Barack obama on fatherhood
Barack Obama believes passionately in responsible fatherhood and has been outspoken about the need for African-American fathers to step up to their responsibilities as fathers. He spoke pointedly on this topic on Father's Day 2008 to Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. The comments in this speech represent his long-standing encouragement of responsible fatherhood.
"Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.
"But if we are honest with ourselves, we'll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing -- missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.
"You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled -- doubled -- since we were children. We know the statistics -- that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it. ..."We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child -- it's the courage to raise one....
"When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me -- how do I make my way in the world, and how do I become successful and how do I get the things that I want.
"But now, my life revolves around my two little girls. And what I think about is what kind of world I'm leaving them... Are they living in a country that is still divided by race? A country where, because they're girls, they don't have as much opportunity as boys do? ..."
"And what I've realized is that life doesn't count for much unless you're willing to do your small part to leave our children -- all of our children -- a better world. Even if it's difficult. Even if the work seems great. Even if we don't get very far in our lifetime."
Now, I can’t legislate fatherhood — I can’t force anybody to love a child. But what we can do is send a clear message to our fathers that there is no excuse for failing to meet their obligations. What we can do is make it easier for fathers who make responsible choices and harder for those who avoid those choices. What we can do is come together and support fathers who are willing to step up and be good partners and parents and providers."