The TV Dads guide to parenting.
Fathers. Love ’em or loath ’em, either way, you have no say in the selection of your father, and you are stuck with him for life.
Fathers come in all shapes and sizes, as does our affection for them.
As a child, your daddy is someone to love and turn to when horrible mummy won’t let you have an ice-cream or stay up late.
When you get to school age, your dad is till very much your big defender. The phrase, “My dad’s bigger than your dad” was always seen as the ultimate playground deterrent, although in these times of same-sex couples it can cause confusion. Exactly which of your dads are you talking about? To add to the confusion, do two mums trump one dad?
As a teenager, your dad becomes unbelievably annoying to you. I know mine was. We never had shouting matches, I was never one for arguments, but God, he used to drive me mad. He used to torture me with soup. He was such a slurper that I am convinced he was capable of slurping a dry spoon (an infuriating trait that I believe he passed on to me). He was also rather short tempered. This characteristic features strongly in the childhood memories of my friends and lingers on in the form of our catchphrase, ‘I saw Lionel and lived’.
But, when you become an adult yourself, your father is in a position to offer advice as you go through the same sequence of events that he encountered while enduring your childish tantrums and adolescent grunting.
It may be this constant flux of emotions and relationships that make it difficult to find hard-and-fast rules about fatherhood.
Do’s and Don’ts for Dads.
As is the case with so many things in modern day life, we draw on the TV for guidance and inspiration. ‘One Born Every Minute’ and ‘Supernanny’ are extremely useful sources of information to guide you through the shit and screaming stages, but there is very little follow-up advice on how to raise your children into fine young adults. All we do know is that if you get it wrong they may grow up to be on ‘The Only Way Is Essex’.
As children, we are constantly learning about the rights and wrongs of relationships, but if the TV is to be believed it’s a wonder we even know what a father is. So many of our best loved childhood heroes are missing fathers. The Wombles are limited to a great-uncle, and Paddington was deserted by his entire family. At least the Clangers have a father, but he is known as Major, so it’s hardly surprising we grow up with the relationships to our fathers that we do. At least Peppa pig has a daddy pig.
It is said that art mirrors life, so a look at some of the fathers portrayed on TV will surely give us a clear view of the state of fatherhood today.
TV Guide – Learning to be a father.
So who are the best TV dads and what do they teach us? Here’s a handful.
Jonny Ball –
For a generation of kids, Jonny Ball made the teaching of mathematics fun. For a brief spell in the 70’s and 80’s with programs like ‘Think of a Number’, maths was cool. It is hard to imagine the coolest dad in the playground being the one shouting out prime numbers and talking about geometry. Mention Pythagoras these days and most people would probably think you were talking about the Brazilian goalie.
John Walton –
The Waltons taught us family values and the power of a strong family unit. They worked together and bonded together by day, and at night, would all go off to bed at the same time. Today, shouting “Goodnight John Boy” through a child’s bedroom door is unlikely to get a reply. All you will hear is the constant drone of Grand Theft Auto being played into the wee small hours.
Fred Flintstone –
In evolutionary terms, we are hunter gatherers. It is interesting to look back at our ancestors and see how provision for our families is based on hunting down the nearest drive-thru and gathering large quantities of cooked meat.
Al Bundy –
In ‘Married With Children’, Al Bundy repeatedly demonstrates that whenever life slaps you in the face, there is no alternative but to grimace, make some disparaging remarks, and wait for the next slap. He shows us that you may run and hide… no, wait. He teaches us that you can’t run and hide, because if you do the family will be waiting with even more problems when you get there.
And finally, someone so fatherly, he even has father in his name.
Father Ted –
Father Ted Crilly teaches us that even if the kids are idiots and the world chooses to surround you with every dimwit it can find, the only thing to do is carry on as if everything is perfectly natural.
Clearly, every father is different and every relationship to a father is different.
A Father’s Day toast
So, whether your father is still around and driving you mad, or if you would just love to hear him slurp his soup one more time, I would like to raise a Father’s Day toast to fathers everywhere.
Other TV dads are available. Who is your favourite?