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President Barack Obama might have quite a bit on his plate right now, you know, as the leader of an economically troubled nation in the midst of foreign and domestic crises, but he still has time for his family and daughters Sasha and Malia.

 

As his first Father’s Day in the White House approaches, Obama put a few of his feelings on being dad to words in an essay in this Sunday’s Parade magazine, including his emotions on growing up essentially fatherless.

 

An excerpt follows:

 

"I observe this Father’s Day not just as a father grateful to be present in my daughters’ lives but also as a son who grew up without a father in my own life.

In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence—both in my life and in the lives of others. I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill. We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference.

We need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one.

I know I have been an imperfect father. I know I have made mistakes. I have lost count of all the times, over the years, when the demands of work have taken me from the duties of fatherhood. There were many days out on the campaign trail when I felt like my family was a million miles away, and I knew I was missing moments of my daughters’ lives that I’d never get back. It is a loss I will never fully accept.

On this Father’s Day, I think about the pledge I made to Malia the day she was born: that I would give her what I never had—that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father."

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