For all the attention paid to President Barack Obama's childhood — absentee father, mother with wanderlust, raised partly by grandparents — less is made of his family life as an adult. And that's too bad, because as an engaged dad who is keenly interested in his kids' schooling, Obama has a lot to say to the nation. There's been much said lately about the president's aloofness. He doesn't do dinner parties. But no one talks much about Obama's regular dinner partners — reportedly his wife and children. A lot of educators, psychologists and politicians across the spectrum would agree that regular family meals with interesting conversations are a great tool for raising smart and emotionally and physically healthy kids. Count me as one who wants Obama to speak out forcefully in his second term on behalf of good parenting and strong family bonds. A healthy population and educated workforce begin right there.
Barbara Shelly, Kansas City Star columnist