Thursday, June 24, 2010

Obama on fatherhood

As someone who, like Barack Obama, grew up without a father, I appreciate what he had to say in his Father's Day speech this year. Here's a couple of extracts.

"Here’s the key message I think all of us want to send today to fathers all across the country: Our children don’t need us to be superheroes. They don’t need us to be perfect. They do need us to be present. They need us to show up and give it our best shot, no matter what else is going on in our lives. They need us to show them -- not just with words, but with deeds -- that they, those kids, are always our first priority. Those family meals, afternoons in the park, bedtime stories; the encouragement we give, the questions we answer, the limits we set, the example we set of persistence in the face of difficulty and hardship -- those things add up over time, and they shape a child’s character, build their core, teach them to trust in life and to enter into it with confidence and with hope and with determination.”
"Now, I can’t legislate fatherhood -- I can’t force anybody to love a child. But what we can do is send a clear message to our fathers that there is no excuse for failing to meet their obligations. What we can do is make it easier for fathers who make responsible choices and harder for those who avoid those choices. What we can do is come together and support fathers who are willing to step up and be good partners and parents and providers ... But ultimately, we know that the decision to be a good father -- that’s up to us, each of us, as individuals. It’s one that men across this country are making every single day -- attending those school assemblies; parent-teacher conferences; coaching soccer, Little League; scrimping and saving, and working that extra shift so that their children can go to college."

President Obama's speech marks the one-year anniversary of the new national conversation on fatherhood and personal responsibility that the White House launched across the country. "Fatherhood" was also one of the key task forces of the Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Obama said that each forum posed a simple question: "How can we as a nation - not just the government, but businesses and community groups and concerned citizens - how can we all come together to help fathers meet their responsibilities to our families and communities?"

Photo by Llima Orosa

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