Wondering what it takes to be a good father (or a bad one)? History—and nature—has some clues.
He may have been a little overprotective at the start, but you can’t help but love this little clownfish who unwillingly befriends a Pacific blue tang, faces sharks who claim to be vegetarians, somehow outwits an anglerfish and swims all the way from the Great Barrier Reef to Sydney, just to rescue his son, Nemo.
The former president of the United States of America not only wrote a book (Of Thee I Sing) for his children, shortly after his inauguration in 2009, he made a public declaration of love to them in an open letter published in Parade magazine. Enough said.
Sir Thomas More
Probably better remembered as the author of Utopia and the statesman from King Henry VIII’s court who refused to recognise the king’s separation from the Catholic Church, Sir Thomas More was also a doting and affectionate father to both his son and daughters. He even insisted on giving his daughters the same classical education as his son, an uncommon practice at that time.
He doesn’t discriminate, willingly and readily adopts everybody into His family, and is super quick to forgive. Even knowing they would choose to disobey Him, God decides to create humans, sacrificing His own Son to pay for the consequences of their actions. He loves abundantly, shows exceeding patience and is always there for His children—us.
This species probably trumps all dads since it’s the male that gets pregnant and experiences the “joy” of contractions and labour. Seahorse fathers aren’t perfect however—once their offspring (known as “fry”) are born, they are left to fend for themselves.
This lord of the dark side first abandons his children, then many years later, captures his daughter and forces her to witness the destruction of her home planet. He follows that up with a lightsaber duel with his son where he slices off his son’s hand and only then decides to reveal, “Luke, I am your father.”
A patriarch from the Bible, Isaac loved his twin sons, but evidently not equally. He (and his wife) played favourites, causing some serious sibling rivalry. (You can read the account in the Bible, in the 27th chapter of the book of Genesis.)
In 2007, the Hollywood actor left a rather shocking voicemail message for his then 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, calling her “rude” and “thoughtless” among other more horrible names, when she did not answer the phonecall he had previously scheduled to make from New York. The good news is father and daughter appear to have mended their relationship and seem to be close now.
Peter the Great
As a Russian Tsar in the late 1600s, Peter Alexeyevich made some lasting reforms, emphasised the importance of education and led a cultural revolution in the country. As a father, he was pretty scary. When his son, Alexei, was suspected of being involved in a plot to overthrow him, he had Alexei tortured to obtain a confession.
Extremely territorial and opportunistic omnivores, they will hunt and kill anything that encroaches upon their domain, even if that happens to be little Ted who accidentally strays into dad’s bachelor pad. Thankfully, little bear cubs do have fiercely protective mama bears to care for them.