What our country needs is more good fathers

disagree strongly with
President Obama on just about
any issue or policy position
you can name.
But I’m not the least bit
uncomfortable saying I admire
something about the president
that transcends politics and
makes him a role model for
every man in America.
President Obama is a good
father.
That’s no small thing in
2013 America. And not too
long ago in Dallas I told the
president exactly that.
The event was a small “meetand-
greet” coffee for first family
members held before the dedication
of the George W. Bush
Presidential Library and
Museum.
My wife, daughter and I represented
the Reagan family at
the private event, which
included the Johnson daughters,
Trish Nixon, Susan Ford,
along with presidents Obama,
Bush 41 and 43, Jimmy Carter
and Bill Clinton.
“I disagree with your policies,”
I said, after saying hello
and shaking the president’s
hand. “But I applaud you for
being a good father and a good
husband. The world needs
more of those.”
President Obama, a father of
two daughters who says he still
goes on “dates” with his wife,
said he appreciated my praise.
I don’t know if the first
father is as familiar as I am
with the statistics of fatherlessness,
but America needs all
the good dads it can get.
Fathers are the super glue
that keeps families strong and
healthy in many important
ways. But according to childcare
experts and the U.S.
Census, about 24 million kids
in our country go to bed each
night without a father in the
house.
You don’t have to be a social
scientist from Princeton to
know that the absence of a
father can do serious damage
to a child and, ultimately, society.
But the numbers are grim
— and they cut across race
and class.
Over the years various studies
have found that kids in
fatherless homes are more likely
to be poor and more at risk
for drug abuse and suicide,
plus more likely to get in trouble
with the law.
Fatherless kids are also
more likely to be sick or have
mental health problems than
kids growing up in two-parent
households, and less likely to
do well in school, graduate
from high school and attend
college.
Some of the hard numbers
from those studies are not
pretty: 70 percent of juveniles
held in detention facilities
come from fatherless homes.
So do about 63 percent of teen
suicides and 71 percent of high
school dropouts.
Boys who grow up in homes
without fathers do much worse
in school and are twice as likely
to end up in jail as those
who come from traditional twoparent
families — no matter
what their race, family incomes
or parents’ educations are.
Father’s Day is today. Good
fathers like President Obama
will get the props and the love
they deserve from their families
and the rest of society.
But Father’s Day is also a
good time to think about how
you can become a better father
to your children and a better
husband to your wife.
And if you don’t have kids of
your own, you can celebrate
Father’s Day in another important
way.
America has more than
400,000 of its children in foster
care. Many of those kids
are eligible for adoption and
need a good father. You can
celebrate Sunday by deciding
to adopt one of those fostercare
kids — and become someone’s
father on Father’s Day. A
good place to start is the website
of Childhelp.org, a key
source for information on foster
care and child-abuse prevention.
Happy Father’s Day!
Michael Reagan is the son of
President Ronald Reagan, a
political consultant and president
of The Reagan Legacy
Foundation. Visit his websites
at www.reagan.com and
www.michaelereagan.com.