"Today we're blessed to live in a world where technology allows us to connect instantly with just about anyone on the planet. But no matter how advanced we get, there will never be a substitute for the love and support and, most importantly, the presence of a parent in a child's life. And in many ways, that's uniquely true for fathers," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
"I never really knew my own father. I was raised by a single mom and two wonderful grandparents who made incredible sacrifices for me. And there are single parents all across the country who do a heroic job raising terrific kids. But I still wish I had a dad who was not only around, but involved; another role model to teach me what my mom did her best to instill -- values like hard work and integrity; responsibility and delayed gratification -- all the things that give a child the foundation to envision a brighter future for themselves.
"That's why I try every day to be for Michelle and my girls what my father was not for my mother and me. And I've met plenty of other people -- dads and uncles and men without a family connection -- who are trying to break the cycle and give more of our young people a strong male role model," the president said.
"Being a good parent -- whether you're gay or straight; a foster parent or a grandparent -- isn't easy. It demands your constant attention, frequent sacrifice, and a healthy dose of patience. And nobody's perfect. To this day, I'm still figuring out how to be a better husband to my wife and father to my kids.
"And I want to do what I can as president to encourage marriage and strong families. We should reform our child support laws to get more men working and engaged with their children. And my Administration will continue to work with the faith and other community organizations, as well as businesses, on a campaign to encourage strong parenting and fatherhood.
"Because if there's one thing I've learned along the way, it's that all our personal successes shine a little less brightly if we fail at family. That's what matters most. When I look back on my life, I won't be thinking about any particular legislation I passed or policy I promoted. I'll be thinking about Michelle, and the journey we've been on together. I'll be thinking about Sasha's dance recitals and Malia's tennis matches -- about the conversations we've had and the quiet moments we've shared. I'll be thinking about whether I did right by them, and whether they knew, every day, just how much they were loved.
"That's what I think being a father is all about. And if we can do our best to be a source of comfort and encouragement to our kids; if we can show them unconditional love and help them grow into the people they were meant to be; then we will have succeeded," Obama said.