A look at the parenting practices of American presidents.
The United States has had 43 male presidents, men who were not only fathers to the nation, but also fathers to over 200 children. Of those 43, 38 presidents had biological children, and the remaining five men all raised adopted children. Kendall (America's Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy that Built a Nation, 2013, etc.) takes readers behind the scenes to reveal their private parenting techniques, using interviews, letters, and diaries to access a world that few have seen. The bond between these first fathers and first children has often been purposefully overlooked by biographers to protect the integrity of the first families. However, as the author writes, “the manner in which each President carried out his parental responsibilities reveals much about both his beliefs and aspirations as well as about his psychological makeup." Kendall categorizes the presidents into different types of fathers. There were those who were so involved with the job that they often ignored the children—e.g., Franklin Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon B. Johnson—and those who loved to connect by being playful (Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt). Then there are the men who had extramarital affairs that produced offspring, such as John Tyler, who fathered several children out of wedlock. John Quincy Adams and others are known for being "tiger" dads who controlled the lives of their children as tightly as they did the nation. Franklin Pierce and George H.W. Bush are just two who suffered the devastating deaths of children. Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, and Barack Obama are known as nurturers. Kendall's research puts all the presidents and their parenting practices in perspective, giving readers great insight into these men and their children.
Rich in detail, this informative book gives new understanding to our nation's leaders and their offspring.