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JLeslie's avatar

What do you think about President Obama addressing the importance of a father for young men?

Asked by JLeslie (54594points) March 2nd, 2014

The focus is obviously on the black community, but of course it happens among other groups also.

Should a President be addressing this sort of thing? Could a white President do it? Do you think parts of the black community and other groups will be offended if they are single mothers? Do you think it will actually usher in a cultural change?

If Dan Quayle had said children statistically don’t do as well if raised by single moms would people be up in arms?

Obama has been careful to focus on the fathers and not the mothers, does that make all the difference?

Does Obama have an obligation to help the black community more than any other President?

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10 Answers

hearkat's avatar

Do you have a link that provides the entire statement within context so we might assess it objectively?

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s one of those meaningless “sky is blue” statements in the tool box of every nickle and dime politician this country has produced since the 2nd world war. I can’t think of a single President since I started paying attention who hasn’t brought up this topic at some point. It’s one of those rare issues on which there is all but universal agreement, and is routinely trotted out as an excuse for any and all actions involving benefits to the poor. Thus Gingrich, Clinton, Reagan etc. prefaced slashing benefits by extolling the sanctity of 2 parent families, while Johnson’s war on poverty reputedly had the 2 parent thing as a primary goal.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes, it’s appropriate to do so. It’s a real problem in all communities, not just the black communities.

If previous presidents had any moral courage, they would have addressed it too.

hearkat's avatar

When my son was a young teenager, he told me that it was hard for him to not have a father or strong male role model to turn to with questions. He said that even though he knew that he could come talk to me about anything, it was not the same as getting answers about the male experience from the male perspective.

As @stanleybmanly mentions, other political figures have indeed mentioned the issue, but then shot themselves in the foot by extolling the “virtues” of the two-parent family, and pissing-off those of us who were not single parents by choice. President Obama has the perspective of having come from a single-parent household and he isn’t just talking about the issue, he’s supporting programs on a regional and national level.

The problem is not whether both parents are in the home – I’m sure we all know people whose childhood would have been better if the parents hadn’t stayed together. The problem is that many fathers are not a presence in the child’s life, and there are too few other males who take steps to become involved and play some degree of a role in the life of boys they know – whether they are family or neighbors. My son was fortunate because our neighborhood and his friends did mostly have fathers and step-fathers in the household, and they would include him in some of their activities.

I agree with @elbanditoroso that it is a problem across all factions of American society, and is not just a minority issue. According to the article – thanks for the link, @JLeslie – this “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative is focused on African-American and Hispanic communities; but there are plenty of misguided young American boys from other ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I “get” the point that would be made that white boys “see” more strong male figures in American culture and media, but especially with the election of Mr. Obama, that has changed. I think this program falls short and that it should include fatherless boys from any background.

creative1's avatar

The difference between Dan Quayle and Obama in this instance is Obama was raised by a single parent and he knows what it is like to be raised without his father directly in his life. I think its coming more from the man’s background.

I am a single parent by choice since I adopted my children myself and feel bad that I don’t have a father figure in my home for my daughters. I would like them to have what I had growing up. I know what it was like to be raised with a father and what it was like after he died and think his presence certainly did add alot of male perspective.

zenvelo's avatar

Presidents have a “bully pulpit” and have a leadership obligation to speak out when appropriate. The African American community has long recognized that a higher rate of absentee fathers is a concern to raise the community out of poverty, and Obama is uniquely positioned to speak out.

it is not at all unusual for Presidents to take action that would be criticized if expressed by others. McGovern could never have reached out to China, but Nixon, with a history of red baiting, could say it’s time for diplomacy.

bolwerk's avatar

Maybe it’s not aimed at the black community. Black fathers perhaps are more involved in their children’s lives than white fathers. And if the pig state didn’t throw so many black men into prison for trivial reasons, that rate would probably be higher.

mazingerz88's avatar

He did the right thing. I’m more concerned if it actually made a difference.

Paradox25's avatar

Being raised by a single mother myself in a situation where my biological dad was a non factor in my life by choice, and being around kids who did have fathers involved in their lives made my childhood quite difficult for me.

I’m of the opinion that a positive male role model is a plus in any kid’s life, but especially a boy’s. A guy can teach a boy to do things that women usually can’t, and can give them advice from a more realistic perspective since they had faced the same issues as a male child themselves.

I don’t believe that all male role models are good, and I’ve seen many dads destroy their boys and make them more violent by instilling negative hypermasculine traits in them. One of my sister’s best friends is in this situation currently, where the father has turned a once decent boy into a psychopathic jerk once he won custody of him. Sometimes the kid is better off with a single mom when the male in question is a negative role model. I still think it’s better though when a kid has a positive male and female influence in their lives.

I think black fathers do get an unfair bad rap many times, and many do want to be involved in their child’s life. This is why I’m not a fan of sexual promiscuity personally, since I think this creates more problems then it solves, and most people that I’ve known don’t even do it responsibly. I’ve found it to be so sad when many girls I had known within the past 20 years don’t even know who the father of their kid is.

The problem is a two way street, and I’m not just blaming the women here. As much as people argue with me here on some of these issues, I’m yet to see anything positive result from the lifestyles I tend to criticize. I guess I’m conservative on this issue, but not for religious reasons, but from my personal experiences.

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