If you want to really appreciate the father figures in your life, try reading a few fairy tales. Fairy tales bring out the best, and worst, in every character, but the dads in fairy tales are often excessively dull, single minded, and even downright negligent. Who can blame the stepmother for donning the pointed hat and hopping on her ill-used broom? After all, somebody’s got to bring the plot home!
But there are exceptions. There are fathers who are worse than evil, like the ones who try to replace their lost wives with their own daughters (who ought to be reigning from asylums, rather than castles) or those daddy Darwin’s who cunningly pit their sons against each other in cruel, and often deadly, competitions for the throne. But there are fairy tale fathers who’ve risen from the mire and even earned bit of our respect. Here are three such prime padres:
1. Beauty’s Begetter. Sure, this father’s efforts at bread winning are spurned by shipwrecks and less than trust-worthy business partners; sure most of his brood have grown up selfish and petty; sure he does, in the end, allow his one good child to fall into the clutches of a beast, but hey, she did ask for that rose, thorns and all, and on that promise, her father delivered. He also grieved and even sickened in her absence, and in some versions, truly wished to die in her stead– could he help it that his Beauty was as stubborn as she was good-hearted? I think we owe this bedraggled merchant some praise for his compassion, at the very least.
2. Daddy of a Dozen. There are more versions of The Twelve Dancing Princesses than there are daughters of this harried king, and he plays a variety of roles in each, but the overall impression is that of a father concerned for the well-being of his girls. Perhaps he was a bit neurotic about the shoes, and yeah, in some instances, he went overboard with the punishment of those who failed his little sweeties, but honestly, what good father wouldn’t be willing to murder a man who lets his daughters down? So he’s a bit eccentric; at least he’s an interesting dude, and we’re forced to acknowledge his parental involvement.
3. Sleepy’s Sire. Right, so Sleeping Beauty’s dad comes onto the scene in a bumbling, negligent fashion, forgetting to invite the ill-tempered fairy (who is sometimes listed as his own sister!) to his infant daughter’s announcement party, and then, doesn’t quite make it up to her when she does arrive, but when she bestows her bitter curse upon his babe, he does rise up to the occasion. First, there is his banning of all spindles in the keep, by punishment of death, should anyone endeavor to endanger his dearest. Next, when fate overruled his precautions, he ordered for his sleeping princess to feel secure in her dreaming, not only by making her comfortable, but also by demurring to the good fairy and allowing her to put to sleep his entire kingdom of servants and pets, all for the sake of his daughter’s future comfort. Praise to the papa who takes his child’s future into consideration, even when she is unaware.
You can find further examples, especially as you expand your search to the realms of folklore and mythology. As in life, fairy tale fathers are human, and you’ll find the good, the bad and the apathetic among their ranks. Today, we celebrate those fathers (real or representative) who’ve contributed to the well being of children everywhere; children who would surely have floundered without a father’s care to light the dark and winding forests of their futures.