Beliefnet
Inspiration Report

As a father of two young girls, President Obama understands the importance of being a good leader and role model for his daughters.

To support and encourage other fathers to be good role models, the President launched a new phase of his ‘Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative,’ which he announced during a speech on Father’s Day.  According to an official press release sent by the White House, the Initiative will be “responsible fatherhood and…build healthy families and communities” across America.  Last year, he created a national dialogue to ask fathers and families of all backgrounds to share the challenges they faced.  

This year, the President wants to continue the dialogue through his Initiative by reaching out to various communities and continuing to host national forums with leaders in fatherhood; providing community trainings to help men develop as responsible fathers; and giving job funding to fathers facing employment challenges and who don’t have custody of their children. The President is also proposing a Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation Fund “that will scale up effective fatherhood and family-strengthening programs across the country.”

In the speech President Obama gave on Father’s Day, he shared his vision for the ‘Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative’. Read condensed portions of his speech below:

Fathers are our first teachers and coaches — or in my house, assistant teachers and assistant coaches — to mom. But they’re our mentors, our role models. They show us by the example they set the kind of people they want us to become.

The fact is, it’s easy to become a father, technically — any guy can do that. It’s hard to live up to the lifelong responsibilities that come with fatherhood. And it’s a challenge even in good times, when our families are doing well. It’s especially difficult when times are tough, families are straining just to keep everything together.

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.

And that’s why today we’re launching the next phase of our work to promote responsible fatherhood — a new, nationwide Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. This is a call to action with cities and states, with individuals and organizations across the country — from the NFL Players Association to the National PTA, to everyday moms and dads — we’re raising awareness about responsible fatherhood and working to re-engage absent fathers with their families.

As part of this effort, we’ve proposed a new and expanded Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation Fund. And we plan to seek out and support the very best, most successful initiatives in our states and communities — those that are offering services like job training, or parenting skills classes, domestic violence prevention — all which help provide the kind of network of support for men, particularly those in vulnerable communities.

We’re also going to help dads who get caught up — we want to make sure that they’re caught up on child support payments and that we re-engage them in their children’s lives. We’re going to support efforts to build healthy relationships between parents as well — because we know that children benefit not just from loving mothers and loving fathers, but from strong and loving marriages as well.

We’re also launching a new transitional jobs initiative for ex-offenders and low-income, non-custodial fathers — because these are men who often face serious barriers to finding work and keeping work. We’ll help them develop the skills and experience they need to move into full-time, long-term employment, so they can meet their child support obligations and help provide for their families.

No matter what doubts we may feel, what difficulties we may face, we all have to remember being a father — it’s not just an obligation and a responsibility; it is a privilege and a blessing, one that we all have to embrace as individuals and as a nation.

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