I have learned about being a dad in two different places. First by watching people like my father, my grandfathers and other father figures in my life. All and all I have found this helpful and I have learned a lot. The second place I’ve ‘learned’ about being a dad was from TV. TV for the most part is a terrible place to learn how to be a dad because, TV lies.
Here are 5 lies TV tells us about being a dad;
1. Dads Always Know What To Do- Worst Offender in my Mind- Father Knows Best 1954-1960
I will admit it that this show is well before my time. Never the less it really set the stage for every know-it-all dad that ever graced the small screen. As a dad I sure wish I knew how to do everything best, but I don’t. The faster I come to that realization the better for my family and everyone else around me.
2. Dads Are Totally Clueless- Worst Offender In My Mind- Family Guy, 1999-Current
On the total other side of the spectrum we find Peter Griffin of Family Guy. Other than the fact it is a TV show I can’t fathom how his family has A) stayed together and B) survived. If anyone was half as clueless in real life I would hope the government would come sweeping in and rescue the children from that home.
3. It Is Ok To Be Emotionally Distant and Hurtful- Worst Offender In My Mind- American Dad! 2005-Current
Stan takes the know-it-all dad role and adds belittlement and sharp consistent criticism to the list. As a highly right learning man who values stereotypical roles for men and women he frequently belittles his highly left leaning daughter and socially awkward son. Speaking as a rather geeky guy I would have hated to grow up in this household knowing my father didn’t value the person I was. It is worth saying since the show began airing in 2005 Stan has learned a number of lessons and grown as a person. Still he is hardly role model worthy.
4. It is Ok To Be Physically Abusive- Worst Offender in My Mind- The Simpsons-1989-Current
For anyone growing up in the 80’s and 90’s those three little words ‘Why you little…’ are all I need to say. But I will allow ‘Homer’ to speak for me;
Homer: Why you little… (begins to angrily strangle Bart)
Director: Hey, that’s funny! (The two stop, then Homer and Bart continue with a fake strangling as they make mock grunting and gagging noises.)
Homer: And that horrible act of child abuse became one of our most beloved running gags.
(Quote taken from Season 11 Episode 22 Behind The Laughter)
In defence of The Simpson’s this running gag has been waning. According to http://simpsonswiki.net this Homer has not choked Bart since Season 23 and then it was only once.
5. Every Family Crisis Can Be Solved With A Hug- Worst Offender in My Mind- Full House 1987-1995
Let’s face it no matter how hard we try some crises are not solved by the end of the day with a hug. Raising children is harder than this, it takes more than one good heart to heart talk to fix some problems, assuming they can be fixed at all. While good communication and emotional availability are so needed, and will help prevent a lot of issues it does not guarantee that you will have a perfect family. You can do everything right and still have things go oh so wrong.
TV is a great place to relax, waste some time, and heck it can even function as a good distraction for your kids while you make dinner. But TV is a terrible, terrible teacher. Don’t let TV to tell you how to be a Dad.