Obama talks about the importance of fathers

President Obama has always been a very credible speaker on the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. In his memoirs and in speeches on and off the campaign trail, he has spoken about his own life and how the absence of his father affected him.

His parents divorced when he was very young, and his father went back to Kenya. Obama saw him on one visit after that.

Today, the president carried the Father’s Day theme into extra innings with a White House event in which he urged more paternal responsibility. Among those in attendance, according to the White House invitation list, was Morehouse President Robert Franklin.

Earlier, the president visited one of Washington’s poorer neighborhoods to announce a new initiative to support fathers.

From the WaPo:

Speaking a day after Father’s Day, in what is becoming an annual ritual for the Obama administration, the president acknowledged the limits of government in forcing men to be good fathers, but said society still has an interest in providing support so that fathers can meet their responsibilities to their children.

“I can’t legislate fatherhood,” Obama told an audience at the ARC in Southeast Washington. “I can’t force anybody to love a child. ” . . . What we can do is come together and support fathers who are willing to step up. . .

“When fathers abandon their responsibilities, there is harm done to those kids,” the president said. “They are more likely to live in poverty, they are more likely to drop out of school, they are more likely to wind up in prison.”

And from Politico:

“We also know that what too many fathers being absent means – too many fathers missing from too many homes, missing from too many lives,” the president said. “We know that when fathers abandon their responsibilities, there’s harm done to those kids.”

“And I say all this as someone who grew up without a father in my own life,” Obama went on. “He left my family when I was two years old. And while I was lucky to have a wonderful mother and loving grandparents who poured everything they had into me and my sister, I still felt the weight of that absence. It’s something that leaves a hole in a child’s life that no government can fill.”

Obama noted that his own father had left his family when the president was two, and said he still feels “the weight of that absence.”

The key message, he said: “Our children don’t need us to be superheros. 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.” ”

Obama also announced a new initiative to support fathers, including those who have been in prison.

Obama is asking Congress to allocate $500 million for a Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation Fund, which would give grants to nonprofits that support fathers and families, including job training programs and economic incentives for dads. The initiative will also fund programs to fight domestic violence and help find jobs for men just leaving prison. The goal is to have former prisoners paying child support and reconnecting with their children as soon as possible, officials said.

In a time of political unease over blooming budget deficits, Congress may not fund Obama’s new program. But the president still manages a very important role that doesn’t require any new spending: he is an excellent role-model for responsible fatherhood.

142 comments Add your comment

Urban Republican

June 21st, 2010
5:19 pm

Ms. Tucker:

Nice sentiments indeed, fathers do need to be apart of their childrens lives.

I hope the initiative will include the option of expunging a felony conviction after a number of years if a father has served time and, or has paid restitution to society for the crime done.

In many communities, fathers who have a felony conviction will unlikely get a decent paying job to support his children if he lives with his family or pay child support if the father does not reside in the home.

Many of the “menial jobs” currently done by illegal immigrants could be done by rehabilitated ex-felons if Democrats, liberals and the Obama Administration secured the borders first!!!

Scout

June 21st, 2010
5:22 pm

It’s too bad he has no compassion for fathers who do not want their child aborted.

Union

June 21st, 2010
5:25 pm

kudos to obama.. kind of sad.. bill cosby said the same thing.. the black community ripped him a new one…

neo-Carlinist

June 21st, 2010
5:29 pm

Not even gonna touch this one. $500 million? Might as well set up a grant program to develop “innovative” ideas to teach Americans how to, excercise, eat right, and brush their teeth. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and if it was always broke, it’s gonna take more than $500 million to fix it. The President of the United States freely admits he essentially had “no father” after the age of two. Seems like it’s a case-by-case phenom, and $500 million ain’t gonna change a thing.

Happy Roe v Wade Day

June 21st, 2010
5:32 pm

Scout, good point. The pro-abortion crowd will tell you, “well, technically, you were not a father…”

Granny Godzilla

June 21st, 2010
5:36 pm

If President Obama needs any advice he could call my pop.

He taught me the importance of fathers.

Hootinanny Yum Yum

June 21st, 2010
5:36 pm

Is it that fathers are absent or is it that some mothers see children as a means to government handouts?

arnold

June 21st, 2010
5:45 pm

Fathers and mothers need to be present. Lack of parental involvement in childrens lives is the primary cause of their failure. I’m glad to see our President involved with his children and presenting a positive role model for others.

ctucker

June 21st, 2010
5:46 pm

Union, You don’t know what you’re talking about. Black Americans are not monolithic; I wrote several columns praising Cosby, and many black readers applauded the columns

ctucker

June 21st, 2010
5:47 pm

Urban Republican, I agree that ex-felons, even those trying hard to go straight, have difficulty getting jobs.

neo-Carlinist

June 21st, 2010
5:53 pm

Well, I guess the socioligists are finally gonna “get paid”. Every culture is different, folks. Is there a difference betwee a kid whose dad whose reserve unit got activated, requiring “dad” to spend 3 years in Iraq and Afghanistan – with mom on food stamps or government assistance to help make ends meet, and a kid in Clarke county whose dad is doing 5 years for selling weed to rich white kids at UGA, because it pays a whole lot better than selling the same kids a sack of Krystals at the drive-through? My dad made it a point to be home every night for dinner, but I went to school with kids whose dads were traveling salesmen. And what makes “dad’s attendance so important? As mothers have entered the work place, maybe a couple hundred million can be earmarked for the effects of absentee moms (single and married) who “outsource” parenting to after school daycare, “play dates” or youth soccer leagues.

kayaker 71

June 21st, 2010
5:53 pm

CT,

“Many black leaders” may have applauded your columns but Mr. Cosby garnered endless criticism from the black community as to his stand for more responsibility from fathers of single mothers raising children. All of your columns and all of Mr. Cosby’s rhetoric have not changed a single thing.

Peachtree Pete

June 21st, 2010
6:15 pm

If the black community isn’t “monolithic” (or close enough to it), how does one explain voting patterns?

Scout

June 21st, 2010
6:26 pm

The only reason Obama is president is that blacks voted “monolithic”.

Alvin Greene for Senate in SC

June 21st, 2010
6:31 pm

Obama appears to be a good dad to his girls.

The details of his personal life with his wife and kids are nobody’s damn business.

My dad was everything to me when I was a kid.

NO WAY WHATSOEVER SHOULD ANY TAXPAYER MONEY GO TO FUND “DADS IN PRISON” !!!

HELL NO !!!!

GOVERNMENT GET OUT AND GO AWAY!

Booooooo Cynthia ! BOOOOOOOOO!

Alvin Greene for Senate in SC

June 21st, 2010
6:34 pm

They’re getting out of prison? Good luck. Don’t eff up.

Bye!

Urban Republican

June 21st, 2010
6:41 pm

Peachtree Pete:

The black community is not monolithic in thinking about politics. I agree a small percentage, less than 5% voted for John McCain in 2008.

But, I suspect an increasing number of unemployed college educated and small business owners who are black will be voting Republican. The socialist/liberal leanings of the current Administration is affecting folks pocketbooks and lifestyles!!!

neo-Carlinist

June 21st, 2010
6:46 pm

Scout and Peachtree Pete, CT said “blacks are not monolithic” and this is an accurate statement. A more accurate counter would be “liberals are monolithic” and this includes white liberals – but such an observation is self-evident, bording on redundant. Shame on whomever introduced race into this. Let’s look at some white dads: Bernie Madoff, Michael Douglas, John Gotti, Robert Downey, Sr. Terry Nichols, and how about Mr. Anti-Semitism/Old School Catholic himself, Mel Gibson? There is no one size fits all (weak metaphor for “monolothic”). As I said, it’s not a “dad” thing, it’s a “parent” thing, and every culture and every generation places different – if any – value on these institutions. Obama’s story is a nice one, but $500 million isn’t going to change a thing ‘cept give Rush, and Glenn and Sean some red meat to throw to their “monolothic” followers.

Sam (The Cool 1 )

June 21st, 2010
7:00 pm

Well, The Cisco Kid and Poncho are great Father figures.

arnold

June 21st, 2010
7:10 pm

It must be wonderful to be a conservative. Keep government out, unless of course, you want them to clean up the oil.

Jimmy62

June 21st, 2010
7:20 pm

You know what would be great for Fathers? End the War on Drugs, which has taken away more fathers from their children than anything else. And many of them committed the crime of smoking a little pot while having dark skin. It’s the biggest injustice going these days, and until we face it, families are going to continue to fall apart.

“Keep government out, unless of course, you want them to clean up the oil.”

You display a vast ignorance of conservative and libertarian thought. Disaster recovery, foreign policy and military matters are some of the few valid responsibilities of the federal government under our Constitution. Maybe if you bother to find out what we really think, you could have an intelligent discussion about the issues, but as long as you deliberately mischaracterize our beliefs, then it’s really pointless trying to discuss it with you.

Alvin Greene for Senate in SC

June 21st, 2010
7:25 pm

Ahhnuld is either blogging from jail or mommie’s basement.

Either way… GONG !!!!

Alvin Greene for Senate in SC

June 21st, 2010
7:29 pm

Please support my candidacy. In these uncertain times the nation needs leadership.

Please go alvingreene2010 dot com.

Progress in 2010 and beyond.

President Obama will fix these problems. He just needs control…..

arnold

June 21st, 2010
7:37 pm

Alvin…Just keep up your foolish political campaign. Just keep showing your a++.

Vinny

June 21st, 2010
8:11 pm

“Weeeeaaaan us Barack! Wean us from oil!”, Cynthia cries out.
Like Obama could actually lead the country to do anything.
He’s a dictator, not a leader!

mvl

June 21st, 2010
8:16 pm

If President Obama ended the wars overseas perhaps more dads could be home soon. Glad the President spent time this Father’s Day weekend going to a ballgame and playing golf. Sure beats spending time worrying about all those fathers in the Gulf states. The President talks a great game but he doesn’t know how to get anything done. Can’t wait for the next photo op.

Granny Godzilla

June 21st, 2010
8:39 pm

the sky is falling!

the smoking gun is a mushroom cloud!

obama plays golf and stays fit!

it’s the end of the world as we know it!

Scout

June 21st, 2010
8:42 pm

Sam (The Cool 1 ):

You have got to quit that. My side is killing me !

Remember though, Cisco spelled backwards is ocsiC and Poncho is ohcnoP

BTW: I am NOT making this up. I saw a car today with a bumper sticker that said:

“Gore in ‘64″ !!!

Carter is a Fool

June 21st, 2010
8:48 pm

He should talk about the importance of leadership and then BE ONE. He needs to lead the country back from the cliff of bankruptcy where he has steered us with his budget busting bills and horrific health care de-form scheme.

He might stark with kicking himself in a$$ over his bungled handling of the oil well leak. He needs a course direction or he will soon pass Jimmy in the worst President race.

TW

June 21st, 2010
8:57 pm

Been a long time since we had a President with the class and integrity of this one.

Thanks for the article, ctucker.

Ronald H. Christ

June 21st, 2010
8:57 pm

…a small percentage, less than 5% voted for John McCain in 2008.

About the same percentages that voted for Dole and GWB in both 2000 and 2004.

Also close to the percentages those men got from American Jewish voters…

TW

June 21st, 2010
9:03 pm

When ‘w’ was prez, the white-trash meth-head population of North Georgia exploded. Worse than that, he spawned a whole new generation of low-lifes who are proud to be tea-baggers!

ewwwwwwwwwww

Oh, and Scout says “It’s too bad he has no compassion for fathers who do not want their child aborted.”

Get real, if white men could get pregnant, you’d be able to get an abortion out of a Coke machine.

BeBe KID

June 21st, 2010
9:09 pm

If somehow the message that manhood is not in your penis can penetrate the minds of many young black men and not the vagina of many young black women, the black community would not be so fragmented but with reality TV featuring goldigging “HO”s and wanna be PLAYAS like basketball wives and the ultimate merger featuring OmaGrossa, the PIMP HO syndrome will continue to plague the black community.

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 21st, 2010
9:26 pm

Obama talks about the importance of fathers
5:00 pm June 21, 2010, by ctucker
——————-

Maybe one day he’ll talk about the importance of the constitution. Probably not, he doesn’t know any more about that than he does about fathers.

Rafe Hollister

June 21st, 2010
9:27 pm

Sin-thee: I thot we could agree on something finally, the value of fathers. Mine was wonderful and the most important man in my life. BUT, then I finally made it to the end of the post. $500,000.000 for what? The man couldn’t advocate taking you son or daughter to a ballgame without setting aside massive amounts of money for some boondoggle commission to monitor adherence and assistance to those chlldren who didn’t get to go to the ballgame. Maybe the absence of his father during his life is the excuse but he lives in a different universe than Ma and Pa Kettle and other great Americans.

joan

June 21st, 2010
9:45 pm

Sure, would be great if fathers could be in the home, but some of those fathers probably don’t even know they are fathers–I mean a one night stand doesn’t really amount to a relationship after all. Government has made it easier for mothers to get aid if there is no dad around–incentive to ditch the guy. And parenting–seems like it is becoming a lost art. Now parents just want to bear the child, and let institutions raise him. Something they were way ahead of us in China already. $500 million? About the same amount of money this administration has sent to Kenya to fund an Islamic court system. I am well and truly frightened for this country.

jt

June 21st, 2010
9:45 pm

“$500 million for a Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation Fund, which would give grants to nonprofits that support fathers and families, including job training programs and economic incentives for dads.”

Just like a low-life lawyer. It is all about money.
\
Hasn’t the Federal government did enough to the American family?

We are living the blowback now since they first started interfering into the family unit.

Leave us alone.

Moderate Line

June 21st, 2010
9:46 pm

This issue seems very personal to him. I have always said the more people who care about you as child the better chance you have. His father was not around but his grandparents were.

Ponder

June 21st, 2010
9:59 pm

“…Obama is asking Congress to allocate $500 million for a Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation Fund, …”

Typical liberal economics. Just pour more money after a problem instead of encouraging people to be responsible in the first place!!!!!!

cgatlanta

June 21st, 2010
10:56 pm

So now we have to pay black fathers to raise their children? Interesting; I do it for free. More interesting is Obama chose “african-american” on the census and apparently his father deserted him. For the first time in my adult life, I’m not proud to be an American.

Scout

June 21st, 2010
11:01 pm

“Daddy, can I have two fathers?”

Acer706

June 21st, 2010
11:23 pm

I do agree that Pres. Obama does seem to be a great father to is two girls. However, support for father’s already exists as The Dept. of Labor.

Tall

June 21st, 2010
11:30 pm

….”economic incentives for dads”…? What am I missing? You father a child, the child is your responsibility. How much further can we fall? Maybe abortion is a good thing.

itpdude

June 21st, 2010
11:35 pm

God bless you, Ms. Tucker.

The issue of fathers leaving prison is a biggie. How can a man do well, even if he wants to, if he’s essentially a leper after serving his time?

This is not to say the dude needs to be running a bank or a daycare or whatever. But it is saying if we, as a society, release a man into society because he’s “reformed”, we ought to provide opportunities for those who really want to turn their lives around.

It’s the right thing to do. It’s the pragmatic thing to do. Most of all, it’s the Christian thing to do.

Tommt Maddox

June 22nd, 2010
12:29 am

The bad thing is that we are no longer a Christian nation – just ask any of the folks on here!

voter

June 22nd, 2010
3:13 am

The govt needs to stay out of people’s lives. No one owes felons anything, not a second chance or a free pass, even if they are reformed. They should have a harder time finding a good job, and the benefits that a person with a clean past has EARNED! I guess everyone is a victim though, except the responsible taxpayer.

Jeff

June 22nd, 2010
6:19 am

Did Obama lecture moms on Mother’s Day about areas they needed to improve on? No. So he’s NOT a credible speaker on fatherhood. Your entire premise is flawed from the first sentence. As usual.

ken

June 22nd, 2010
7:08 am

I was born 8 months after my Mother and Father were married. My Father was a GREAT man. Thanks DAD.
Seems like the word PARENTS doesn’t have the ring that it once had.

ken

June 22nd, 2010
7:12 am

Tommy Maddox, you are so correct. I am getting to be an old man and this country ain’t what it use to be. Doesn’t look good going ahead either.

kulfv

June 22nd, 2010
7:30 am

maybe mrs o could take her jumping jack and carrot eating fitness plan for kids and get all the prison dads to lead the exercise program in all the daycare and rec centers. she could pay them with the $500 mil and the government could deduct their back child support.