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Ask Dr. Helen: Does a Father-Free Home Breed Success — Or Just Power-Hungry Politicians?

Even on Father's Day, some think dads are not just unimportant — they can even impede your drive to succeed.

by
Helen Smith

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June 21, 2009 - 5:12 am
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Father’s Day is here and it is a time to reflect on how important dads are to us as I do here in a PJTV show on why dads matter.

However, there are people who feel differently. These people think that fathers are not only unimportant but that they might even impede one’s success in life. At least this is what I got out of an article at The Daily Beast entitled “Washington’s Fatherless Elite” in which author Lisa Carver explores why so many successful politicians (such as Obama) and others are from father-free homes:

I was recently helping a graduating senior put together his college applications, and it about killed me. Whenever I began to fret that the forms weren’t filled out absolutely perfectly, he’d just smile roguishly. He wasn’t prompt, he didn’t worry. He knew everything would work out just fine.

“No it won’t!” I wanted to yell. “We have to take into consideration every possible complication! Life is a series of disasters to be narrowly averted!”

The difference between us? One big one is that he grew up with a loving dad to comfort, help, and support him, and I did not. My dad was in and out (more out than in), instilling in me a persisting sense that no help is coming, that life is mine to tackle alone, that finding a solution is completely up to six-, or 16-, or 36-year-old me. And it may be that running a country, a state, or a courtroom in today’s world benefits from exactly this type of survivalist, crisis-oriented personality.

Carver goes on to talk with a politician who grew up without a dad:

I was a man amongst men in the State House of Representatives and was a member of the good ol’ boys club. It fostered a feeling of belonging in the male world. I love my mother dearly, but there are times when a father’s guidance would have served me better. I poured my entire sense of self into becoming a politician on the upswing. I passed over a few opportunities to have made a family. I skipped past moments of simply enjoying my life and obsessively devoted every waking hour with thoughts of how I’d advance to the next level.

I came to understand that I’d substituted a father’s involvement in my life with one deeply entrenched with my political peers.

What follows are some of my own thoughts and questions on this subject — for I have always wondered why so many (especially liberal) politicians and Hollywood types have so many father issues.

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