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Biography of FDR For Kids: 5 Lessons For a Younger Generation

By    |   Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 05:25 PM

It is nearly impossible to read a biography of FDR and not come away with a sense that the man was something of paradox. He was born into great wealth and yet, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once signed an executive order taxing income earned by the rich at 100 percent.

Here are five lessons from FDR’s life that any future leader might want to follow:

1. Being considered “average” at an early age is no indication of future greatness.

Franklin Roosevelt was neither a great athlete nor scholar. After being homeschooled, FDR was sent to the elite Groton School, and then to Harvard. But, anyone watching FDR for signs of greatness during that time was bound to be disappointed.

While he was a social young man, he never inspired anyone with his academic or athletic prowess.

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2. Physical disability is no barrier to greatness.


In polls, FDR is routinely named one of the three greatest presidents. And yet, not one of those polls places an asterisk next to his name to designate that he was crippled from polio. Polio was simply an issue Roosevelt dealt with during his life. It in no way defined his capabilities as a leader.

3. Leading is not for the faint of heart.

During his tenure as leader of the free world, Roosevelt was pelted with criticism by both the left and the right. The left accused him of doing too little for the American people as they suffered through the Great Depression, and the right insisted that he was a socialist, one of the worst things an American could be called in those days.

While he was more popular during the war, there were still questions raised about his decision to imprison Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor and limit the number of Jews who could legally immigrate to the United States. No matter what decision Roosevelt made, there was sure to be a fraction who criticized the move.

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4. Laser-like focus matters.


FDR had what would now be considered a helicopter mom. Not only did Sara Roosevelt live next door to her son, daughter-in-law, and five grandchildren, but she also had doors built on every floor of her adjoining brownstone so that she could walk in and out of their home whenever she wanted.

In fact, until her death in 1941, Sara Roosevelt still took care of FDR and Eleanor’s finances.

The fact that Sara never approved of her daughter-in-law and decided to take over the rearing of the five Roosevelt children must have created a great deal of havoc at home. And yet, Roosevelt was able to focus on the thousands of tiny details of his presidency.

5. Be flexible.

Had Roosevelt been inflexible he would never have been able to lead the country through some of the darkest periods in its history. Many experts believe that his endless tactical shifts, aimed at leading people in the direction he wanted them to go, ultimately saved the goals of his terms in office.

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It is nearly impossible to read a biography of FDR and not come away with a sense that the man was something of paradox. He was born into great wealth and yet, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once signed an executive order taxing income earned by the rich at 100 percent.
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2015-25-07
Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 05:25 PM
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