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. Sniffit

    Thanks dude...as if it's not bad enough that fathers are pretty much considered the 2nd class parent by our society in the first place. I'm a little disappointed in this tack he took here: fact is, we need parents in general to start stepping it up in this country, not just fathers. I suppose I shouldn't blame him though...I can't imagine the uproar if on Mother's Day he told mothers to get off their butts, turn off the boob-tube electric babysitter and stop shopping around for ADHD diagnoses because they can't control their kid after telling him/her day in day out that they're the smartest, the most handsome/beautiful and calling the school to complain every time the kid gets a bad grade or a reprimand from a teacher.

    June 18, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. Ted

    Great Dad, Great President. Thanks Barack. You are the greatest.

    June 18, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Good message to send Mr. President.

    June 18, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. Happy Father's Day

    I really like President Obama. He's a great guy and a wonderful father.

    Kudos to you Mr. President. You're doing a great job.

    June 18, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. sifto77

    Not exploiting the children again?! !Does he not have to have the same standards set by the dems for Sara Palin?

    June 18, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. james

    he has done that,he gave his daughters a bigger bill they owe the goverment due too dads wreckless spending.

    June 18, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. I laugh at Limbaugh daily

    Hes a good President so far and it seems a great father and husband.Rush could be a great father too,but men cant have babies.

    June 18, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. dEE-dEE

    I think I am one of the fortunate few who happen to have a great man who LOVE out two Daughters. As an african Wast Indian ( I am Black from Barbados and Married to an American) it sadden me to hear about those fathers who arent there but nothing about the many that are there.
    HAPPY FATHERS DAYS to all you GREAT men Who Not only Stayed but Take care of your Families.

    June 18, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. Tim

    I step up on a constant basis, so obviously he wasn't addressing this to me. I wonder who he is addressing it to?

    June 18, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Butch

    What a narcissist.

    He probably frames all the magazine covers and puts them on his wall to look at.

    Stick to business, Obama. The Office of President is not your personal platform for self-promotion.

    June 18, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. e-man

    Can we PLEASE not cover this man anymore?

    Until he's indicted on war crimes, let him remain in the sticks!

    He and Cheney need to be quiet.

    8 years of those two - quite enough!

    June 18, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Joe Beck

    I have been stepping up! I don't need any comments from you about being a father! I have 4 children. 2 I raised myself since they we're one and two and no support from the mother! Why does your message have to be about stepping up! Why don't you make your message to the mothers who denie children access to their fathers, who lie in court, who disregard Court Orders. Why am i considered to rich for low income housing when all my money goes to the mother! Azz hole get off my back jack!

    June 18, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Gina in Racine Wi

    One of the many reasons why I love this man so much.

    Great Father
    Great American
    Great President

    June 18, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. white female

    What a Man--Thank you Mr. President for your POISE, HUMOR, AND PATIENCE, and for the example you have been setting, showing,leading, and to have the wisdom and knowledge to lead.
    I had a Grandfather, Father, and have Brothers like you.
    I am proud to say I am a Black American woman-61yrs old. I thought that I would not have live to see this day come that we would have such a GEM of a human mankind to lead us back to grace and respect, that was taught to us from our Fathers and Mothers of yester years. HAPPY FATHERS DAY AND ENJOY YOUR DAY. GIVE YOUR GIRLS LOTS OF HUGS.

    June 18, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Jo

    Hope some of the dead beat dad can read, and comprehend this message. Very well written and enlighten the eyes of fathers who leave their children behind for many reasons or another.

    June 18, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. johnnie /

    president obama, i too had been abandon by my father, at 9 years old and, the void was tough to deal with.he was a good man, but my mother and him , could not agree on most things. so he left with dissapointment. so my mother became my protector, i have two beautiful daughters, and in their early years, i was not there, and had deep regret. but i turn that around , when they got into their early teens. and restored trust and got their forgiveness, i married a great woman,and she gave me three wonderfull sons. we are a strong family, and our children have given us, one grandaughter and 7 grandsons. it is a blessing to be a father, and am proud to see you are a good father as well.god bless all the fathers of this great nation. and too the first lady and my wife, god bless them too. we support you mr.president, keep up the good work. best regards johnnie and bree walker.

    June 18, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  17. Danny E. Gonzalez

    I love this quote: "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was,the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child" I love my kids and I tell them that every day, I am also very tough on them teaching them right from wrong; that I feel is my responsibility as a Dad, and I must say that I love that job. may all other Dads have a great day... this should be a positive note for everyone.

    June 18, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. Longhorn#1

    Isn't that customary of your father's.

    June 18, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  19. honest Ab

    If many men only knew how important their role is in the house, they would not be so quick to abandon it. This is why so many young girls are out their chasing little boys, trying to fill that empty void.

    Dads please wake and father your sons and daughters. I would love to see our fathers break the cycle of racism as well, so that our daughters will know that they can be loved by all men. This will break many barriers and bring hope to a great nation.

    May God truly raise up our men to be a true representation of Him, and that is how to love, protect, and provide for their family. Teaching our children to respect themselves and others. Teaching our sons to grow up to be productive and responsible young men, who will make good husbands for our daughters. May God grant them wisdom and knoweledge to become true headsmen of them their home. Amen!

    June 18, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. ObamaShrugged

    This is news, but nothing about ABC television refusing the RNC ads opposing Obama's socialization of healthcare. I guess you only complain about freedom of speech when you agree with the point of view. When is Ted Turner's night to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom?

    June 18, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. T KS

    Obama is true role model for all American men! May we have more leaders like him in our future. God bless him.

    June 18, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  22. Arnie

    Now, this is worth reading. If you are nothing else you are a great role model for fathers. And I am proud to say that you are my President. This message is powerful. I am not a father but this makes me want to become one and to be great at it. Thank you Mr. President. If we can fix this problem in our society we will solve a lot of the moral issues that we face in today's society

    June 18, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. Allen

    I'm a moron! And I want everyone to know this.......

    June 18, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. Annette

    Good for you Prez!

    June 18, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. Dont blame me

    Obama , why don't you STEP DOWN.

    June 18, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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