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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 25, 1997




There are few experiences in life more challenging or more rewarding than being a parent. Holding their child for the first time, parents suddenly realize that they are totally responsible for this small person entrusted to their care. On Parents' Day, we pay tribute to these quiet heroes among us -- the mothers and fathers who make a lifetime commitment to their children.

Parents work hard to meet their children's need for food, shelter, clothing, and protection; but more important, they give their daughters and sons the deep and abiding love, guidance, attention, and encouragement that empowers them with the values and self-esteem to succeed in life. Parents love their children as they are, yet still help them to dream big dreams about who they can become.

The more we learn about our children, the more we realize the importance of good parenting. As we learned at the recent White House Conference on Early Childhood Development and Learning, the first few years of life are crucial to a child's emotional, social, and intellectual development. As their children's first and most influential teachers, parents play an immeasurably important role in helping their sons and daughters grow into happy and healthy adulthood.

The responsibilities of parenthood have become even more challenging in today's complex world. In many American families, both parents must work, struggling to balance the demands of job, home, and family. This balancing act is even harder for single parents, who must face the challenge of raising their children alone. In our mobile society, parents are often less able to rely on an extended family to help them provide the care and attention their children need. And today's mothers and fathers must protect their children from the ever-present threats of drugs, gangs, guns, violence, and unhealthy influences in the media and on the Internet.

Recognizing that good parents are the foundation of our society, my Administration has strived for the past 4 years to give parents the help they need to meet their responsibilities. I signed into law the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, and we are now proposing an expansion of that legislation to allow workers up to 24 hours of unpaid leave each year to meet family obligations. We are fighting to make our neighborhoods safer and drug-free and to reduce juvenile crime. We have expanded and improved Head Start to help parents prepare their young children to enter school ready to learn, and we have created an Early Head Start Program for children age 3 and under. We succeeded in requiring the installation of the V-chip and in helping to develop a voluntary ratings system on television so that parents can better protect their children from inappropriate material. And we are working with the computer industry to provide family-friendly controls that will give parents similar tools to use on the Internet.

As we observe Parents' Day this year, I urge all Americans to join me in paying tribute to the millions of mothers and fathers -- biological and adoptive, foster parents and stepparents -- whose boundless love and selfless efforts are building a better life for their children and for our nation. Let us repay that love and effort by striving, in our neighborhoods, schools, businesses, community and church organizations, and in government at every level, to help parents fulfill their awesome responsibilities and create a brighter future for America.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States and consistent with Public Law 103-362, do hereby proclaim Sunday, July 27, 1997, as Parents' Day. I invite the States, communities, and the people of the United States to join together in observing this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities to honor our Nation's parents.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.


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