The Year of the Good Father

Barack Obama Shows Us How to Be Good Parents

First Dad: President Obama’s leadership style could apply to parenting.
Getty Images
First Dad: President Obama’s leadership style could apply to parenting.

By Eric Elkins

Published January 01, 2013, issue of January 04, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

The Obama model made the most sense to me, and his victory in the general election sent a clear message to men: Be strong. But be sensitive, too.

Obama has had ample opportunities in the last year to demonstrate that confluence of strength and sensitivity. Whether it was showing both resolve and sadness in the loss of Americans during the Benghazi debacle, learning from his mistakes after the first debate, standing arm-in-arm with Chris Christie after Hurricane Sandy or shedding a very public tear in the wake of the Newtown school massacre, Obama has been both resolute and compassionate.

Obama’s balanced masculinity is finding its way into pop culture as well. In the past, movie dads were portrayed as hapless and incompetent. But 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the good father. If Judd Apatow’s vision can evolve from the clueless new father Seth Rogen in “Knocked Up” to the nuanced struggles of Paul Rudd in “This Is 40,” then I’m optimistic.

On the small screen, TV dads are flawed, to be sure. But you never doubt they love their children and will sacrifice everything for their well-being (RIP, Eddard Stark of “Game of Thrones”). They may be gruff and goofy (the dads in “Modern Family”), or depressed and struggling (“Louie”), but they are also loving in their own way, building up their kids’ sense of self and letting them fail when they need to, but being right there to help them back up again every single time.

It’s almost as though today’s television writers have been reading Foster Cline and Jim Fay’s “Love and Logic” parenting books, which advise parents to let their kids fail when the stakes are low, and then give them the warmth and empathy they need to bounce back so that they’re better equipped to face the challenges of adulthood.

In 2012, you couldn’t open up an issue of The Atlantic without finding articles about the lack of quality men and the rise of women in U.S. society. Though many readers responded to these articles angrily, I saw them as a call to action.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.