It's a great time to be a dad.
I don't say that because this Sunday was Father's Day, though I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been looking forward to it. Being a dad is so important today because it's an opportunity to empower the next generation of men and women to conquer whatever challenges may face them. It's an opportunity to help shape their future.
When fathers aren’t a part of their lives, kids are more likely to get involved in harmful and destructive activities like drug use and crime. On the other hand, giving children the paternal support they need helps them grow into confident, capable and healthy men and women.
All children deserve solid father figures in their lives, but far too many don't have them. President Obama, whose own father was absent for much of his childhood, understands that. That's why he created the Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative to celebrate fatherhood and create meaningful opportunities for fathers and children – and adult mentors and young mentees – to connect.
Children aren't the only ones who reap the benefits of these relationships; fatherhood is one of the most inspiring things in life. Watching my daughters grow into responsible, driven and happy women has been an indescribable joy.
It has also been great to share my passion for the environment with them. From their earliest days, we enjoyed the "great outdoors" whenever we had a chance – and we still do. But I also showed them the importance of protecting the natural resources that surround us by doing things like recycling and cutting back on energy use. These are things that are still a part of their lives today.
June is America's Great Outdoors Month, and finding creative ways to enjoy the open, outdoor spaces and keep them healthy and vibrant can be a great opportunity to bond with your son, daughter or mentee – and improve your community at the same time. Check out the outdoor activities aimed at protecting the environment on EPA’s website for some ideas. We would love to hear about some of your outdoor dad experiences this summer, so please share your stories by tweeting @fatherhood, @EPAgov or using #outdoordad.
However you choose to spend your time, I encourage you to continue making fatherhood or mentoring a priority in your life. Take the President’s Fatherhood Pledge,and do your part to help shape the next generation of happy, healthy Americans.
Happy Father's Day to all!
Bob Perciasepe is Deputy Administrator at the US Environmental Protection Agency.