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No baby mama for Obama

Posted by Fatherhood Admin

I was delighted to see this article in the September 22 USA Today about a new book on the marriage of Barack and Michelle Obama. Christopher Andersen, a former editor of People Magazine, who called his book “Barack and Michelle Obama—Portrait of an American Marriage,” interviewed more than 200 people to get the details.

Although I have yet to read the book, on the surface, this is really good stuff. Frankly, I have often been frustrated, especially with stories about the President that encourage young people, in particular African American boys, to emulate Obama’s modeling as a black man, and even as a black father, but are strangely silent on the need to follow his example as a black husband.

Interestingly, the President and I share a lot in common—we are both African American men raised by single mothers, who attended Ivy League schools and who married accomplished women who graduated from Princeton in 1985. Accordingly, I think that I am on pretty sound footing when I state that, like me, the reason that Obama has been able to break his legacy of father absence is not because of his professional and political success, but rather because he is married to Michelle. No baby mama for Obama. You see, good fathering, like real estate, is about location, location, location and the fact that Michelle is in the house—White House or otherwise—is key to Barack being the kind of father that he never had.

That said, I do have one “bone to pick” with Andersen’s characterization of the Obama’s relationship. He states, “They’re devoted to each other. It’s unique…” Actually, it’s not unique…it’s marriage. And lots of couples in the black community are doing the same thing. The problem is that the press spends more time covering black rappers than black weddings and often fails to highlight the benefits of black marriage—and marriage in general. No doubt this neglect has been instrumental in facilitating a pernicious self-fulfilling prophesy that has yielded 2 out of 3 black children living in father absent homes.

Finally, I sincerely hope that in his book Andersen spent as much time chronicling the benefits that Michelle has received from being married to Barack. This article, like most that I have seen, focuses on the benefits that Barack has received. (e.g. “She is the reason he is where he is,” the author says.) I have been happily married for 27 years and I know first hand that a good marriage is about giving and receiving. Over the years, I’ve had women friends who weren’t big on marriage or who had children with guys who clearly weren’t marriage material say, “I can do bad all by myself.” Accordingly, I think that it’s essential that women hear from the First Lady that “you can do pretty darn well with him too.” No doubt, this is the way she feels. Just look at the portrait on Andersen’s book cover.

Topics: father involvement, legacy, media, marriage

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