President Obama plans to assume the role of father-figure-in-chief this weekend, with town halls, meetings, essays and a television appearance all dedicated to talking up responsible parenting around Father’s Day.
"We need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one," is the theme of the weekend and also line from his essay in Parade magazine.
Obama penned the essay for the Sunday edition of Parade as a part of a whirlwind weekend of preaching parental responsibility. As usual, Obama's narrative, including his lack of a father figure affected his life and about his own short comings as a parent, are a jumping off point for his message.
"In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence -- both in my life and in the lives of others," Obama, whose Kenyan father was largely absent during his formative years. writes.
"I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill," he writes. "We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference."
"There were many days out on the campaign trail when I felt like my family was a million miles away, and I knew I was missing moments of my daughters' lives that I'd never get back," he writes in the essay. "It is a loss I will never fully accept."
But even before the weekend officially begins, the president plans to start preaching fatherly responsibility with a visit to the nonprofit center Year Up, an organization that helps train young adults for professional careers.
After Year Up, the president will host a town hall at the White House with a focus on personal responsibility, where successful everyday dads will share their stories about raising their children in a turbulent world. After that he plans to meet with male students from local schools at the White House and talk to them about being role models.
If you’re counting, that’s three parenting events before father’s day weekend even starts, which seriously ups the ante on his landmark Father’s Day speech from last year during the campaign.
While most presidents have used the Father’s Day holiday to talk up family values and such, the Obama administration is going above and beyond in a calculated move.
“We think we can inspire more activity and engagement on these issues,” said Joshua DuBois, the director of the office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “Is everything going to change because of one day at the White House and a sustained commitment throughout the year? No. But the president thinks it's important to lead by example, and to do something about these matters.”
Besides multiple speaking engagements and a magazine peice, the president will also make use of the television to promote his message. Obama sits down with CBS News to talk about his duties as First Dad, a role that he says he’s had to work at. That segment will air on CBS News Sunday Morning at 9 am.
If that weren't enough, DC residents can gather together to hear all about it. The president recorded a video to be shown during Saturday's Rally for Responsible Fatherhood on the National Mall and on the web.
As chock-full of activity as the president's Father's Day weekend schedule is, one might wonder when he'll have time to sit down with his own daughters and open their gift, which we're betting is obligatory dad's day neckwear.