…life is tough for a lot of Americans today. More and more kids grow up without a father figure. Others miss a father who’s away serving his country in uniform. And even for those dads who are present in their children’s lives, the recession has taken a harsh toll. If you’re out of a job or struggling to pay the bills, doing whatever it takes to keep the kids healthy, happy and safe can understandably take precedence over all else.
President Obama marked Father’s Day weekend with a blend of the personal and political address this morning, discussing his role with his daughters and the absence of his own father–and the impact of fatherhood on his own life.
I grew up without my father around. He left when I was two years old, and even though my sister and I were lucky enough to have a wonderful mother and caring grandparents to raise us, I felt his absence. And I wonder what my life would have been like had he been a greater presence.
Children, he said, need time, structure, self-discipline, responsibility and unconditional love. And he pointed to initiatives he said his administration is pursuing in order to help fathers in various stations in life spend more time with their children to help them acquire these necessary character skills:
my administration has offered men who want to be good fathers a little extra support. We’ve boosted community and faith-based groups focused on fatherhood, partnered with businesses to offer opportunities for fathers to spend time with their kids at the bowling alley or ballpark, and worked with military chaplains to help deployed dads connect with their children.
More information about the programs, he said, can be found at Fatherhood.gov.
He circled back to conclude the address on a more personal note, this time discussing his efforts to insert himself deeper into the day-to-day lives of his daughters.
So recently, I took on a second job: assistant coach for Sasha’s basketball team. On Sundays, we’d get the team together to practice, and a couple of times, I’d help coach the games. It was a lot of fun–even if Sasha rolled her eyes when her dad voiced his displeasure with the refs.
But I was so proud watching her run up and down the court, seeing her learn and improve and gain confidence. And I was hopeful that in the years to come, she’d look back on experiences like these as the ones that helped define her as a person–and as a parent herself.