President Obama spoke openly about his father’s absence in his life growing up in his official weekly address to the nation.
“I never really knew my own father. I was raised by a single mom and two wonderful grandparents who made incredible sacrifices for me, and there are single parents all across the country who do a heroic job raising terrific kids, but I still wish I had a dad who was not only around, but involved, another role model to teach me what my mom did her best to instill—values like hard work and integrity, responsibility and delayed gratification—all the things that give a child the foundation to envision a brighter future for themselves.”
“That’s why I try to be, for Michelle and my girls, what my father was not for my mother and me,” he added.
Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr., divorced his mother Stanley Ann Dunham only a few years after the president’s birth and was largely absent from his life before he died in a drunk driving accident in 1982.
The president also spoke about the importance of those who step up to fill the father-figure role for children who are sometimes not their own.
“I’ve met plenty of other people—dads and uncles and men without a family connection—who are trying to break the cycle and give more of our young people a strong male role model,” he said. “Being a good parent—whether you’re gay or straight, a foster parent or a grandparent—isn’t easy. It demands your constant attention, frequent sacrifice, and a healthy dose of patience.”
Watch Obama’s weekly address below.