A child is born. A beautiful, perfect child, untouched by the harsh realities of the world we live in. Their potential is unlimited. What adventures they will have! What accomplishments they will achieve! What heights they will reach! What great they will do for humanity! What joy they will bring!
But what if they just turn out to be a complete prick?
I’m sure Hitler’s dad tried his best (actually I just looked it up and he didn’t seem that great a father but still.)
Now, of course, no one would have a child if they knew they were going to be a dick, so every parent goes into it hoping – nay, expecting – the best. But do they ever, in their darkest moments, ever secretly worry that maybe their kid will be the one who ruins it for everyone else?
We spoke to some dads and found out.
Simon, 35, London
“I have two boys and both can be complete dicks at times; the older one genuinely believes he is a Power Ranger and wants to fight any child that comes to our house, and the younger one, a toddler, has such a short temper he can start an argument in an empty room. I literally caught him shouting at the moon the other morning for ‘not saying hello back.’
“I’m sure they’ll grow out of this phase but it does make me worry for many reasons: one you don’t want your children to be unpopular; two you do want to be unpopular because your children are dicks; and three you put so much effort in to teaching them about the better stuff in life that if they turned out to be a dick we would have failed as parents.
“However, I am less worried about them being dicks once they have moved out.”
“I’d take the reflected glory if my children turned out to be brilliant. I think backing a child who shows brilliance in something is probably the most rewarding part of parenting, especially if it’s in something you were shit at yourself.”
Mike, 37, London
“He's such a smiley little legend that I've never thought that he might be a dick. I accidentally punched him in the face during breakfast this morning, and after crying his little eyes out for a bit, he just resumed grinning at me. Wonderful little man.
“Given his combo of massive size and genial nature, I am genuinely hoping he will turn into a Playground Protector and Slayer of Bullies.
“On another note, having just finished a draft memoir of my own father's life, it has made me contemplate what my son would write about me when I die... would he think I'm a loser? A dick? A bit unimpressive, average? Will I be his hero, like my Dad was to me? What do I need to do to make that happen?”
Gary, 38, New York
“Both of mine are too small to detect any signs of dickishness.
“I do see very posh kids on New York's Upper East Side on a daily basis (generally wearing ridiculous school uniforms) and think it's a good job we'll be leaving when our kids are 5 and 3 (work will be taking me back to London then).
“Also as my work can take me pretty much anywhere, I am thinking if there are any indications of either kid going wrong, I have the option of moving us all to Tashkent, St Helena or Ottawa.”
“My biggest fear would not be around doing well or badly in terms of career or money (or being clever/an idiot), but being bad human beings.”
Harry, 32, Essex
“I have two main fears and I don’t know which is worse:
“She doesn’t like football.
“She does like football, but supports West Ham.
“How could you cope with that?”
Fred, 31, Manchester
“Let alone bad, I have sometimes worried, during a 3am snot-soaked end-of-days meltdown that she is demonically possessed. Generally, though, my 3-year-old daughter is a kind, clever and genuinely funny kid. However it's sometimes impossible to not feel that you are raising an entitled little fuck, not because she's spoilt, or because she never gets told ‘no’, but just – and not to get all 'all we had when I were a lad were a fistful of gravel to play with' – there's a lot of upsides to being a kid nowadays. For example, with the heat-wave upon us, we bought a new paddling pool as we've got some mates with kids coming round so they can all have a play. We found one which has a built-in slide, sprinkler and octopus ring toss game. The kind of thing that, growing up, you would have sacrificed a nad for. Of course, we're going to buy that one, it's amazing. But one look and she's like, ‘meh’.
“So while I don't fear that she might be bad as such, I worry she'll just always expect a bit more than she gets and she'll become one of those ghastly people who always complain in restaurants.
“I hope that with the luck of nature and providing I don't fuck up the nuture too much I can raise two well-rounded young women who are fun and clever and intelligent and socially aware and free from anxiety and doubt without being entitled little fucks (see above). And anything that goes awry while they're young I can hopefully sort out. What I do genuinely worry about though is them being bullied or cyber-bullied or revenge-porned for whatever reason and obviously, when they get to a certain age, lads. I was one, I know what they're like. It's the stuff that I won't necessarily be able to sort out for them that worries me as I know that despite every atom in my being wanting to protect them, my jurisdiction, rightly so, has to end at a certain point.
“I hope that they won't turn out as dicks and if I thought they were veering in that direction I would hopefully set them straight. I'm pretty confident they won't. But it would bother me if they did for whatever reason. I'd feel I'd failed in some way.
“I would love for them to be genuinely brilliant at something even if it's something I wish I'd had the courage to follow, like being a session drummer or successful novelist or something. At least I can live vicariously through them. Hell, I might even encourage them by forming a band with them like the dad out of Mystery Jets. So yeah, I hope and pray they make me look like a total loser, I actively look forward to it.”
Steve, 34, Bristol
“I’m not all that worried about my girls turning out to be dicks. I just generally assume that most (most) people aren't dicks, especially most people with vaguely normal parents, so they shouldn’t turn out too bad (except after they learn to drive, because literally everyone is a dick when they're driving. Particularly in Bristol. Me included).
“I'm a bit worried that if they did turn out to be dicks, though, I wouldn't be able to recognise it in them. That thought has crossed my mind! 'My kid can do no wrong' kinda thing. Would be awful to be that parent.
“I have a genuine fear that they'd grow up and vote Tory. Unforgivable. It would mean a yawning chasm of understanding had opened up between us, and we just wouldn't 'get' each other any more, on even the most basic level. Scary thought.
“Don't mind if they're brilliant or thick though in all honesty - just want them to be happy... and not dicks.”
Liam, 33, Birmingham
“It doesn't keep me awake at night, but I do get the crushingly real feeling every now and then that if either of my kids are psychopaths, there's not a lot I can do about it.
“With that in mind, my job is to try and prevent them from becoming sociopaths, if they're not psychopaths. I feel like that's a worthwhile cause, and one that I can turn my hand to.
“I'm not a 'helicopter parent'; instead, I prefer to observe them experiencing the world and all its challenges, only stepping in when they're about to sever their/someone else's limb, or lose/gain an eye. This has the added benefit of making me more dynamic and responsive. Win/win.
“Something I find vitally important is to teach them good manners. I like to accompany this with trying to teach them that it's not always possible to understand why another person behaves a certain way, so that they don't feel too bad if they are the ones being dicked on.
“This will either lead to well-developed and socially secure children, or polite sociopaths who don't give a fuck if their behaviour is completely unjustified.
“Either way, it can't be said that I didn't try. My work is done.”
Duncan, 35, London
“I think the idea that your kids could just – through an unfortunate fluke of genetics, or simply through a life experience – turn on the path to dickness is something that just isn’t acknowledged enough.
“Every parent naively thinks that their little petal will be the most perfect creature that’s ever lived and you’ve got to be prepared for the fact that, even if you do absolutely everything right, that they might just end up being a bit of a prick.
“In fact, doing everything perfectly can often mean that a kid never has to deal with any adversity, and then you run the risk of them being entitled, or arrogant.”
“So maybe the right thing to do is to do all the wrong things. I don’t have a clue really.
“The only thing that (I think) I know is that empathy is the number one skill I’ll be teaching. If they can always at least try and put themselves in the other person’s shoes, and see things from their point of view, then you’d like to think they’d never be mean to them.”