Belated Father’s Day Reflections

I apologize that posting has been slow stagnant over the last couple of days. Last week, quite accidentally, I found myself employed. If that development did not actually cut down on my blog access, it certainly gave me an excuse to keep away.

Anyway: Obama’s Father’s Day speech. Here is the complete video and transcript. I’d have embedded the YouTube, but that never works for me.

Though Obama’s rhetoric is usually praised for charisma, flourish, and themes of unity and transcendence–all impressive, but never persuasive to me. (What does “change we can believe in” even mean?)

But in some of the Illinois senator’s speeches, I am impressed by the risks he takes by honestly addressing meaningful issues; the last thing I expected from a politician on Father’s Day was a lecture on AWOL parents:

But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing – missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled – doubled – since we were children…

We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child – it’s the courage to raise one…

We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong. It’s what keeps the foundation of our country strong.

 Granted, he of course lapsed into audience flattery and hope-mongering, but the substance of the address’ body makes up for it.

I know many of us will take issue with Obama’s implied necessity of a “male figure” in child rearing. But the essence of his message–that childrearing is a collaborative process, wherein both parents have specific obligations–will find few detractors.

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