One of the most delightful books is one written by Laura Numeroff, entitled, What Mommies Do Best. Perhaps one of the best things about the book is that a small child can simply turn the book over, upside down and inside out and get the same book with the word ‘Daddies” where the word “mommies” used to be. It is definitely a metaphor for modern parenting. Today, moms and dads are often intertwined in the process of raising their children and it is no longer seen only as something ONLY moms can do. So who makes the best parent? Mom or dad?
According to United States Court records, moms are the best. The 2007 statistics show that in 3 out of every 4 custody battles, custody awards were handed over to mothers. Even in cases where mother showed some sign of dysfunctional behaviors, many of the wardens of court see still mothers and children as something that belong together. For these dads on the losing side, desperately wanting either shared or sole custody of their children – the message is clear. In order to parent well, you must be a female. However, this author tends to disagree with that message. Arguably, so, others would have to agree.
Moms are good for a lot of things. They are often more nurturing and have a gentler more innate way of handling a child, especially a baby. Mothers also tend to be fixer uppers, always there with a needle and thread to repair a teddy bear’s arms no matter what time of day it falls off. They are the finder of socks, the ones who can always get the stains out, and definitely the go to person when a heart is broken or a friend disappoints. Yet in today’s world, mothers are often just as busy as dads, handling careers and juggling responsibilities. There are millions of single mothers today who are handling the pressures of raising children and providing for them solely. The media seems to capitalize on stories of deadbeat dads and bring to the limelight the lacks and irresponsible stories of dads who just don’t care or who just cannot take care of their children. Being fed this information constantly and consistently robs dad of the credit he is due. Sure, some dads suck for lack of better words. But then again, so do some moms.
Many people blame this phenomenon on the fact that men and women are such different creatures that think, plan and problem solve in often-opposite manners. However, considering that it takes two people to make a baby, it is pertinent to think that it also takes both methods of parenting, male and female, to raise a child. Single moms are screaming at this moment, but bear with me. It is responsible as a parent to give pause to the fact that two heads are better than one. While a mother might solve the problem in one way, a father will solve it another way. The common denominator is that the problem is solved and children learn doubly and benefit from the duality of learning how to do things. Saying one method is better than another is, is simply not fair.
Dads are perceived as the ones with strong shoulders, the breadwinners. They aren’t given much credit for the way the handle the pressures of raising a child nor for their domestic abilities. The stigma, no matter how out dated, seems to follow them. Find a househusband and all the neighborhood stay at home moms will adore him and wonder if his wife knows how lucky she is. They will also, secretly cast stones at her inability or non-desire to be the expected motherly being. At the same time, in the back of a woman’s mind, she will be wondering how she could respect a man who is the total package domestic diva. Women, no matter how liberated, like for men to be ‘men.’ And at the same time, they complain that when men are men, they are often lackadaisical parents. Seems like a lose-lose situation.
The question however is not what is right, fair, justified, or nice – it is about whom makes the better parent. The answer is an easy one. The best parent for a child is the one who is happiest. It is the one who puts their child’s best interests on the top of the priority list and is more interested in parenting their child than befriending them. The best parent is the one who shows up, emotionally, and physically, during times of need and for the simple sake that they love the child. The best parent is the one who makes the sandwich in the morning, no matter what kind of bread they use or how they spread the peanut butter. The best parent is also the one that gets on their hands and knees and prays, that their child will get good grades, break the fever, win the basketball game, or pull out of being a teenager without being scathed by drug abuse or unintended pregnancy. The best parent is the one who smiles, laughs, plays and takes the time to get to know their child for the individual they are and who loves unconditionally – regardless of what is going on their own life.
Who makes the best parent? Society says moms. Yet there are surely a bunch of dads who will beg to differ. Parenting isn’t a competition, nor is it something where adults should be petty and constantly keeping score so that they can show up in court one day and say, they are the best. Children need all of their parents, no matter if they are male or female and regardless of whether they share DNA or not. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, teachers, coaches, same sex couples, and ALL others…who genuinely love and responsibly care for their child’s needs and best interests, make by far the best parents of all.
The life lesson here is found in the simple sentences contained within Laura Numeroff’s book. What mommies and daddies do best is love. Differently, without a doubt. But better? It truly isn’t fair to judge.