Best of the 2010s: The #DadLife Decade

Doug French2020 Dad 2.0 Summit, Fatherhood on Friday

We learned a lot in the 2010s. Our galaxy contains more than 100 billion planets. Selfies are deadlier per capita than shark attacks. Dinosaurs had dandruff.

And fathers spending time with their children results in “a better, healthier, more educated, more stable, less criminal world.”

This was the decade when we started studying fatherhood in earnest, and each finding was more astonishing than the last. Children in fatherless homes are much more likely to live in poverty, abuse drugs and alcohol, drop out of high school, break the law, get pregnant, and commit suicide. The list goes on and on, and it has inspired author and Dad 2.015 speaker Stephen Marche to conclude that having a father in your life is a public good.

It’s important to mention that none of these studies required that fathers possess a particular set of skills. The emphasis is on presence, putting in the work, and figuring it all out one day at a time, like everyone else. And for a comprehensive catalog of fatherhood in progress, you can check out the hundreds of millions of Instagram photos tagged with #dadlife, #dadgoals, #proudpapa, and countless others.

Fatherhood grew up with the written word (see our favorite blog posts of the decade below), but now that Instagram has blown up to over a billion users (it’s three times the size of Twitter, with a younger and broader base of active users), images of fatherhood—the ups, the downs, the celebrities, the dopey memes—are more visible as ever. They’re all imparting an intangible influence over new dads, who are adopting fatherhood as a cornerstone of their masculinity.

This, we believe, is the true nature of dadfluence, another of this decade’s innovations. When guys like Gibberish Dad, Cheer Dad, and BBC Dad go viral, it’s because their content showcases fatherhood in all its weird, wonderful spontaneity. And when brands partner with fathers, they’re doing a lot more than merely marketing products to consumers. They’re marketing fatherhood to a culture that loves family stories and is only just starting to realize how important they are to creating a more empathetic, equitable society.

Delusions of grandeur? Possibly. But if you’ve decided to be the change you want to see, why not aim big?

20 FOR ’20

In association with 2019’s finest, here are some of our favorite blog posts of the decade, some of which even predate our organization. These 20 guys are a mere microcosm of the many hundreds of dads who helped make the #Dadlife Decade happen. (And for those of you who assert this decade doesn’t end until next year, we appreciate your concerns, however inconsequential they may be.)

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  • “Now she can grasp my hand with hers, her sweaty little octopus hand, and every time she does, my heart swells a little. Because she is choosing me.”—Neal Call, On Holding Hands (A Meditation On Being A Father [2012]
  • “The voices that have affected me the most aren’t the angry ones, or the historical ones, or the legal or political ones. The most affecting voices have been the ones that see their own children in Trayvon.”—Chris Fan, That’s Someone’s Child [2012]
  • “Without me there are all sorts of wonderful truths she’s yet to discover. And as magical as I’ve tried to make her childhood, I know it can’t go on like this forever.”—Jim Griffioen, Letting Go [2011]
  • “In some ways, we are even closer now, my mother and I, because death has granted her access that life would never have allowed. All thoughts lead to her, at all times, even when I am far away and do not want for company.”—Whit Honea, The Other Side of Broken [2015]

  • “I’m staking my claim and realizing it shouldn’t matter if my friend got me into something. Nothing changes the fact that the leaves of autumn are beautiful.”—Lorne Jaffe, Do I Really Like What I Like? [2013]
  • “My daughter has taught me that I’m not always quite as good a person as I like to think I am but, at the same time, I’m nowhere near as bad a person as I sometimes think I am.”—Pierre Kim, What I’ve Learned: The Parenting Edition [2011]
  • “I’m really going to miss this when they get older. All of this. The rides in the car. Listening in on the ease of their conversation. The wonder. The uninhibited joy.”—Andrew Knott, We’re Running Out Of Time [2017]
  • “Watching two guys kick and punch each other to a bloody pulp in a ring was ‘soooo boring, Dad!’ And when I say that those words broke my heart, I’m not kidding.”—Jim Lin, Nature Pwns Nurture [2010]

  • “The nurse sucked the last of his water world out of him. And then the cry, a goodbye to that wet planet.”—Ira Sukrungruang, Up and Under: On Water, Fatherhood, and the Perils of Both [2018]
  • “One of the last people I came out to was my 10-year-old daughter. Strange that the final person to hear the news was one of the people who needed to know the most.”—Seth Taylor, And Then We Had Hamburgers [2013]
  • “Dutiful controlling parent that I am, it’s actually tempting sometimes to say something: “seeing as we are all waiting together for this light to change, could you at least not shout motherfucker?”—Nathan Thornburgh, NYC Blue [2012]
  • “I’m terrified to tell them that I’ve been in prison. That I was arrested and spent nearly a year of my life as an inmate.”—Doug Zeigler, The Shame I Harbor [2017]

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