With the Fathers' Day holiday approaching in the United States, President Barack Obama is honoring the nation's fathers. The so-called First Dad is calling on many American men to work harder at fatherhood.
Sunday is Fathers' Day in the United States, and President Obama is using the occasion to encourage men across the country to take their parental responsibilities more seriously.
Mr. Obama said Friday 23 percent of America's young people are without fathers, and that number rises above 50 percent among African-Americans. He called on men to rise up where their own fathers may fall short. "Children who grow up without fathers are more likely to drop out of school and wind up in prison. They are more likely to have substance abuse problems, run away from home and become teenage parents themselves. And I say this as someone who grew up without a father in my own life," he said.
Mr. Obama's father returned to his native Kenya when the future president was a small child living in Hawaii. He was raised by his mother and her parents, and credits them with being a good influence on him.
At a White House meeting on fatherhood Friday, the president urged dads to step up and be more closely involved in their children's lives. "We need fathers to understand that their work does not end with conception-that what truly makes a man a father is the ability to raise a child and invest in that child," he said.
Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle have two daughters, ten-year-old Malia and seven-year-old Sasha. And he admits that like other fathers, his work has often taken him away from his family. "There have been days when the demands of work have taken me from my duties as a father and I have missed some moments in my daughters' lives that I will never get back. So I have been far from perfect. But in the end, it is not about being perfect. It is not always about succeeding, but it is about always trying," he said.
Despite the hard work of parenthood, the president says the joys of being a father are immeasurable. "There is nothing that you would not do for them, in a heartbeat. And that bond between a parent and a child is something that is precious. It is sacred. And it is a true blessing," he said.
The president issued a proclamation for Fathers' Day, encouraging community involvement to help men to be better fathers.