With Father’s Day swiftly approaching high street retailer Clinton Cards has swooped on a nice PR opportunity and released a piece of research they’ve conducted into the changing portrayal of dads on Father’s Day cards.

Split into five phases the cards trace the development of dads from “aloof, pipe-smoking, newspaper-reading, besuited men ‘enthroned’ by the fireplace” to be “replaced by casually-dressed, soft-in-the-middle, sofa-dwelling figures, often likened to Darth Vader and far more likely to be comically inept,” Clinton’s say.

“In 50 years, dads have put on around 15 kilos, and are far less likely to be depicted behind the wheel of speed boats or sports cars or scoring the winning goal. They are, though, more likely to have a strong emotional connection with their children.” Amen to that!

The five phases include:
A formal phase (mid to late-1960s): the slightly austere dad, sitting in an armchair in a three-piece suit and tie, smoking a pipe and reading the paper whilst family attend to his every need.

The ‘undo-the-tie’ phase (late 1960s to early 1970s): characterised by cards that invite dads to abandon the razor and the tie for a day of ‘indulgence’.

The ‘Walter Mitty’ phase (early 1970s to 1980): Dads as sporting icons or adventure sports enthusiasts, jumping from planes, piloting speed boats, driving racing cars or scoring the winning goal.

The ‘cute bear’ phase (early to late 1980s): softer dads, more approachable and emotional.

The anything goes phase (late 1980s to today): today’s dads – the subject of jokes, more likely to be comically inept. Frequently the source of loans, a 1% chance of being Darth Vader, depicted, variously, as dogs, pineapples, gorillas, leopards, teddy bears, tortoises, lions, bears, elephants, crocodiles, donkeys, parrots and frogs; a 2% chance of being seen as a superhero; a 1% chance of displaying ‘builders’ cleavage’.

Personally, my favourite depiction of a dad on a Father’s Day card is the one I got from my daughter from last year (she was three at the time). A lovely hand-drawn head with shark like teeth, Homer Simpson style hair and three legs!

All images from Clinton Cards