Mark Woods: Prince puts real dads back in style

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Modern day fatherhood as we now know it began when the lights came on.

The industrial revolution saw swathes of families leave their rural, hand to mouth existences behind and head to the bright lights of the rapidly expanding cities. And it was the new fangled lights in particular which made a difference to the family dynamic. When you’re working the fields it’s dark when it’s dark.

The entire family goes to bed at sundown and gets up with the sparrow’s you know what.But the onset of artificial light and the mills and factories it illuminated brought with it shifts and working practices that saw the man of the house separated from the rest of the family.

So began the process that saw all too many fathers tragically divorced from the raising of their own children.

Many decades later, this had turned into the “wait until your father gets home” war cry where the transformation of fathers from family member to bogey man, invoked to inspire fear and instil discipline by proxy was complete.

Mercifully, the undoing of this sad situation began 30 odd years ago albeit initially having to wade through the derisory “new man” tag and latterly the “silly daddy” syndrome seen in many a children’s TV show.

Nevertheless ,though pushing a pram or even, heaven forfend, wearing a baby sling has become acceptable behaviour for a male of the species to exhibit in public – fatherhood has been partially reclaimed, to the extent that people actually buy the kind of fatherhood books I’ve written, which is a miracle beyond compare.

The interview given by Prince William this week signals that this slow process is about to be given a boost by a future monarch who isn’t only prepared to change a nappy and fit a car seat, but who will also talk about the emotional bombshell having a baby unleashes on us all, regardless of gender.

Just as his mother did dispelling the stigma around AIDS and its victims, so the Prince’s first few public moments on his foray into fatherhood have sparked much debate and begun what feels remarkably like it could turn into a Daddy detente.

Twitter @mark_r_woods