- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 12, 2005

Anything you can do, I can do better

I can do anything better than you …

I can jump a hurdle.

I can wear a girdle.

I can knit a sweater.

I can fill it better.

I can do most anything.

Can you bake a pie?


Neither can I.

Like Annie Oakley and Rhett Butler in Irving Berlin’s delightful “Annie Get Your Gun,” neither of my parents were pie-bakers, though my dad was a good cook, and my mom became a very good one, even as she worked full-time outside the home. So, were my parents interchangeable? Is parenting, like pie-baking, a gender-neutral task?

Homosexual activists and their supporters claim it matters little whether children are raised by two “mommies,” two “daddies,” or a mommy and a daddy, so long as the “family” — in whatever form — is bound by a stable, loving relationship.

Undoubtedly, a stable household is a positive factor in child development, but can a mommy really be a daddy? Children know the answer. When I was single, I dated a divorcee who introduced me to her 5-year-old son. I didn’t know much about talking to a 5-year-old, and after a few perfunctory questions, returned to talking to my date while she prepared something in the kitchen. But the little boy continued to hover, and a couple minutes later, I was slightly startled when my date’s son gently grabbed my arm, but didn’t say anything.When the baby-sitter arrived and detached the little boy from me, I whispered to my date “Is he OK?” She turned from saying goodbye to her son and the sitter and, with eyes visibly moist, quietly said “He misses a father.” Not “his” father, whom he really didn’t know, but “a” father. Being raised by a loving mother — and in this case, a loving aunt and grandmother as well — was certainly beneficial, but the little boy couldn’t help but crave a male father figure.

I also remember, some years later, a single-mother co-worker expressing amazement that her daughter, with whom she argued frequently, got along so well with the girl’s grandfather, a very stern, but goodhearted active-duty military man. Indeed, of the many single mothers I’ve known, I can’t think of one who wouldn’t prefer to have raised or be raising her children with a good, loving father.

Homosexual activists point to statistics and studies regarding the benefits youngsters purportedly derive from “nontraditional” families, but seem to forget the numbers represent real children who innately feel a loss when a father isn’t around to do the special daddy things.

What are “daddy things”? Obviously, this depends upon the daddy and the child, but common to all daddy things is that they uniquely strengthen crucial paternal bonds between father and child, and, from the child’s view, they’re effective only when the male father figure does them. Often, they’re simple gestures: Dad’s arm silently draped around his son’s shoulder after a sports contest, communicating, as only a father can, that he understands — the challenge, the effort, the joy of winning, the pain of losing.

Many daddy things become cherished memories: The father telling his daughter how beautiful she is before her first Communion, and years later, before her first date, both of them knowing he’s remarking on her inner beauty as well. Or the father quietly advising his son before the senior prom to enjoy but be a gentleman. Or the first time a father and son laugh in unison at a stand-up comic’s manic routine. Or the entire family laughing at dad laughing at his own corny jokes.

Daddy things are often physically oriented: chopping wood, or teaching the kids to drive a manual transmission, or shooting hoops on the driveway — the list is endless. And it matters not that some women can do some of the things on the list, because every child who grew up in a stable household with a mother and father can tell you something important in their lives that derives its meaning from being done by their dad.

Throughout the history of mankind and across myriad cultures and diverse societies, children have been hard-wired to crave the unique love and attention of both a father and a mother.

“Anything you can do, I can do better” may display suitable bravado for a Wild West sharpshooting show, but as justification for overthrowing millennia-old parent-gender norms, it’s profoundly disruptive. When a court decides the benefits of marriage — including adopting and raising children — should be bestowed on any two adults regardless of sex, it not only ignores human nature, it deprives children — some of the most legally helpless members of society — of a basic need it should be reinforcing.


Mr. Lewis writes on current events from Oak Hill, Va.

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