If the new Focus on the Family CEO loved Obama’s family values a few days ago, how much more will he love him now that he’s pushing so strongly for responsible fathers?

“When fathers are absent, when they abandon their responsibility to their children, we know the damage that does to our families,” Mr. Obama told teenagers and community leaders in the East Room of the White House, beginning what he called a “national conversation on responsible fatherhood and healthy families.”

Mr. Obama sprinkled his talk with references to his own absent father, who left him with his mother in Hawaii when he was 2 and visited him only once after that.

“I say this as someone who grew up without a father in my life,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s something that leaves a hole in a child’s heart that governments can’t fill.”

He said children raised without fathers were more likely to drop out of school and abuse drugs. But aware of his own example, he told his audience — a diverse group that included Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC and the skateboarder Tony Hawk — that growing up fatherless did not mean a person could not succeed.

That Mr. Obama was giving such attention to the issue at a time of crisis in Iran and high-stakes debate on health care and financial overhauls shows how personally he takes fatherhood, White House officials said.

The role of fathers, absent and otherwise, is I think one of the greap lacunae in the never-ending rhetoric over abortion in particular. It’s all about the woman, as if human pregnancy is a matter of parthenogenesis.

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