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These Are the Presidents Who Were Actually Terrible Dads (and How Donald Trump Compares)

A U.S. president might be one of the most powerful people in the world, but at home he’s just a parent. All U.S. presidents to date have been fathers — and out of the 43 men who have served the country, 38 had biological and five had adopted children. Take a look into what might be the worst presidential fathers ever — and learn about Donald Trump’s parenting style (page 5) — then, decide if you agree.

1. John Adams

President John Adams

John Adams | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

According to the Los Angeles Times, the nation’s second president, John Adams, alienated his four kids with his unreasonable and insistent demands. In short, he expected them all to be “blessings both to their parents and to mankind.” And if any one of them disappointed him, he ripped them to shreds.

It’s no surprise that his son, John Quincy Adams, the nation’s sixth president, parented his children similarly. If one of his sons fell behind in his studies at Harvard, Adams would threaten eternal damnation.

Next: Hands-off parenting

2. Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant and his family

Ulysses S. Grant and his family | Kean Collection/Getty Images

Republican Ulysses S. Grant adopted the laissez-faire style of raising children, according to the Los Angeles Times. Apparently, he didn’t set any limits with his four kids. When his 13-year-old son wasn’t happy at prep school, Grant sent a telegram, “Come home at once.”

Grant’s wife, Julia, said, “The General had no idea of the government of children.  He … allowed them to do pretty much as they pleased.” This type parenting might even be worse than a disciplinarian or uninvolved style.

Next: An absentee dad

3. Franklin D. Roosevelt

President Franklin Roosevelt talking to people on the street

President Franklin Roosevelt talking to people on the street | Keystone/Getty Images

Franklin Roosevelt worked so much that his sons had to make appointments to see him, according to The Guardian. But when Roosevelt lost the use of his legs, he leaned on his sons during his speeches.

“They were parentalised,” said Joshua Kendall, author of the book “First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama.” “To the nation he was a nurturing father but to his own sons he was the opposite.”

Next: More devoted to office than children

4. Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson's family

Lyndon B. Johnson’s family | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Lyndon Johnson once said, “I never think about politics more than 18 hours a day,” according to The Guardian. Unfortunately, that left little time for him to devote to his daughters Lynda and Luci. In fact, to get Johnson to notice her, Lynda used to read issues of the Congressional Record.

During his tenure as a Senate majority leader, Johnson rarely even saw his young daughters. Luckily, that changed when he suffered a heart attack in 1955 and began to realize his life “was so lopsided as to be ridiculous … [and that] there was something else besides my job.”

Next: Kids came second

5. Ronald Reagan

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan | Michael Evans/The White House/Getty Images

Ronald Reagan had four children: two from his first wife, Jane Wyman Reagan, and two from his second wife, Nancy Davis Reagan. You might remember him as a champion of family values who was beloved by conservatives. But his relationships with his children were troubled, according to People.

Larry King, Nancy’s close friend, said, “Their love affair was probably more important than their love for their children. The children were secondary to them.”

Next: And now, for Donald Trump.

6. Donald Trump

Donald Trump and family

Donald Trump and family | Christopher Gregory/Getty Images

Donald Trump clearly likes to play the dad card, evidenced by the fact he paraded his children during his campaign. When Kendall interviewed Eric Trump, he said the only way he connected with his father was through work.

Donald Trump is clearly his kids’ boss — Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka all work for him in the Trump Organization — so he’s used to giving them orders. But all of them are quite loyal. Eric Trump told Kendall during an interview that he “would take a bullet for my father.” Perhaps his autocratic leadership style is inspiring after all.

Next: This one might shock you.

7. Jimmy Carter

jimmy carter speaking at an event

Jimmy Carter | Gene Forte/AFP/Getty Images

Jimmy Carter’s military background influenced his parenting, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I gave my three boys orders,” said Carter in 1996.  “If they didn’t carry my orders out, they were punished.”

Although Carter did occasionally play with his youngest child, Amy, but he was an absentee dad to his three older sons, Jack, Chip, and Jeff. “[Dad] had his own thing to do,” said Jack in 2003, “and I don’t think you get to be president unless you’re driven.”

Read more: These Are the Presidents With the Most Stepchildren, Including Donald Trump

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