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. Texas Observer

    As a dad of 3 young children, I take your message to the heart.

    Thank you, dear President. We love you and respect you!

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

    I don't care what any of the critics say, our POTUS is a nice man, good father & husband and an all around class act!

    June 18, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. munchmom

    More photo ops, and this time exploiting the children.....

    June 18, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. Barry in MO

    Amen, Mr. President.

    There's a great line in a song by the Replacements, "he might be a father but he sure ain't a dad." We have too many fathers and not enough dads in this country. Sadly, it seems the same can be said of mothers and moms. THere's a huge difference.

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

    You are a wonderful father Mr. President. Happy Father's Day!

    June 18, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. Marc in Virginia

    Thanks for the after school special, Baryy. *puke*

    June 18, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Frank

    Is fatherhood going to be socialized next?

    June 18, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Dave in Houston

    He's totally right about that. It's not as important that I am a good worker-bee, consumer or taxpayer as it is that I am a good father.

    I'm doing my best and I think I am doing a good job.

    Thanks, Mr. President, for pointing out that which is of prime importance to some of us to those who don't take their responsibilities as fathers as seriously.

    June 18, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. bozo obama

    with all this idolatry and adoration from print and network television, i'm starting to fear that this clown is truly the anti-christ.

    June 18, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. Limbaugh is a liberal

    But according to the GOP the solution is to ban contraceptives and outlaw homosexuality... That will fix the problem of heterosexual couples divorcing or fathers abandoning their family, because divorces only started happening in record numbers when gay marriages were legalized! BTW, fun fact, the first and so far only president of the United States with a previous divorce was Ronald Reagan. So much for examplifying conservative, family values!

    June 18, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. annie s

    Thank you, Mr. President, for the wonderful example you set for young men in this country.

    June 18, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. RH

    Oh, those poor little girls... Give me a break.

    June 18, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. Joshua

    People do not need fathers. I grew up without a father and feel I'm doing just fine. He's just pushing the same propaganda we've been getting from evangelicals for years.

    June 18, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. Oweta

    My 18-year-old son has an 8-month old baby boy ... he sees him once to twice a week right now. My son's father died when my son was 8 years old; my own father died when I was 14. I know he's deeply felt the abandonment, however unintentional, by his father. I'm going to share the Parade article with him this Sunday ... he admires President Obama and I think he will take his words to heart in his own search for how to be a good father to his son.

    June 18, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  15. CR

    What a great role model President Obama is for everyone!

    June 18, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. Peter E

    Raising children is very expensive in this country, and that's one of the top reasons why fathers abandon their families. Families have trouble having ends meet. This isn't about choosing a career over a child, since just to raise a child you are forced to work hard at your career to come up with the money needed. And one medical emergency can throw you into debt forever! Companies' so-called 'family-friendly' policies are a sham, and only apply to mothers, and only for limited amounts of time. We need to come down hard on businesses that make it much more difficult for families to raise children. And government should reward companies with real family-friendly policies with incentives.

    June 18, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  17. Kenyan Wonder Kid

    Media Obasm obsession continues. Puke.

    June 18, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. janice tillman

    as i read this story, it brought to mind the times that my husband was away from his girls because of work. he was an over the road truck driver and he missed many moments from his children. however, when he came home he always reassurred them of his love for them. as his wife and mother of his children, i tried to keep him informed of what was going on with them. as of this date, i have not heard them say anything negative about their dad not being there everyday. i thank god that he was in the midst of our family keeping us together.
    today the girls are 24 and 23. they have gradutated with a bs and are productive citizens and pursuing doctorates. our family motto is "if you honor god he will honor you". i pray that more men will begin to father their children. thank you for the opportunity to respond.

    June 18, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. skyhawkdriver

    Thank you mr president for very well spoken words..you and I don't see eye to eye on many things but I share your sentiments 100 percent on being a dad..the proud father of three

    June 18, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. bill

    caint believe cnn would post bush and PRESIDENT OBAMA.on same ticker page.bush screwed everything up.now its time to shut up.this idiot had eight looong years.only thing i would like to see bush in is yellow prision jump suit.

    June 18, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. CAL

    You are a good father Mr President, it shows in how much you daughter's love you and interact with you.

    June 18, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. Tom Paine

    Speak for yourself, Obama.

    June 18, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Mae

    Happy Father's Day Pres. Obama.

    Mae

    June 18, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Simmy

    So wonderful to see him with his young beautiful angels.....The hands that rock the cradles may rule the world.....But without the man there would be no hands....

    June 18, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Charles

    What a wonderful read!

    Now, how about drafting language for some of your idealist policies instead of just saying "health care, environment, and education" as your answer for everything, without providing any real specifics.

    June 18, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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