For too long mothers have copped all the flak. They've been prodded and pushed into unflattering stereotypes like Olympic Mum, Germ-Phobic Mum, Afraid-of-the-Sun Mum and the much-maligned Boot-Camp Mum.
Yet, in recent years, there has been a slight movement towards encouraging mothers to cut each other a bit of slack, lighten up and laugh at themselves. So now it's the father's turn. Meet six members of the Daddy Mafia... you'll never see them coming.
This is the male equivalent of Chardonnay Mum. Many of these dads choose vodka simply due to the colourless aspect -- one can simply add it to a glass of cranberry juice. When your child asks, "Can I please have a sip of your juice?" Dad can reply, "No, this is Daddy's special juice." Just make sure Daddy's juice is kept away from tiny hands.
One Vodka Dad stopped his three-year-old from enjoying a mouthful of his father's night-time pleasurable beverage in the nick of time. "It's the only way I can make it through witching hour," he explained. Bless the man who is home at a child-friendly hour that enables him to help -- or, in some cases, take over -- the cooking/feeding/bathing/bedtime antics. Vodka Dads are always popular, with or without a cocktail party.
These dads like to tell their partner that they have an early morning meeting. The reality? They just want to get out of the morning shenanigans of breakfast, lunch-making, school uniform and last-minute additions to a science project.
The Runaway Dad can often be found hiding at the local café, sipping coffee, nibbling at raisin toast and reading the newspaper. One Runaway Dad I know was sprung by a friend of his wife who immediately phoned the woman to say, "I saw Greg at Two Teaspoons café this morning. Shouldn't he be helping you with your five kids?" That night, Greg was hauled over the coals. To his credit, he did admit he needed an hour of 'me time' to recharge his batteries and focus on the 'killer meeting' he was due to attend -- five hours later.
OTT Girl Dad
These fathers are insanely over-protective of their daughters. One OTT Girl Dad shouted at a teenage boy, "Stop looking at my daughter!" at the local supermarket. The boy insisted he was simply looking at a clock behind the girl's head. But OTT Girl Dad was convinced the boy was on the verge of kidnapping his sweet, innocent 13-year-old.
Another OTT Girl Dad, on seeing a four-year-old boy holding a large stick in the park, approached the boy and told him to put it down. "Get rid of that stick! You might accidentally poke my little girl!" shouted Girl Dad. When Boy Mum pointed out that the children were playing at opposite ends of the playground, OTT Girl Dad replied, "Nobody holds a stick in the same playground as my Anna". He later explained that even if the boy had whacked her with the stick, she would not have shed a tear. "Anna has a very high pain threshold," he said.
OTT Boy Dad
These are the fathers who are desperately trying to live through their sons: for good, bad and ugly reasons. They send their sons to the same school they went to: for no other reason than they want a family tradition upheld. They don't take into account the fact that they went there 30 years ago and the school might have changed considerably since then.
OTT Boy Dad forces his 12-year-old son to swim laps of the public swimming pool, four days a week at 5am. "I did it, so now he has to do it," reasoned one OTT Boy Dad. When the son told his father he hated swimming, his father said: "You're not supposed to like it. You're supposed to build your upper body strength."
These are the scream-from-the-sidelines Dads who are beautifully passionate about their child's sporting ability or lack-of-ability. Heck, some of these men even get over-excited at soccer training and have to stop themselves from shouting at the coach, who, in their eyes, is coaching the kids incorrectly.
Sporty Dad begins most sentences with, "In my day..." or "When I was in the national football league..." and, if you're lucky, he will even whip out a photo or two to prove that he was once a sporting star. Yet the mothers all adore these men. Why? Sporty Dads always volunteer to be footy coach, manager or assistant coach. He will even go to the trouble of creating a roster for the families who are providing orange quarters at half time for the little darlings. Everybody loves Sporty Dad because he does the things everybody else is way too busy to do.
Rough and Tumble Dad
These are the lovable dads who, for reasons completely unknown, seem to think kids enjoy being play-wrestled and thrown high into the air before being caught (hopefully) in their manly arms. A friend tells me her five-year-old still has nightmares about being thrown into a swimming pool and told, "Sink or swim!" as a way to teach her how to dog paddle.
Another time he had their son in a head lock for 'fun' and the kid pulled a muscle and had to wear a neck brace for several days. Still, many fathers swear by the rough and tumble aspect of parenting that clearly separates the mothers from the fathers. However, I once met a woman who delights in playing football with her daughters and believes 'a good hard tackle' never hurt anybody.