There was a time when dads didn’t change diapers, meet with teachers, or help with homework. They were pretty mean, and some think that was a good thing.
Popular Fox News Network host and comedian Tom Shillue is the author of Mean Dads for a Better America, a new book that lovingly and humorously extolls the benefits of having been raised by a father who provided discipline, boundaries, rules and direction. “I had a mean dad. He was unafraid to be mean in the service of raising good children. He was unafraid to be a disciplinarian,” Shillue says of his father, who raised five kids in a small town outside Boston. “We had a great mixture of discipline but also a whole lot of freedom, and that’s what’s missing today in kid’s lives.” He says on summer mornings he was shown the back door and wasn’t allowed back in until lunch, spending afternoons outside playing with friends or siblings, fending for himself, and settling his own disputes.
But the times they have a changed. “Dads today are not as mean as they used to be,” Shillue tells KTRH News. Somewhere along the way society changed and today’s dads have a new set of expectations, including discouragement of some forms of discipline under threat of arrest.
A dad himself, Shillue isn’t complaining. “There’s so much that’s good about parenting today, and about dads being closer to their kids, but I think we could use some of that old-fashioned discipline. The way we strike a balance is to learn from our mean dads, and not be afraid to let kids work things out like they used to,” he suggests.
But Shillue’s mean dad apparently had a softer side. He recounts a time as a child when he brought his mother breakfast in bed, only to be sternly sent back to the kitchen to retrieve another. Dad wanted to share a delightful meal in bed with his wife, surrounded by his kids.
Happy father’s day!