One quiet day at the Pop Culture laboratories, an expansive space between the women’s bathroom and the color copier at Parenting headquarters, it hit me: The dad stereotype we’ve all come to know—the working man in the tacky tie, the guy lounging in the La-Z-Boy—is long gone.
Archie Bunker is dead, Al Bundy now has a hot Latina wife and a stepson, and La-Z-Boy’s latest celebrity spokesperson is Brooke Shields. It’s time we reevaluated our species. But make no mistake: We have a stereotype—we just don’t know what it is yet. Stereotypes take years to form, so to our grandchildren, we will be as easy to spot as our fathers a half-century ago.
I can’t wait until then, so here’s my attempt to scientifically categorize the modern dad.
There are a lot more dads these days. Notice I didn’t say fathers. There’s a difference between the two. Darth Vader said to Luke Skywalker, “I am your father.” He didn’t say “I am your dad.” More guys are now getting their hands dirty. Fifty years ago, Dad handing over a baby with a dirty diaper to Mom was typical. These days, he would be shunned, or possibly stoned with lead-painted toys.
We mimic our offspring in the wild. It used to be that parents and children had different uniforms. That’s no longer the case. Today’s dad is much more likely to dress like his kid than his father.
We can fix…your printer. Dads aren’t handy in the same ways anymore. Show me a V-6 engine, and I’ll show you a confused man. But we’re useful in a 21st-century way. I can’t fix a carburetor, but I can troubleshoot your e-mail problem.
More than ever before, we deliver. My grandfather didn’t go to the hospital during my father’s delivery. My father sat in the waiting room when I was born. I held my wife’s leg as our first son came into the world. I don’t want to start a firestorm, but this board-certified dadologist is happy to report that there is such a thing as evolution. Ergo, our new species classification: Dadus Technophilus Cargoshorticus