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The White House

President Obama Launches National Conversation On Importance of Fatherhood and Personal Responsibility

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                         June 19, 2009
President Obama Launches National Conversation On Importance of Fatherhood and Personal Responsibility
President stresses responsible fathers are vital to healthy families and strong communities
WASHINGTON – Today, President Obama kicked off a national conversation on fatherhood and personal responsibility with events across the Washington area and activities at the White House. Well-known fathers and everyday dads from across the country joined the President to discuss what fathers are doing to strengthen themselves, their families and their communities.
This conversation on fatherhood and personal responsibility comes during the 100th anniversary of the day dedicated to dads, and President Obama is using the occasion to stress the importance of fathers in supporting families and sustaining communities throughout the nation.
On this day, President Obama and a group of very special fathers and mentors visited non-profit organizations throughout the Washington DC area dedicated to mentoring and supporting young men. The group then returned to The White House for a town hall meeting on fatherhood featuring five outstanding fathers and their incredible life stories. The afternoon culminated with a mentoring session with the visiting fathers and more than 120 young people from the DC area.
As someone who grew up in a home without his father, President Obama has served as a strong voice on the issue of fatherhood and personal responsibility. The issue of absent fathers is one that continues to challenge the country. This occasion highlights fathers from all walks of life who have faced challenges and overcome obstacles large and small to do what is right for their families.
"We all know the difference that responsible, committed fathers like these guys can make in the life of a child. Fathers are our first teachers and coaches. They’re our mentors and role models. They set examples of success and push us to succeed ourselves – encouraging us when we’re struggling; loving us even when we disappoint them; standing by us when no one else will," President Obama said during the town hall meeting.
"And when fathers are absent – when they abandon their responsibility to their kids – we know the damage that does to our families. Children who grow up without a father are more likely to drop out of school and wind up in prison. They’re more likely to have substance abuse problems, run away from home, and become teenage parents themselves."
President Obama also issued a Father’s Day proclamation honoring the work of strong, committed fathers and also taped a public service announcement for the Ad Council.
The White House is preparing to continue these conversations with a series of regional town hall forums throughout the summer and fall on the importance of fatherhood in communities across the nation. The goal of this effort is to find and emphasize what works: what dads, organizations and communities across the country are doing to address these challenges, and how we can work together to strengthen their efforts.