The notion of the new father who enjoys a close bond with his children is not as new as many imagine in modern Britain. Today there is sometimes more emotional intimacy and closeness than in the past, but a tender and enduring love between fathers and their children was well established in Victorian and Edwardian times, says Steve Humphries, producer of A Century of Fatherhood series that recently aired on BBC.
I enjoyed reading The Myth of the Tyrannical Dad, by Steve Humphries because it educated me about fatherhood over the past 100 years. Similar to The Daddy Shift by Jeremy Adam Smith & Evolution of Dad by Dana Glazer, the Century of Fatherhood Project, is a 3-part series on BBC, aimed to dispel myths about fatherhood and educate us that involved fatherhood is nothing new.
Fathers of yesteryear tend to be portrayed as cold, detached, even callous creatures. But, says Steve Humphries, the cuddly, hands-on, sentimental dads we know today are by no means a modern-day creation…This image of the gentle and loving Edwardian working class father is at odds with our general perception of fathers in the past. We tend to picture them as tyrannical patriarchs whose children were seen and not heard and lived in fear of father’s punishments. It is only in recent decades – or so we imagine – that dads have become approachable, caring and committed to the wellbeing of their children. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have not had the opportunity to view the BBC Fatherhood Series, but it seems clear that fathers have always been involved, interested, and caring about their kids. It’s fantastic to see more recent universal projects out there for dads (and all parents) to provide the history and background on fatherhood. Dads seek knowledge too about perfecting our craft so we can become better fathers.