When Did Fatherhood Become Something To Brag About?

14/08/2014 16:59 | Updated 20 May 2015

Father holding and kissing baby girl

The other week, I bumped into a friend I hadn't seen for 10 years and we snuck off for a drink together.

After a beery hour of sauntering down memory lane, he got up to leave.

"Gotta get back for the kids," he said.

My gast was flabbered. Not because it was Rob's round – but because he hadn't once mentioned he was a dad.

When I asked him why not he replied: "It's no big deal, is it?"

"Well, it is," I countered. "Biggest deal of your life, no?"

As he was putting his coat on, Rob said: "If I'd told you, that's all we would have talked about for the last hour. There's more to life than talking about kids, no?"

I could see his point. We'd discussed Man United's appalling form, the pointlessness of the Chancellor taking a penny off a pint, how to make the perfect burger and how scientists had detected the first gravitational waves from the Big Bang.

We'd talked about his travels around Peru and Mexico, and mine to Manchester and the farmers' market.

We spent several minutes on 'Whatever happen to...?' and then we parted company with a pledge to connect on Facebook, which neither of us will follow through.

Somehow my children's swimming lessons, guitar tuition, handwriting problems, class teas and school assemblies didn't feel appropriate.

Besides, as a house dad I sometimes feel my life is way too integrated with my children's. We need some time away from each other.

So when the weekends come round, I feel like weeping with joy when my hard working wife walks through the door to catch up with the children she bore – and to release me from my confinement.

Invariably, I head to the pub to bond with adults over football and beer. And should the conversation turn to children, I change the subject.

I don't talk to my friends – who are also dads – about my kids because I presume they are as uninterested in their exploits as I am in their children's.

Besides, the pub for me is when I become Me The Man again, not Me The Dad. But recently, the status of 'Dad' seems to have become less a simple matter-of-fact of life but more a badge of honour.

In fact, Prince William actually used that term when describing the very routine, very ordinary duty of changing Prince George's nappy: "I did the first nappy, it's a badge of honour."

When did being a dad become such a thing to be proud of instead of, well, just being?

It's hardly an achievement is it? Some of us didn't even work up a sweat. It isn't like flying to the Moon or curing disease.

Even being a 'good dad' isn't particularly difficult: make sure your kids eat healthily and get a good night's sleep; talk to them; play with them; take them to fun places; support their reading and writing; make sure no bastard does them any harm. Job done.

So why do we seem surrounded by fathers who feel the need to broadcast how much they love their kids, how much they engage with their kids, how bloody brilliant they are as fathers?

We've gone from being portrayed as useless idiots by the advertising industry to virtually being deified – all because we feed, wipe, kiss, cuddle and ENGAGE with our children.

As stand-up comedian Chris Rock observed in his brilliant 'I take care of my kids' routine about feckless fathers: "That's what you're SUPPOSED to do."

When did this happen, this Look At Me Aren't I A Great Dad Phenomenon?

Is it the fault of celebrity dads?

Peter Andre, perhaps, who is even known in sleb circles as Peter 'I love my kids' Andre?

Or David Beckham: "I'm a dad, I have four kids, I'm married, I do the school run every morning and make the dinner every night."


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