I know how important it is to have a dad in your life, because I grew up without my father around. I felt the weight of his absence. So for Michelle and our girls, I try every day to be the husband and father my family didn’t have when I was young. And every chance I get, I encourage fathers to get more involved in their children’s lives, because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to have a child – it’s the courage to raise one.
Still, over the past couple years, I’ve met with a lot of young people who don’t have a father figure around. And while there’s nothing that can replace a parent, any of us can do our part to be a mentor, a sounding board, a role model for a kid who needs one. Earlier this year, I launched an initiative called My Brother’s Keeper – an all-hands-on-deck effort to help more of our young men reach their full potential. And if you want to be a mentor to a young man in your community, you can find out how at WhiteHouse.gov/MyBrothersKeeper.
Now, when I launched this initiative, I said that government can’t play the primary role in a young person’s life. Taking responsibility for being a great parent or mentor is a choice that we, as individuals, have to make. No government program can ever take the place of a parent’s love. Still, as a country, there are ways we can help support dads and moms who make that choice.
That’s why, earlier this week, we brought working dads from across America to the White House to talk about the challenges they face. And in a few weeks, I’ll hold the first-ever White House Working Families Summit. We’ve still got too many workplace policies that belong in the 1950s, and it’s time to bring them up to date for today’s families, where oftentimes, both parents are working. Moms and dads deserve affordable child care, and time off to care for a sick parent or child without running into hardship. Women deserve equal pay for equal work – and at a time when more women are breadwinners for a family, that benefits men, too. And because no parent who works full-time should have to raise a family in poverty, it’s time for Congress to follow the lead of state after state, get on the bandwagon, and give America a raise.
Dads work hard. So our country should do what we can to make sure their hard work pays off; to make sure life for them and their families is a little less stressful, and a little more secure, so they can be the dads their kids need them to be. Because there’s nothing more precious in life than the time we spend with our children. There’s no better feeling than knowing that we can be there for them, and provide for them, and help give them every shot at success.