June 18th, 2009
01:44 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama sends message to dads on Father's Day

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/18/art.parade.cnn.jpg caption="‘If I could be anything, I’d be a good father,” says Obama in this week’s Parade."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama has a Father's Day message to dads across America: "Step up."

Obama, whose own father abandoned his family when he was a toddler, writes in an essay in this weekend's edition of Parade magazine that he learned about the importance of fatherhood "through its absence."

"I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill," Obama writes. "We need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one."

Obama praises his two young daughters for showing "poise, humor, and patience" in dealing with their changing, unconventional lives. He said he has been an "imperfect father" and lamented that political life has meant missing out on moments of their lives.

"There were many days out on the campaign trail when I felt like my family was a million miles away, and I knew I was missing moments of my daughters' lives that I'd never get back," Obama writes. "It is a loss I will never fully accept."

The president also recalls a promise he made to his daughter, Malia, the day she was born.

"I think about the pledge I made to her that day: that I would give her what I never had - that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father," he writes.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. moses

    Now listen to him all you deadbeat dads.

    June 18, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. sensible Cape Coral FL

    God bless you, President Obama.

    June 18, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. Fair is Fair

    When it came to raising our kids, Mr. Obama, my husband did "step up".

    He told them that no one was going to look out for their best interests – that they had to do that by themselves. He told them that if they wanted something, the way to get it was to work for it. And he realized that the best thing that he could do for them was simply to be available.

    And yet, one of them STILL turned out to be a liberal. Oh well... he's still young.

    June 18, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. gt

    amen ,,, any man can be a breader,,,,be a man and be a father...

    June 18, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Hugo

    So do us all a favor, resign and go spend some time with your family. Seems to me you and your policies have just indebted your kids, your grandkids along with all of ours for their lifetime.

    June 18, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. Willy Brown

    Dad's I'm going to tax the heck out of you. Happy Father's Day-Barry

    June 18, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Neil, in Jacksonville, NC

    This is a great message to send. I wish the news would focus on this story instead of that fly...
    I am not a 'supporter' of Mr. Obama, but this message rings true for all people, of all nationalities. Maybe the media will pick up on this over the fly.... again, I doubt it...

    June 18, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Kristin

    May many many men follow your lead!

    June 18, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. katiec

    President Obama is not only the number one president, he is the number one Father.
    I do hope his encouragement for fathers to be involved with their children causes some to access their situations.

    June 18, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. sensi johnson

    You are one great guy!

    June 18, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Mr. President you are an inspiration to many young men and fathers to be, and to fathers that had been dropping the ball. Your family defies America's stereotypes of what a lot of ignorant people believe a Black family to be. Beyond that, you and your family have given new meaning to what is now thought of as the "Portrait of an American Family".

    You have set a positive example for all fathers to emulate. One only need to look at your daughters, and their disposition to know that you and your wife have done a fine job of raising them.

    June 18, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. Abby

    God Bless the President of the Unites States of America!

    June 18, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. John Gallo

    Obama does not need to tell me to step up as a father. I am a strong supporter of the nuclear family and benefited from my father as I grew up. My wife and I worked as a team raising three children now 26,23 and 21 who are well spoken and independent. Obama should stick to running the United States and not try to meddle in every aspect of it's citizens.

    June 18, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. TCM

    Obama cites:

    "I think about the pledge I made to her that day: that I would give her what I never had —

    ____________

    he gave her US citizenship........

    I'm a hater! I'm a hater!

    Actually, it was a good article. I wonder if Obama used the teleprompter for that.

    June 18, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. Esco

    A powerful message indeed. That is why i admire our President...unlike me he is just not looking back to just the past, but the future; that future his children and many other families throughout the U.S. that grow up with out a father or have one should have.

    I grew up without my father too, and recently he came to visit me, but in my heart its so hard to forgive him for leaving. Non the less, we had fun when he was here, and discussed a lot of issues. The feeling of emptiness is still there, so maybe i haven't completely forgiven him, and somtimes its hard to tell if i did forgive him. I also have other sisters, maybe even a brother i don't know about with another mother...i've never met them before. And they have everything, good education, money from my fathers wealth...i worked my way up with nothing to something and i thank God for that, because it has opened my eyes to the world.

    Anyway, maybe someday when i become a dad i'll understand my situation a little more. Right now i'm making the best of it while young and exploring the joy of youth ^_^

    I just have one question for the President...did you read the baby books to raise such fine daughters?

    June 18, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. Maggie

    Whay doesn't he rsign and then he will have the time he talks about to be a good father. In the end that is what it is all about, passing on to your children the best that he can be.

    June 18, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Another cute story.

    Someone asks why doesn't Obama support complete gay rights?
    Media runs a cute Obama clip.
    Someone asks why will 1000's of troops be left in Iraq?
    Media runs a cute Obama photo op.
    Someone asks where will the money come from for the bail out?
    Media tells a cute Obama story.
    Someone asks why isn't Obama coming down on corporations?
    Media runs a cute Obama clip.
    Someone asks why doesn't Obama give an opinion on Iran?
    Media remains silent.

    Keep asking!
    Question Authority, even if it is smiling.

    June 18, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. Lisa B

    AAHHHH!!!! I have to agree with him

    June 18, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. Frisky

    Excellent Message – I look forward to reading what he has to say.

    June 18, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. BETSY

    I am SURE the GOP will have a problem with this message also!

    June 18, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. bjguru

    I admire your promise to be a good father. It has been one of my life missions as well.

    June 18, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. Jimmy the Greek

    "We need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one."

    ___________

    Wait... let me get this straight.... Father's need to "Step-Up" all the while:

    1) Women (without the consent of fathers) can unilaterally decide to terminate a pregnancy even though it took "consent" to create the child.

    2) Courts have FOR DECADES sided with mothers in family court matters. Legal and Physical custody awarded to moms. Wage Garnishment, child support, alimony, "visitation schedules" award to dads.

    3) Women having intimate relationships with teenage boys get typically a slap on the wrist. Men get 10-20 years in the same circumstances.

    But hey dads... STEP UP... you're not doing enough... so says the President.

    June 18, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. Edward P

    Isn't Father's Day supposed to be a day of celebration? You know something like Mother's day? Because I don't remember Obama asking Mothers to step up on Mothers day. Please, just let this one day be celebrated as it should without using it to bash men in general.

    June 18, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. minnie

    He's an amazing role model – in so many ways. No doubt his daughters will always be proud of him.

    June 18, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. watching

    I'm so proud of our first family
    here comes the RNC ( Rush,Newt,Cheney) hate machine

    June 18, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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