Fathers are teachers, mentors, Obama says

June 19, 2009 at 6:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama talked about fatherhood and personal responsibility Friday before the nation honors its fathers, pops and dads.

Obama, who grew up in a fatherless home, and a group of famous and everyday dads and mentors visited youth-focused, non-profit organizations in Washington, before returning to the White House for a town hall on fatherhood. The afternoon culminated with a mentoring session/barbecue with the fathers and more than 120 young people from the District of Columbia area.

"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," Obama said during the town hall. "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."

Obama also issued a Father's Day proclamation honoring the work of strong, committed fathers. Father's day is Sunday.

He said the town hall was a kick-off for a series of national conversations about fatherhood and personal responsibility.

"If we want our children to succeed in life, we need fathers to step up," Obama said. "We need fathers to understand that their work doesn't end with conception -- that what truly makes a man a father is the ability to raise a child and invest in that child."

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