Yes, it’s time for an ‘International Dad Fight’ to find out which country is ‘The Daddy of Them All’ at producing great fathers.
Are all fathers naturally great, or does the country we are born in make all the difference?
What helps a nation produce great dads? Is it the culture, tradition, religion, politics, economics, the legal rights of fathers, the way a country values its menfolk or simply a matter of individual choice and behaviour?
And more importantly, how do we measure the greatness of a nation’s fathers? Because if we’re going to have an international dad fight then we better lay down some ground rules or somebody might get hurt!
We don’t want Belgium running to its daddy crying: “Canada says it’s got better dads than us and now I feel all sad.”
So the first rule of international dad fight is … there are no rules. It’s a free for all and the last dad standing is the winner.
If you can make the case for why your country is (or isn’t) a world leader when it comes to producing great dads then bring it on.
In a moment, I will throw the first punch, but before I do, I should declare an interest. I’m English so you can count on me to bring impartiality and fair play to this conversational battle — and I will be incredibly biased in favour of Great British Dads.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be presenting evidence from international studies that compare fathers in different countries to help us to decide which nation sets the standard for great dads.
And I’d love to hear from you if you have something to say about what your country does (and doesn’t) do to help every dad be the great dad they want to be.
One way to find out how great a nation’s dads are is to ask their children, which is exactly what the authors of the United Nation’s “child well-being in rich countries” report did.
They asked children in 28 of the world’s advanced economies if they find it easy to talk to their fathers and mothers.
The good news is that nearly seven out of 10 children (67%) say it’s easy to talk to their dads and just over eight out of 10 children (83%) say it’s easy to talk their mums.
So in terms of the parents whose children don’t find them easy to talk to, around 58% of those parents are dads and 42% are mums.
Overall, in countries where children find it easy to talk to their fathers, they also find it easy to talk to their mothers.
So how do dads of different nations compare?
Well it seems that The Netherlands (81.4%), Iceland (79.8%), Hungary (76.4%) and Romania (74.8%) are ahead of the pack, not only beating dads in other nations, but also outperforming mums in the U.S. and France when it comes to being easy to talk to.
The other countries where dads perform better than the 67% average are: Poland (72.6%); Finland (72.5%); Sweden (72.4%); Spain (70.8%); Denmark (69.5%); Estonia (69.1%); United Kingdom (68.6%) and Ireland (68.1%).
Those performing below average according to their children’s ratings are: Latvia (65.8%); Norway (65.1%); Austria (64.9%); Germany (64.5%); Greece (64.1%); Czech Republic (62.8%); Luxembourg (62.7%); Canada (62.6%); Lithuania (62.1%); Switzerland (62%); Slovakia (61.3%) and Portugal (61.2%).
Finally, down at the bottom of the pile, when it comes to their children finding it easy to talk to them, are dads in Italy (59.9%); United States (59.7%); Belgium (57.3%) and France (50.3%).
So in terms of being a great listener, it’s clear that dads in The Netherlands (81.4%) are the winners while their neighbours in France (50.3%) are the losers.
But before we all rush to crown Dutch dads the undisputed champions of the world, there is another measure to consider and that’s the ‘gender say gap’ – ie, how easy do kids find it to say stuff to their dads, compared to their mums.
The good news for dads in the U.S. is that this measure will have you shooting up the league table and into the Top 10.
Across the world the average gap between mums and dads is 16 percentage points.
On this measure Iceland (9.5) leaps ahead of The Netherlands (10.3) with Sweden, Hungary and Norway following with a gaps of between 13 and 14 points.
Poland, Finland, United States, United Kingdom and Ireland all make it into the Top 10, with Denmark, Ireland, Romania and Spain all close behind with a gap below 16 points.
Nations recording a gap of more than 16 points include Latvia, Slovakia, Canada, Luxembourg, Germany, Estonia, Austria, Switzerland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic.
And the bottom five nations are Greece (19), Italy (19.8), Portugal (20.1), Belgium (20.2) and France (20.9).
So at the end of round one of this international dad fight, Iceland and The Netherlands have struck the first blow while dads in France and Belgium are on the ropes.
Only time will tell whether different measures of dads’ greatness will produce different results from different countries.
In the meantime I’d love to hear your comments on which countries you think produce the best dads and why.
And if you want to contribute to The Good Men Project’s international men’s movement section then please email me at [email protected]
All well-written contributions are very welcome, including those previously published elsewhere. Submissions should be between 500-1500 words long and follow Good Men Project Style Guidelines.
Wherever you are in the world, whatever your viewpoint, if you are committed to improving the lives of men and boys and have something to say on the matter, then I am waiting to hear from you.
Photo credit: flickr/cloudsurfer_UK