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Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day: Obama Style

President Obama with daughter, Sasha, getting ice cream Saturday at The Dairy Godmother.

While the President was taking care of his own Father's Day responsibilities that included taking the First Daughters out for an ice cream treat this past Saturday, the president also shared what it means to be a father with young men and father's today at The Arc.

In his address President Obama said that fathers are "our mentors, our role models who show us by the example they set the kind of people they want us to become."

It is fitting for Obama to make these remarks in a community that needs the mentoring and leadership of men (and fathers) more than ever.   Too many of our nation's children, especially in urban communities, are without fathers.

"But we also know that what too many fathers missing from too many homes, missing from too many lives. We know that when fathers abandon their responsibilities, there’s harm done to those kids. We know that children who grow up without a father are more likely to live in poverty. They're more likely to drop out of school. They're more likely to wind up in prison. They’re more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They’re more likely to run away from home. They’re more likely to become teenage parents themselves."

Obama, who's own father left the family when he was just two years old, said he "still felt the weight of that absence".

Admitting that he himself hasn't been the perfect parent, citing that the demands of work sometimes caused him to miss precious moments of his daughter's childhood lives, Obama told the audience that "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."

The president has launched a new, nationwide Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative, explaining that it is "a call to action" with cities and states, with individuals and organizations (to include the NFL, and PTAs) across the country to raise awareness about responsible fatherhood and working to re-engage absent fathers with their families.

Just like last Father's Day, the White House held a Father's Day barbeque earlier this afternoon.

One year ago this week, the Administration kicked off a national conversation on fatherhood and personal responsibility, that included hearing from fathers and families about the challenges that they face.

In a Father's Day Proclamation, Obama writes,
"From the first moments of life, the bond forged between a
father and a child is sacred. Whether patching scraped knees or helping with homework, dads bring joy, instill values, and introduce wonders into the lives of their children. Father's Day is a special time to honor the men who raised us, and to thank them for their selfless dedication and love.

Fathers are our first teachers and coaches, mentors and role models. They push us to succeed, encourage us when we are struggling, and offer unconditional care and support. Children and adults alike look up to them and learn from their example and perspective. The journey of fatherhood is both exhilarating and humbling -- it is an opportunity to model who we want our sons and daughters to become, and to build the foundation upon which they can achieve their dreams.

Fatherhood also carries enormous responsibilities. An active, committed father makes a lasting difference in the life of a child. When fathers are not present, their children and families cope with an absence government cannot fill.Across America, foster and adoptive fathers respond to this need, providing safe and loving homes for children facing hardships. Men are also making compassionate commitments outside the home by serving as mentors, tutors, or big brothers to young people in their community.

Together, we can support the guiding presence of male role models in the lives of countless young people who stand to gain from it. Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step-father, a grandfather, or caring guardian. We owe a special debt of gratitude for those parents serving  the United States Armed Forces and their families, whose sacrifices protect the lives and liberties of all American children. For the character they build, the doors they open, and the love they provide over our lifetimes, all our fathers deserve our unending appreciation and admiration."
Video: Father's Day At The Arc
Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative

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