Obama reflects on life without a father

President Obama, who is known for ending his work day at 6:30 pm so he can have dinner with his wife and children, on Saturday reflected on why he makes his family such a priority despite criticism.

Obama opened up about his personal life in his weekly address, which usually focuses on his political and policy agenda.

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"I know how important it is to have a dad in your life, because I grew up without my father around. I felt the weight of his absence. So for Michelle and our girls, I try every day to be the husband and father my family didn’t have when I was young," he said in reference to his wife and daughters Sasha and Malia.

Obama, who only met his father once, was raised by his mother and his maternal grandparents. He has often spoken about the importance of fathers playing an active role in their children's lives and warned of the damage caused by paternal absence.

In his address on Father's Day weekend a year ago, he remarked, "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...."

Father's Day is on Sunday.

Obama spoke about his My Brother's Keeper initiate, which he launched in February of this year to create more opportunity for young males of minority races.

He urged listeners to volunteer as mentors to boys growing up without male role models.

"Taking responsibility for being a great parent or mentor is a choice that we, as individuals, have to make.  No government program can ever take the place of a parent’s love.  Still, as a country, there are ways we can help support dads and moms who make that choice," he said.

He invited middle-class fathers from across the nation to the White House this past week and announced his plan to convene "the first-ever" White House Working Families Summit in a few weeks.

That’s why, earlier this week, we brought working dads from across America to the White House to talk about the challenges they face. And in a few weeks, I’ll hold the first-ever White House Working Families Summit. 

He called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is designed to narrow the pay gap between sexes, and raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Both proposals failed in the Senate earlier this year.

Women are estimated to make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers but Obama said both measures would help fathers by easing their financial burden.

"Women deserve equal pay for equal work – and at a time when more women are breadwinners for a family, that benefits men, too," he said.

He urged sons and daughters across the nation to show their fathers how much they appreciate them.

"If you haven’t got Dad a gift yet, there’s still time.  Just barely. But the truth is, what we give our fathers can never match what our fathers give us," he said.