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5 best TV dads

By Dawn Calleja

5 best TV dads

5 best TV dads

Evolution of the TV dad

Fathers of the world, rejoice! The era of the doltish dad is over. In the early 1990s, wise patriarchs like Cliff Huxtable, Tony Micelli and Steven Keaton began to disappear from the dial, replaced by hyper-incompetent, and sometimes downright mean, dads like Reg Forman of That 70s Show and Ray Barone and his father, Frank, of Everybody Loves Raymond. No more. These days, sensitive single dads and loving family men rule network TV. As someone with a husband whose patience and ease with children regularly puts me to shame, I say it’s about time. Here are five TV dads we love right now.

5 best TV dads

Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell), Modern Family

Why we love him: Phil doesn’t parent his three children; he peer-ents. If you’re not familiar with the term (since Phil made it up), that means talking like a kid while still acting the grownup. Sure, he often sounds like a dork, but his heart’s always in the right place. Oh, and did we mention that he learned all the dances from High School Musical to impress his daughters?
Quotable: “I'm afraid we'll have to settle this in court. Food court. Honorable Judge Cinnabon presiding!”

What we can learn from him: Empathize with your kids but don’t try to be their best friend. They need a parent, not a pal.

5 best TV dads

Chris Brinkley (Will Arnett), Up All Night

Why we love him: He trades a partnership at a high-end law firm for dirty diapers and play dates, staying at home with baby Amy when his wife goes back to work as a TV producer.
Quotable: “I don't want to be objectified in front of the baby.”

What we can learn from him: Staying at home to raise a kid is the toughest job you’ll ever have. It’s okay to screw up sometimes.

5 best TV dads

Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion), Castle

Why we love him: The bestselling mystery writer, amateur detective and single dad lives in a luxurious Manhattan apartment with his daughter, Alexis, and his aging actress of a mother. He’s the super-cool, supportive dad every teenager dreams of—laser-gun wars, horror-movie marathons and a complete willingness to let his not-so-little-girl make her own decisions. Of course, he’s always ready with some wise words, and an adorably dimpled smile, when she screws up.
Quotable: “Wait, I can’t tell that story. It’s wildly inappropriate. Which, oddly enough, is my point. Don't you want wildly inappropriate stories that you can't tell your children?”

What we can learn from him: Respect your child’s decisions and they will respect you back.

5 best TV dads

Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland), Touch

Why we love him: After his wife dies in 9/11 attacks, Martin quits his job as a hotshot reporter to care for his non-verbal son, Jake, who communicates through numbers. Martin follows Jake’s numbers-based clues to help right the world’s wrongs.
Quotable: “There were so many things I wanted to teach you. That's how it was supposed to be. That's what being a father was: me teaching you. Now it turns out, it’s you teaching me... and I want you to know that I’m okay with that.”

What we can learn from him: Kids can teach us all sorts of things, if you let them.

5 best TV dads

Adam Braverman (Peter Krause), Parenthood

Why we love him: Adam loves his family more than anything. He doesn’t always get it right. To be fair, he has a lot to deal with—a son with Asperger’s, a wild teenage daughter, a new baby and a new business venture that’s a bit out of his league. But he just tries so hard. I mean, did anyone’s heart not melt when he donned a pirate costume and had a tennis-racket swordfight with Max in the backyard?
Quotable: “Life will knock you down more times than you can possibly imagine. Don’t knock yourself down.”

What we can learn from him: Trying hard to be a good parent will get you very close to actually being one.

5 best TV dads

More celeb parenting

5 best TV dads

So-long doltish TV dads. Hello sensitive, loving family men. Network TV is finally giving us real role models and some valuable parenting tips.

This article was originally published on Jun 13, 2012
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