, leaving them a diamond ring, a 1940 Buick, and about $400 in cash. There was no no other property.

The boy's mother returned with her son to her childhood home in Arkansas, where they lived with her parents. She took a job as a secretary in a bank.

In kindergarten he had to overcome a speech defect for which he was teased. But he learned to read early, and read a lot, including books on geography, science, space, medieval history, and science fiction, his favorite. He and his friends also liked to play military games, as well as sports, including swimming, football and baseball. In an interview about his childhood, he said:
"Occasionally, I would get in trouble with the teacher. One day my first grade teacher told me I had gotten by, by skin of my teeth. I remember coming home and asking my grandmother what is the skin of my teeth. In the second grade, I started to make some outstandings and by the third grade I was making mostly outstandings. By the fourth grade, I was making mostly As."

One day, when he was 6, the boy heard U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur give a speech on the radio. MacArthur said that "old soldiers never die, they just slowly fade away." The boy was inspired by this speech.

The boy worked hard at his studies. Although he was small in stature, in high school, he led his swim team to a state championship, He finished academically at the top of his class. When he learned that wearing glasses might not disqualify him from attending the United States Military Academy at West Point, he applied for and received an appointment. He graduated first in his class, and received a Rhodes scholarship. While there, he met the woman who would become his wife and the mother of his own child.

After graduating Oxford, he trained at the Ranger and Airborne schools, and commanded a tank company in Kansas. His military service then brought him into the war in Vietnam, leading fighting troops. He was injured three times, including being shot multiple times and severely wounded during one ambush where he nevertheless continued to lead his men. Throughout his career, he continued to distinguish himself. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, made a Knight of the British Empire and earned a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Silver Star and Distinguished Service Medal. He received numerous other awards and honors, both military and civilian, from foreign countries as well as the United States.

He gained fame for his independent leadership of military operations which stopped ethnic cleansing in the Balkans while he was the U.S. commander of NATO forces in Europe. He was appointed as White House Fellow in the Office of Management and Budget. Everywhere he worked, he became known for his exceptional effort, talent and dedication. Ultimately he retired from the military as a Four-Star General. He wrote several books on the military and national security, became an investment banker, and gained popular celebrity in national politics when he was drafted to run for President. This war hero and exemplar of achievement, integrity, leadership, and service to country is

U.S. Gen. (Ret.) Wesley Kanne Clark, a boy from a "fatherless home."

Additional recommended reading: How Rhodes Scholars Think: Wesley K. Clark

This fatherless child story was researched and co-written by Elizabeth G.

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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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