President Obama must do more to encourage responsible fatherhood


It lasted no more than fifteen seconds in a speech that ran just over an hour, but it was a moment social conservatives will not soon forget. If you watched Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, chances are you heard President Obama say this:

We’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples and do more to encourage fatherhood – because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one.

Stronger families. Stronger communities. A stronger America. It is this kind of prosperity – broad, shared, and built on a thriving middle class – that has always been the source of our progress at home.

Insofar as the president deserves praise, not only for what he said on Tuesday night but for what he has said about fatherhood over the past several years, it’s interesting to hear him speak candidly about strong families on the national stage. Quite simply because the Democratic Party’s leftward lurch on gay marriage and birth control in recent years necessarily results in fatherless households and abortion.

Indeed, while President Obama has been more than willing to express his support for responsible fatherhood, he has done more to undermine the institution of marriage than any other chief executive.

This is all rather confusing because in 2009 the president established a task force whose goal was to encourage stronger families and safer communities. He has also given a number of heart-stirring speeches regarding his own experience as a father, including this one, which kicked off the president’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative in June 2010.

As study after study shows, America’s greatest weapon against childhood poverty is a married mother and father. I think the president knows this, but he’s too politically cautious to turn it into a national issue. I pray he changes his mind, and his policies, over the next four years. Because as important as it is for the president to talk about being a responsible father, words alone won’t reduce the number of absentee dads and fatherless children by any significant amount. President Obama must do more to encourage responsible fatherhood.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Stephen Kokx is a freelance writer and adjunct professor of political science living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Peace and Justice. His writing on religion, politics and Catholic social teaching has appeared in a number of outlets, including Crisis Magazine, The American Thinker and his hometown paper The Grand Rapids Press. He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and is a graduate of Aquinas College and Loyola University Chicago. Follow Stephen on twitter @StephenKokx

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