Change We Can Believe In, by Barack Obama: on Families & Children


Admit that too many fathers are missing from too many homes

Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.

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. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.

Source: Chicago church speech, in Change We Can Believe In, p.234-5 Jun 15, 2008

I know what it means to have an absent father

I know what it means to have an absent father, although my circumstances weren’t as tough as they are for many young people today. Even though my father left us when I was two years old, I was luckier than most. I screwed up more often than I should’ve, but I got plenty of second chances. A lot of kids don’t get these chances today. There is no margin for error in their lives.

Still, I know the toll that being a single parent took on my mother--how she struggled at times to the pay bills; to give us the things that other kids had; to play all the roles that both parents are supposed to play. And I know the toll it took on me. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle--that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls; that if I could give them anything, I would give them that rock--that foundation--on which to build their lives. And that would be the greatest gift I could offer.

Source: Chicago church speech, in Change We Can Believe In, p.236 Jun 15, 2008

Reward fathers who pay child support with larger EITC

We should be making it easier for fathers who make responsible choices and harder for those who avoid them. We should get rid of the financial penalties we impose on married couples right now, and start making sure that every dime of child support goes directly to helping children instead of some bureaucrat. We should reward fathers who pay that child support with job training and job opportunities and a larger Earned Income Tax Credit that can help them pay the bills. We should help new families care for their children by expanding maternity and paternity leave, and we should guarantee every worker more paid sick leave so they can stay home to take care of their child without losing their income.

We should take all of these steps to build a strong foundation for our children. But we should also know that even if we do; even if Washington does its part too, we will still face difficult challenges in our lives.

Source: Chicago church speech, in Change We Can Believe In, p.239 Jun 15, 2008

  • The above quotations are from Change We Can Believe In
    Barack Obama's Plan to Renew America

    Published Sept. 9, 2008.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Families & Children.
  • Click here for other issues (main summary page).
  • Click here for more quotes by Barack Obama on Families & Children.
Candidates and political leaders on Families & Children:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Pres.:Sen.Barack Obama
V.P.:Sen.Joe Biden
State:Hillary Clinton
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
Treas.:Tim Geithner
DoD:Robert Gates
A.G.:Eric Holder
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DoC:Bill Richardson
Outgoing Bush Administration:
Pres.:George Bush
V.P.:Dick Cheney
A.G.:John Ashcroft(2005)
DEA:Asa Hutchinson(2005)
USDA:Mike Johanns(2007)
EPA:Mike Leavitt
HUD:Mel Martinez(2003)
State:Colin Powell(2005)
State:Condoleezza Rice
HHS:Tommy Thompson(2005)
2008 Presidential contenders:
AIP: Frank McEnulty
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP VP: Gov.Sarah Palin
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Independent: Ralph Nader
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
NAIP: Amb.Alan Keyes
Socialist: Brian Moore
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