President Obama paid tribute to male role models who “show up and give it their best” for Father’s Day.
Whether the male role model is a biological father, surrogate father, or mentor, these men are helping to shape children for good, said Obama.
“Every family is different, but what matters is the unconditional support, guidance, and love fathers and mentors give us throughout life,” said the president in his Father’s Day proclamation.
He highlighted that too many children grow up without a father figure in their lives, which can leave “a hole that can have lasting effects.”
“Their absence is also felt by mothers, who work overtime and double shifts, put food on the table, and care for children alone while trying to make ends meet,” said Obama. “And it is felt in our communities, when boys grow up without male leaders to inspire them.”
The reference to growing up without a father is a personal one, being that Obama’s father left the family when he was only 2 years old.
In his weekly radio address on Saturday, Obama said, “I felt his (father) absence. And I wonder what my life would have been like had he been a greater presence.”
Obama was raised by his single mother in Hawaii, who later moved the family to Indonesia where she remarried an Indonesian student. After a few years in Indonesia, Obama returned to Honolulu where he was raised by his maternal grandparents.
It is because of his personal experience that Obama has a strong interest in helping men be better fathers. Last year on Father’s Day, Obama announced the President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative, an effort to support groups that promote responsible fatherhood and help fathers to re-engage in their children's lives.
Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, who also grew up without a father, has commended Obama’s effort to emphasize the importance of being a good father.
“Every day, fathers across our country give everything they have to build a better future for their family, asking nothing in return but their children’s love and success,” said Obama in the proclamation. “On Father’s Day, we honor the men in our lives who have helped shape us for the good, and we recommit to supporting fatherhood in our families, in our communities, and across our Nation.”
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are parents to Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9.