Fatherly Stuff: Lessons Learned from Sitcom Dads of the 1990's

Feb 28, 2012

Lessons Learned from Sitcom Dads of the 1990's

The majority of my childhood was spent growing up during the 90's. During this decade, there was an explosion of quality sitcoms that my family and I would watch, usually on Friday nights (anyone that's old enough to remember TGIF knows what I'm talking about).
Sadly, these types of family oriented sitcoms arent as popular any more, but I wanted to wirte about a few of my favorite shows and what lessons I've learned from each of them.

*Note: I realize that these characters are merely actors and their portrayals of family men are fictional. However, the  positive qualities that these characters have I believe can be translated into real world, family situations*


 #1) Danny Tanner- Full House

As the beloved patriarch of the Tanner Household, Danny was a doting, uncool dad that had an unhealthy cleaning obsession. He would dole out his heartfelt lessons to his daughters (to the background music of violins), and then all would be right with the world
What I Learned- When Danny experiences tragedy with the loss of his wife, he calls on his brother-in-law Jesse and his childhood buddy Joey, (both of whom did a mean Elvis and Popeye impression, respectively) to help out with raising his daughters. As a dad, you’re going to have rough patches and when they come, you should not be afraid to put your pride to the side and call on your close friends and family to help you through. I must admit that sometimes I have trouble incorporating this lesson in my life: Numerous friends and family members have offered their time and support in the form of babysitting so April and I can have “mommy and daddy time”. I am reluctant at times to accept their offers because as a guy, I feel as though you need to carry everything on my shoulders and asking for help would just make you less of a man. I then remind myself that there is nothing “wussy” about getting help and no TV dad better portrays this better than Danny Tanner.



#2) Carl Winslow- Family Matters



Carl is the loving, yet often misunderstood father of 3 and towards the end of the series, (when the writing really started to go south) a fourth child was adopted. I think his most memorable moments involve the confrontations he would have with Steve Urkel. He was an inner city cop who raised his kids with a sort of tough justice that made him beloved by millions of viewers.

What I Learned- As every fan knows, one of Carl’s quirks was the way he would parade around the home and declare himself the “King of the Castle”, or the “Big Kahuna”. Yet, whenever he would confront his wife, Harriet to try and throw his weight around (no pun intended), all she would have to do is give him “The Look”, and he would usually surrender. But what’s fascinating about there is the way he would surrender. No matter how often Harriet would “win” the argument; Carl would always come out with his manhood intact. The main lesson I pull from Carl is the subtle art of conflict resolution when dealing with your spouse.





#3) Uncle Phil- Fresh Prince of Bel Air

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was arguably one of the funniest shows on TV in the late 90’s. And while Will Smith was no doubt the star of the show, Uncle Phil’s mix of angry confrontations and fatherly guidance made the show worth watching.

What I Learned- During the series, we watched Uncle Phil’s career evolve from his position as a high powered lawyer, to a prestigious appointment as a judge. For most parents, a career path such as this would mean that quality time with their children is sacrificed for extra time in the office. Phil however, does an excellent job balancing his career and family life well by demonstrating how you can be successful in your career and at the same time, be an attentive father.



#4) Tim Taylor- Home Improvement


Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor is the grunting, drilling and often accident prone main character of the beloved show, “Home Improvement”. He balances being a TV host, husband, friend and father in a way that was both meaningful and hilarious. But mostly hilarious.
What I Learned- One of the running gags of the show is Tim’s love for his Hot Rod, a car that he built from scratch throughout the entire series. He would regularly share special moments with his children while they were working on it. Also, he took his children out all the time to do special projects. Sure, Tim would usually get himself hurt during these projects, but that isn’t the point. The point is as a father, he knew that by doing those things with your child is a great way to develop memories and bonds that will last a lifetime.

#5) Heathcliff Huxtable- Cosby Show

Mmmm, pudding!

Dr. Huxtable of the Cosby Show is the eccentric father of four  who has an addition to junk food and colourful, multi patterned sweaters. His dedication to this family is only matched by his competitive streak, which often got him into trouble.

What I Learned-One of the things that I admired about the show is the way Dr. Huxtable would use humor to both connect as a well as teach important lessons to his children. Most people, note just children, respond well to a message that is brought to them is a funny way, and such a lesson can be a useful communication skill throughout your life.

So guys, what did you think of this article? If ithis turns out the be popular, maybe I'll do another piece with analyzing other TV dads in the future.