Barack Obama: 'I Have Been an Imperfect Father'

Barack Obama: 'I Have Been an Imperfect Father'
From left: Malia, Barack and Sasha Obama

06/19/2009 AT 06:05 AM EDT

President Barack Obama has written a heartfelt Father's Day message acknowledging his own shortcomings as a dad to daughters Malia, 10, Sasha, 8.

"I know I have been an imperfect father. I know I have made mistakes," Obama admits in a letter to be published in this week's Parade magazine.

"There were many days out on the campaign trail when I felt like my family was a million miles away," he writes, "and I knew I was missing moments of my daughters' lives that I'd never get back. It is a loss I will never fully accept."

Urging other fathers to become engaged in their children's lives, Obama says, "We need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one."

Reflecting on his own father's absence from his life (Obama's childhood was divided between living with his mother and and his grandparents), the president reflects on becoming a father to his elder daughter.

"I think back to the day I drove Michelle and a newborn Malia home from the hospital nearly 11 years ago," he writes. "I think about the pledge I made to her that day: that I would give her what I never had – that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father."

It was only in January that Obama penned a letter to his daughters in anticipation of his inauguration, in which he credited them as the reason why he ran for the White House.


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