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How to be a better dad

With Father's Day behind us, I've been thinking a lot about the role dads play today. I marvel at how involved some dads are in their children's lives and how they rearrange their work schedules and make sacrifices

But I wonder, Is it better to have a dad that's only slightly involved in a child's life, one who pops in and out as he desires, or is it better to have a dad that's completely uninvolved and ask a mentor to step in and play the dad role?

In his Father's Day column Leonard Pitts writes: We have great scorn for the mother who refuses to be a mom. By contrast we impose little or no social sanction from the father who declines to be a dad.So when you see those profiles of the heroic single father, what you are really seeing is a seal of approval, a social attaboy, that some man made the right choice. Maybe, though, we should begin to wonder at the cultural mind-set which allows him that choice.

For a boy, having a dad pop in and out of their life on a whim, seems to tear down confidence. I think a father who plans to be half there for his child, would be more of a father if he finds a full time role model or mentor for his son -- someone to be there emotionally on a regular basis.

On Monday, President Barack Obama pledged a series of new initiatives to support responsible fatherhood. He urged fathers to mentor their own children and reach out to those in the community who don't have strong parental or guardian support. He told fathers to stop making excuses and take economic and emotional responsibility for their children. Obama says the most government can do is send a message on the need for active parenting.

Is a message enough? Are these fathers listening? Of course, the courts can require fathers pay child support. But what about emotional support?

Would fathers get more involved if they were penalized by government or  their employer for not giving their children ANY quality time and emotionally letting them down? Should they be forced to find a replacement mentor if they aren't up to the job?