Laura Numeroff’s What Daddies Do Best is a beloved, whimsical board book with delightful illustrations. A favorite for bedtime reading, young boys and girls cuddle up with this best-selling book and celebrate all the things dad is good at; like playing in the park, reading books and giving piggyback rides. “Daddies can teach you how to ride a bicycle, make a snowman with you, and bake a delicious cake for your birthday,” begins the story. Daddy hippo teaches his son how to ride a bike. Daddy billy goat helps his daughter plant a garden and takes care of her when she is sick. This imaginative little book reinforces a child’s view of their dad as loving, fun, caring and pretty great.
Unfortunately, this is not how fathers are usually portrayed in the media. In popular culture, fathers are often marginalized, depicted as nothing more than a sidekick or a “big kid.” Hollywood’s best-selling fathers are incompetent clowns who get laughs for being awkward as they bungle basic parenting tasks.
“Grown-up” news stories about dads are usually written from negative angles, exposing dead-beat dads and the negative impact of absent, overworked or otherwise unengaged dads. The impact of fatherlessness-a key predictor of poverty, teen pregnancy, incarceration and substance abuse-is bemoaned, analyzed and reported on regularly. But, where are the stories touting and celebrating all of the engaged, involved, loving fathers who are providing their children with enormous advantages in life?
Studies show that when dads do “what daddies do best,” their children grow up more confident and financially successful. They build generationally strong families and their children become people who positively impact their communities. Dads do a lot of wonderful things for their children and it is time to give them some credit. So, here is the “grown-up” version of What Daddies Do Best:
Daddies can have fun with you
Dads are good at playing video games, throwing a football, roughhousing and coaching little league teams. This is good, clean fun and great bonding time, but it is also a whole lot more. Research has found that the time that dads spend roughhousing and playing with their children is crucial for their children’s healthy development. According to Strong Fathers-Strong Families Founder and President J. Michael Hall, “Some research says when fathers play with their kids, kids have the same physiological response as fight or flight but with