Obama to fathers: Be involved in your kids' lives

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Donnyboy

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#1
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer Ben Feller, Associated Press Writer – Fri Jun 19, 7:44 pm ET
WASHINGTON – Growing up without a father left a hole in his heart, President Barack Obama told boys at the White House Friday in a remarkably personal Father's Day weekend message. He implored fathers everywhere — and the kids when they're older — to be involved in the lives of their own children.

"This isn't an obligation," said the father of two in a message to millions of wayward dads. "This is a privilege to be a father."

Obama spent hours on Friday with teenagers, young men, community mentors and everyday dads in hopes of launching what he called a national conversation on responsible fatherhood. Each story was personal. But one of them commanded the most attention: his own.

He spoke at length about how his father, Barack Obama Sr., left home early. The future president was just 2 at the time and saw his dad only once more, at age 10, a short visit that still left a lasting imprint.

"I had a heroic mom and wonderful grandparents who helped raise me and my sister, and it's because of them that I'm able to stand here today," he told a throng of youngsters and leaders of community organizations. "But despite all their extraordinary love and attention, that doesn't mean that I didn't feel my father's absence. That's something that leaves a hole in a child's heart that a government can't fill."

In candid terms, Obama said he promised himself he would not repeat his own father's mistakes.

"Just because your own father wasn't there for you, that's not an excuse for you to be absent also. It's all the more reason for you to be present," Obama told the young men in his audience.

"You have an obligation to break the cycle and to learn from those mistakes, and to rise up where your own fathers fell short and to do better than they did with your own children," Obama said. "That's what I've tried to do in my life."

An estimated 24 million American children are growing up with absent fathers, and a disproportionate number of them are African-American. Those children are at higher risk of falling into lives of poverty and crime and becoming parents themselves in their teenage years.

The White House is trying to tackle that problem, adding to its packed domestic agenda, but without seeking legislation or new policies. It is sponsoring forums around the country this summer and fall to promote programs for mentors and fathers and to see how the federal government can support them.

And then there is Obama's personal attention. Only issues of special importance to a president get a full afternoon of his time.

Obama began with a visit to a nonprofit center that trains young men and women from urban backgrounds for high-tech careers or higher education; he later led the town hall in the East Room and then mingled with youngsters on the South Lawn as they chatted with other big names and got some lessons about life.

Danilo Downing, a 16-year-old who just finished his sophomore year at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Va., said the White House visit changed his life. He's never met his father, and connected with the president's comments.

"I think of him as my father now," Downing said after he shook Obama's hand and got a pat on the back. "He's really special to me. He's an amazing man."

The president and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters: Sasha, 8, and Malia, 10.

"I've been far from perfect," Obama said in measuring himself as a father. "But in the end it's not about being perfect. It's not always about succeeding. It's about always trying. And that's something everybody can do. It's about showing up and sticking with it."

When one boy asked whether it was more fun being a father or being president, Obama chose fatherhood.

"Now, my kids aren't teenagers yet, so I don't know whether that will maintain itself," Obama said. "But right now the greatest joy I get is just hanging out with the girls and talking to them."

The best moment he's had as president? A parent-teacher conference when he heard gushing compliments about his girls.

On the South Lawn, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden circulated among the groups of teen boys. The youngsters sat in small groups with mentors ranging from celebrity chefs to military officers to businessmen and politicians. The adults shared their stories of becoming men.

One of the mentors, retired basketball star Alonzo Mourning, told a group of boys: "You'll be dads one day. Help your kid develop the comfort to speak to you about anything. ... Anything."
 

RxCowboy

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You know... for very personal reasons I don't want to discuss here... this really chaps my fanny... and it doesn't have anything to do with Obama, it happens in churches all across the country. On Mother's Day, mothers are adored and thanked. On Father's Day, fathers are given a swift kick in the nads and told what a crummy job they're doing and what they need to do better. No one would ever think of delivering such a message on Mother's Day.

I've actually thought about skipping church on Father's Day. It's painful.
 

Slugger926

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You know... for very personal reasons I don't want to discuss here... this really chaps my fanny... and it doesn't have anything to do with Obama, it happens in churches all across the country. On Mother's Day, mothers are adored and thanked. On Father's Day, fathers are given a swift kick in the nads and told what a crummy job they're doing and what they need to do better. No one would ever think of delivering such a message on Mother's Day.

I've actually thought about skipping church on Father's Day. It's painful.
Maybe it is the Churches you attend. It seems like all of the Churches I have been to treat the fathers on Father's Day close to how they treat the Mom's.
:D

Of course, I can point out some neighborhoods where both the dad's and mom's need a swift kick in the rear.
 

CowboyJD

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You know... for very personal reasons I don't want to discuss here... this really chaps my fanny... and it doesn't have anything to do with Obama, it happens in churches all across the country. On Mother's Day, mothers are adored and thanked. On Father's Day, fathers are given a swift kick in the nads and told what a crummy job they're doing and what they need to do better. No one would ever think of delivering such a message on Mother's Day.

I've actually thought about skipping church on Father's Day. It's painful.
Amen brother, I feel the same way.

I also hate that in almost every kids tv show or family movie out there, if there is an intact, traditional family, almost always the father is portrayed as an out of touch, lovable, nincompoop while mom is portrayed as the glue that keeps the family together.

Such double standards is also one of the reasons I really dislike Oprah. She plays on such stereotypes all the time.
 

Donnyboy

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Amen brother, I feel the same way.

I also hate that in almost every kids tv show or family movie out there, if there is an intact, traditional family, almost always the father is portrayed as an out of touch, lovable, nincompoop while mom is portrayed as the glue that keeps the family together.
Such double standards is also one of the reasons I really dislike Oprah. She plays on such stereotypes all the time.
So true....

Father's day is a card company holiday.
 

naranjaynegro

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#7
You know... for very personal reasons I don't want to discuss here... this really chaps my fanny... and it doesn't have anything to do with Obama, it happens in churches all across the country. On Mother's Day, mothers are adored and thanked. On Father's Day, fathers are given a swift kick in the nads and told what a crummy job they're doing and what they need to do better. No one would ever think of delivering such a message on Mother's Day.

I've actually thought about skipping church on Father's Day. It's painful.
Well, when you look at the stats......fathers (overall) aren't sticking around to see their kids grow up and be a part of their lives......as he noted, it is especially problematic in the African-American community. Either the men are impregnating women and running away from their responsibiliites or they are divorcing the mother of their children and end up drifting away from being in the kid's lives or contributing financially. And we wonder why we have a lot of social problems in this country? I think single issue points to a big part of it.

Obama may be plotting to attack this issue (like seemingly every problem this country currently has) but I don't see him making much of an impact other than the promotion of a plan to cut the nads off of post-pubescent males in this country or putting a norplant in every female.......

I've got a nasty case of athlete's foot.....I'm wondering when Obama is going to put together an aggressive plan to help me out?:rolleyes:
 

State

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#8
Ok, while we're at it, I hate that so much attention is paid to breast cancer than prostate cancer even though it's more dangerous!

Can't fault Obama for what he's doing though, especially if it helps the black community.
 

Cimarron

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#9
Well, when you look at the stats......fathers (overall) aren't sticking around to see their kids grow up and be a part of their lives......as he noted, it is especially problematic in the African-American community. Either the men are impregnating women and running away from their responsibiliites or they are divorcing the mother of their children and end up drifting away from being in the kid's lives or contributing financially. And we wonder why we have a lot of social problems in this country? I think single issue points to a big part of it.
This is true, there are a lot of fathers that skip out on their children. But a lot of fathers get a bad break as well. Most divorces end up with the kids living with the mother and she has custody.

This is often used against the fathers and they don't have daily input into the lives of their children. They have lives and have often re-married and have step children to balance as well. For a father to be active in his childrens lives, the mother has an equal responsibility to make that possible, and I doubt that is done as much as some would like to beleive.
 

Cimarron

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Amen brother, I feel the same way.

I also hate that in almost every kids tv show or family movie out there, if there is an intact, traditional family, almost always the father is portrayed as an out of touch, lovable, nincompoop while mom is portrayed as the glue that keeps the family together.

Such double standards is also one of the reasons I really dislike Oprah. She plays on such stereotypes all the time.
When I watch those types of shows I also wonder with such an idiot father how they afford to live as they do by looking at the house in the show.
 

OSU Sig

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Ok, while we're at it, I hate that so much attention is paid to breast cancer than prostate cancer even though it's more dangerous!

Can't fault Obama for what he's doing though, especially if it helps the black community.
Well said.

By the way, I would like to see our President be a good influence and role model on all communities, not just the black ones. This is my peeve. We need to quit putting our own neighbors and fellow citizens in boxes according to their color. Who cares what color people are?
 

panhandler62

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#13
I get an extra parenting day for father's day, so it's a special day for me.

I am charged by my nation to be a good citizen, by my boss to be a good employee, but my charge to be a good father, husband and neighbor comes from a higher office.

I don't mind having my leash snapped from time to time to remind me of that.
 
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#14
Pres. Obama said:
"This isn't an obligation," said the father of two in a message to millions of wayward dads. "This is a privilege to be a father."
.
.
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"You have an obligation to break the cycle and to learn from those mistakes, and to rise up where your own fathers fell short and to do better than they did with your own children," Obama said. "That's what I've tried to do in my life."
Like most of the rest of you, I don't fault the Pres. for what he said. I sincerely hope it influences some of today's young men to be better fathers and role models for their kids, but the above excerpts jumped out at me.

I'm pretty sure I get the point of what he was trying to say, but where many men fail is in addressing their "obligations" as fathers. There is an obligation there, but it is a privilege to be able to watch your children develop into the young men and women we hope and pray they can be.

Like the old saying goes: "Any man can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad."
 
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#15
This is true, there are a lot of fathers that skip out on their children. But a lot of fathers get a bad break as well. Most divorces end up with the kids living with the mother and she has custody.

This is often used against the fathers and they don't have daily input into the lives of their children. They have lives and have often re-married and have step children to balance as well. For a father to be active in his childrens lives, the mother has an equal responsibility to make that possible, and I doubt that is done as much as some would like to beleive.
I agree that that this component of absent fathers that really gets talked about it. I have seen father's that desperately wanted to be a part of their kids lives, but the ex-wife made it extremely difficult to do so. Policies (like custody) clearly have at least some impact on how involved fathers are or are not.

Danilo Downing, a 16-year-old who just finished his sophomore year at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Va., said the White House visit changed his life. He's never met his father, and connected with the president's comments.

"I think of him as my father now," Downing said after he shook Obama's hand and got a pat on the back. "He's really special to me. He's an amazing man."
I think it is great that Obama is making a point to talk about this, as this is clearly an issue to be addressed (as clearly indicated by the above quote). Maybe there are other men involved in this kid's life and this was just a spur of the moment response, but it is so sad for this kid.
 

Donnyboy

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#16
There is a PSA type ad running with the Pres. today and I applaud him for it. It may not be fair that mom's get pat on the back and dad's get a kick in the rear but there are a lot of kicks in a lot of rears needed and he is in a very good place to do so.
 

panhandler62

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#17
Like the old saying goes: "Any man can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad."
Or.. to quote Kanue (from "Parenthood")
You have to have a lisence to have a dog but they'll let any ____ _______ _______ be a father.

I do agree with an earlier sentiment though. As a father; a man expects himself to be able to satisfy any need of his family. This is a tall order and most of us have more than a few sleepless nights pondering how to uphold it.

When ass-kickings are handed out it seems like the only one's who take it to heart are the ones already being fathers. Those who barely rise above "sperm doner" tend to ignore this stuff.
 
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#18
Amen brother, I feel the same way.

I also hate that in almost every kids tv show or family movie out there, if there is an intact, traditional family, almost always the father is portrayed as an out of touch, lovable, nincompoop while mom is portrayed as the glue that keeps the family together.

Such double standards is also one of the reasons I really dislike Oprah. She plays on such stereotypes all the time.
Not to mention how often it's thrown in our face that men in fact are either not wanted to or not needed. Specifically that set of women who don't care to have a male partner and either have in vitro fertilization as a single mother or adopt. And then there are the lesbian sets who want to "have a family" and don't recognize that two mothers are any different than a mother and a father. I'm sure we all have seen the real life examples as well as the media portrayals in Movies and TV shows. The culmination of all these situations both real and portrayed are repeating the message that men (fathers) aren't necessary. The days of "Father Knows Best" are long gone.
 

Cowboy2U

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#19
I've heard this from Bill Cosby for YEARS...obama doesn't have any new concepts here. Yeh, he's right but responsible role models have been saying this for years. What's next? obama's gonna tell everyone how few kids actually get into professional sports and selling drugs is no way to make a living. If only Cosby had been running...better wisdom and sometimes actually funny.
 
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#20
You know... for very personal reasons I don't want to discuss here... this really chaps my fanny... and it doesn't have anything to do with Obama, it happens in churches all across the country. On Mother's Day, mothers are adored and thanked. On Father's Day, fathers are given a swift kick in the nads and told what a crummy job they're doing and what they need to do better. No one would ever think of delivering such a message on Mother's Day.

I've actually thought about skipping church on Father's Day. It's painful.
If you are interested, I'd like to send you a copy of my church's service. It was a great message about how God has called all father's to a higher calling.