Obama on Fatherhood: ‘My Hardest, But Always My Most Rewarding Job’

By MichaelJames

Jun 18, 2011 6:00am

ABC News’ Mary Bruce reports:

In his weekly address, President Obama reflected on fatherhood, calling it “my hardest, but always my most rewarding job.”

The president detailed how the absence of his own father has inspired him to be a better parent.

“I grew up without my father around," he said. "He left when I was two years old, and even though my sister and I were lucky enough to have a wonderful mother and caring grandparents to raise us, I felt his absence.  And I wonder what my life would have been like had he been a greater presence. That’s why I’ve tried so hard to be a good dad for my own children.”

Obama said what children need most from their parents are unconditional love, time and structure.

“Malia and Sasha may live in the White House these days," he said, "but Michelle and I still make sure they finish their schoolwork, do their chores and walk the dog.”

He said many fathers don’t have the time or resources to be as good as fathers as they would like to be, in part because of the state of the economy, and touted his administration’s efforts to offer “men who want to be good fathers a little extra support.”

“Our kids are pretty smart," he said. "They understand that life won’t always be perfect, that sometimes the road gets rough, that even great parents don’t get everything right. But more than anything, they just want us to be a part of their lives.”

The president shared that, despite his busy schedule, he has taken on a “second job” to spend more time with his daughter Sasha: assistant coach for her basketball team.

“It was a lot of fun – even if Sasha rolled her eyes when her dad voiced his displeasure with the refs,” he said. “I was so proud watching her run up and down the court, seeing her learn and improve and gain confidence.  And I was hopeful that in the years to come, she’d look back on experiences like these as the ones that helped define her as a person – and as a parent herself.

“In the end," he said, "that’s what being a parent is all about – those precious moments with our children that fill us with pride and excitement for their future; the chances we have to set an example or offer a piece of advice; the opportunities to just be there and show them that we love them.”

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