Back in the early 1960’s probably the predominant style of dad was depicted well in the AMC TV show, “Madmen” and its main character, Don Draper. Even if you never saw the show, you will quickly get the idea. Don was detached and pretty indifferent to his kids and there was a sneering, dismissive quality to the way he interacted with his children. My guess is Don viewed his children as annoying gnats that were just around to bother him. There was none of that “quality time” we have come to appreciate as part of the parent landscape.
Frankly, the mom, Betty, wasn’t much better. Nurturing would not be seen as one of her top qualities.
Fast forward a few generations and what do we have – “Fun Dad Nation!”
Take all of Don Draper’s qualities and the opposite are embodied in the dads of Fun Dad Nation.
These dads are a blast. They are usually involved with all sports, they even like playing video games, and doing goofy stuff at the dinner table – what a package! These dads, might be more hands-on and invested in their kids, from potentially taking an interest in how their kid’s rooms are decorated, so what paint or cool wallpapers could be used for example, or maybe even helping choose out what their kids play with and their clothes. They also may play an active role in supporting their chimldren to be more active by taking an interest in their favorite sports are truly beneficial to a child’s development and determination.
Some dads may become so invested in their child’s sporting achievements, that they decide to visit a site like Imprint to give their child their very own customized sporting attire, so they can advance even further in their chosen field. You may just have to make sure that they don’t put anything too embarrassing on them though! These fun dads will often get involved in sports too. For example, one of my friends always plays sports with his son. His son loves playing paintball, so he purchased his own paintball vest so they could both play together. By doing so, he has proved himself as a fun dad and has strengthened the bond between him and his son.
Here’s one bit of caution to the dads of Fun Dad Nation. The hierarchy in the family matters. Parents need to be parents. They need to make sure that all the most important family matters are taken care of, such as making sure you keep your will up to date, in case something unexpected were to happen to you. Acting like a parent when it is needed is very important. They need to be clear in their leadership. All fun coupled with lots of ambivalence or ambiguity of message does not play well with kids.
I will use a reflection from my own childhood to illustrate with a simple example.
I picture myself sitting in a small family room, watching sports with my dad. When a couple of my dad’s friends come in to join him, without blinking, my dad immediately commands, “Get up, Richard, and let Uncle Frank sit down.”
There is no way that Uncle Frank would be relegated to the cheap seats while some punk kid sat in one of the “grown up seats.” There was plenty of space on the floor, to place my child’s behind, thank you very much.
I knew my place. I scampered to the floor very quickly on getting the command.
There was order in the universe.
It’s my sense that the dads of Fun Dad Nation have a tougher time with that concept. If their equivalent to me (their own punk kid) was sitting in a grown up chair, well the adults coming in would have to find a place until the time that the child decided he would relegate his spot and give it over.
In other words, it was child-decided, not parent-decided.
It’s my impression that from the dads of Fun Dad Nation you are less likely to hear clear commands coming from them. Such commands are passé, an outmoded style of being a dad from a long forgotten era.
Telling your kid to get out of chair for another adult is so yesterday
The problem is children still need clear direction from someone (preferably a parent) with clarity (and a backbone). I don’t care what decade we’re talking about, wishy-washy parenting never plays well with kids.
So, dads of Fun Dad Nation, listen up, while you sit back in your reclining chair this Father’s Day and your kid is sitting next to you, certainly enjoy the moment. However, if the equivalent to “Uncle Frank” comes in the room, remind your kid that the floor is a great place for him to find himself.
Don’t worry about your kid’s comfort or feelings at the moment.
Restore order in the universe.
Don’t go “Don Draper” on your kids, but don’t go “Gumby” either.
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