Dad Tribes: Who’s Your Daddy (Or What Type Of Father Are You)?
Father’s Day isn’t just an opportunity to give (and hope to receive) nice gifts in MR PORTER boxes. It’s also a moment to reflect on the men who shaped our lives: to celebrate their quirks and eccentricities while poking fun at their foibles, fumbles and questionable fashion choices.
On this latter point, dads make for exceptionally easy targets. While they’re a far more dynamic bunch than previous generations, they still, thank goodness for us, lend themselves to stereotype. Here, then, are just a few of our favourites, ranging from the relentless triathlete to the stressed-out stay-at-homer. See any that you recognise?
01. The Shameless Dad
When used as a prefix, the word “dad” conveys a kind of happy mediocrity: think of the flabby, untoned “dad bod”, the so-uncool-it’s-cool “dad shoe” or the intentionally unfunny “dad joke”. Others might feel aggrieved at this, but this dad doesn’t fight it. In fact, he positively revels in his dad-ness. Snoring on the sofa, sonic-boom sneezes, embarrassing his kids in front of their friends by clumsily appropriating youthspeak – “See you after school, yeet!” – if there’s a dad cliché going, he proudly and shamelessly makes it his own. This extends to treating the barbecue as his personal dominion and insisting on wearing a poor-taste novelty apron, all while streaming the whole thing on TikTok, much to the horror of his teenage kids.
02. The Sideline Dad
Trapped inside the body of the Sideline Dad is the ghost of the world-class sportsman he could have been – no, would have been – if only his dad had pushed him like he’s pushing his kids. Or if, instead of a clarinet, he’d been handed a football, a tennis racket, or anything, anything but a clarinet, things would have been different. With his own physical peak now a distant memory, he’s still convinced that he carries in his genetic code some rare sporting talent. Sideline Dad is committed to channelling his competitive spirit into ensuring that his own child doesn’t suffer the same fate. And if this means subjecting poor little Tom Brady Jr to Saturday-morning drills when all of his friends are playing Minecraft, then so be it. If it means buying him yet more sports equipment for his birthday when all he wants is a clarinet, then so be it. Nothing will get in the way of his dreams.
03. The Action Dad
“The calves on the man,” fellow dads can be heard to remark at parents’ evening, their voices expressing admiration tinged with envy. It helps that Action Dad has chosen, on a brisk evening in October, to reveal said calves in all their tanned, bulging glory. Look at them emerging from his shorts like a pair of cudgels whittled out of honey-roast ham: it’s positively vulgar! Did he mention that he ran here? Surely there must be a few parents or teachers – or, failing that, kids – who he hasn’t told yet? As for his own children, they’re already painfully aware of their father’s athletic prowess: they spend every weekend halfway up a mountain or wild swimming in a freezing lake. No wonder they’re always too tired to make it to parents’ evening.
04. The Stay-At-Home Dad
Let us pause for a moment to acknowledge how noble the Stay-At-Home Dad was in putting the brakes on a promising career in order to help raise his young family. It was very selfless of him to forego his status as breadwinner so that his wife – who just happens to earn twice as much, not that that’s relevant – could return to work. Right on, brother! You truly are an ally to womenfolk everywhere. What’s more, he made this decision knowing that it wouldn’t be easy. He didn’t think it would be quite this hard, admittedly, and he does wish that his wife had been a bit clearer about the sheer volume of work involved in taking care of children. The golf clubs he bought in anticipation of having a bit more free time on his hands have been gathering dust, while the novel he promised himself he’d write is still very much an idea, or a vague collection of ideas, in his head. But, no, he definitely knew what he was getting himself into, and he certainly wasn’t looking forward to some kind of easy life as a kept man. And while the endless washing up of bibs and baby spoons might occasionally make him yearn for the strange comfort of being squished into the aisle of a commuter train at 7.30am, he knows deep down that he made the right choice… right?
05. The Over-Prepared Dad
This very modern dad throws himself into parenting with gusto. Sorry, did we say gusto? We meant gizmos. Bottle holsters and five-point harnesses, motion sensors and electric nail trimmers, glorified flip-top bins described by the manufacturers as “nappy disposal systems”, any product with the word “smart” in the name – it’s almost as if he’s read a blog post entitled “10 Essential Gadgets Every New Dad Must Own” and concluded that he actually must own them, or somehow risk losing his status as a new dad. While such commitment to his fatherly duties must surely be commended – he’d read every parenting book going by the second trimester – the upshot of all this is that it now takes him an hour to leave the house, and by the time he’s strapped himself into his utility belt of baby gadgets, he looks like Batman. (Only the dad version. Dadman?) He’s also bombarded with targeted ads for gimmicky new baby products on Instagram, a situation hardly helped by the fact that he continues to buy every single one of them.
Illustrations by Mr Pete Gamlen