I believe that children should be raised by a mom and a dad. Why? Maybe I can answer that question with a question. What would I be without them?
This may come as a shock, but I was once a baby. In fact, I came into this world weighing seven pounds, seven ounces, stark naked and as moldable as a lump of clay. I could cry and squirm on my own, but other than that, I was completely dependent. Now look at me. I am 21 years old, studying in college, confident, and independent. Not only am I alive and functioning, but I have faith and values. How did I go from being a blushing red infant to a bright part of society? I believe that is largely thanks to my mom and dad.
My mom and dad are very different from one another, which is a very good thing. They both have their own remarkable skills and, of course, weaknesses. The beauty of my childhood is that they both raised me. I grew and benefited from their combined strengths. Like two horses pulling a carriage, if either of them had not pulled their share of the load, I would not be where I am today.
My mom is my angel. She was there for me when my tears would not stop coming. Somehow, in her womanly and maternal way, when she ran her fingers through my hair, my pain faded away. Selflessness is sewn into her DNA. She never thought twice about bathing me when I had chicken pox, or cleaning up after me when I had the flu. She is the one that would serve my sisters and me cinnamon toast and hot cocoa on a blustery winter day. She is the one that magically created patching pajamas for me and my teddy bear. How did she do it? It’s because she is Mom, and only Mom can be Mom. Sometimes Mom would get sick and Dad would try to be Mom. Dad is much better at being Dad.
Okay, so my dad doesn’t make the best mom, but he sure makes a great dad. How would I treat women without the example of my dad? He showed me through his example that women should be honored and respected. His commitment to my mom was one of his greatest acts of love to me. I would probably be as spineless as a slug if it weren’t for my dad. A teenage punk like me needed a dad to show me how to get calluses on my hands. If it weren’t for him it is probable that I would have never learned how to rake leaves on crisp Saturday mornings, or to shovel the frozen driveway before school. There is no doubt about it; my dad has molded me into the man that I am today.
I am not psychic, so I do not know how things would have been if my parental situation had been different. There are thousands of scenarios of what could have happened. Maybe I would have survived a divorce, or maybe I would have toughed it out with a single mom raising me. Overcoming obstacles like those are not impossible. However, I believe that parenting with a mom and a dad is the best way to raise children and I will always be glad that I had it that way. Now I’m building my own life like a skyscraper in a busy city. Brick by brick I learn and grow. But who laid the foundation for me before I could build myself? My mom and dad did, because they loved me, even before I was born.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.