I grew up watching sitcoms on weekday nights. My dad, sisters and I would sit back and pick an episode of Home Improvement, Family Matters, Full House, or The Cosby Show among other selections. I can still hear my dad’s laugh while he was watching those shows.
Even after I moved out of my parents home and married my wife, I continued to watch sitcom television shows that featured various types of dads. Currently, my DVR is about half full of sitcoms and I can’t imagine that ever changing.
After stepping into a bit of a storm last month with my ill-advised decision to publish a post entitled Top 10 Things Mothers do Better than Fathers, I learned for the first time that the dad blog community had been frustrated with shows like Home Improvement. Apparently, Tim Taylor did not do justice to the real dads who are trying to fix the mainstream image of the “hands-off dad” for fathers everywhere.
I can understand this sentiment. Tim Taylor was certainly not a model father. In fact, many of these shows mock fathers as incompetent dipsticks, blundering around trying to fulfill their rather limited roles as fathers. I have always viewed fathers in these types of shows as a combination of every bad, funny, or quirky characteristic from every father I’ve ever known all jammed into one fictional person. That’s part of the reason I find these shows so funny. I can watch an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond and point to certain things Ray says and identify which father I know who has similar characteristics. And sometimes the bad characteristic is one of my bad characteristics–I’m not a perfect father either.
The truth is fathers from shows like Home Improvement don’t do justice to many of the fathers out there. Many fathers are stay-at-home parents who have mastered the art of caring for their children. Other single fathers juggle a work schedule and their role as a parent and do it quite well. There are fathers who work full time jobs in order to support their children and do what they can to care for their children and do an admirable job in their parenting role.
As a father who goes to work each day and only gets to spend a few hours a day with my kids, I am secure in the type of father I am. No matter how many shows I watch about blundering dads, those dads will not be the judge of the type of father I am to my children. For me, watching these types of shows does nothing to affect my sense of security as a father. Instead, they allow me to sit back and have a good laugh.
Although I know that many dads are “working earnestly to be taken seriously as parents and sometimes can’t afford senses of humor about it,” I’m a dad who wouldn’t enjoy this world all that much if I couldn’t find humor in parenting.
When you really look for it, you can see some good qualities in some of the dads in sitcoms. Here is my list of some of the best sitcom style TV dads:
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