The XX Factor

When Father’s Day is Mother’s Day

When word broke that Barack Obama is pausing his busy schedule of revamping health care and heeding climate science and not intervening in the electoral process of a sovereign nation in order to spend three hours preaching “responsible fatherhood” -why, I nearly did a jig. The celebrity-stuffed event in the East Room sheds light on a little-reported obsession of the president whose own father abandoned him when he was barely 2 years old.

And, if the White House release is any evidence, this will be no From Gs to Gents tomfoolery ; rather, Obama will make a substantive policy speech and then take questions from regular Joes just trying to parent in an age of Twilight , sexting, and a global recession.

No doubt the address will hit on the troubling statistics for fatherless households and the need for dads to behave-but what I would really hope to see is acknowledgement of all the women in these households doing double duty, who also should get a special tip of the cap on Father’s Day.

Obama, who was of course raised by a single, working mother, hasn’t invited any women to the East Room chat, but seemed to get the importance of shouting-out in his speech in Chicago last Father’s Day:

We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child-it’s the courage to raise one. We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong. It’s what keeps the foundation of our country strong.

I was fortunate enough to be raised in a two-parent household (woo Dad); but it’s always worth remembering that there are women fathers, too! Is there an appropriate way to honor them this weekend?