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Celebrating our dads through the decades

Posted on 14 June 2018

How a dad’s life has changed over the years

It’s time to pay homage to our very first heroes. Our dads.

These days, most dads are pretty comfortable looking after the kids and generally making themselves useful around the house (although some may pretend otherwise!).

But not so long ago, things were very different. A father’s role was as breadwinner, disciplinarian and repairman.

For most of us over 50, early memories of bath times and tea times will be of mum in charge. Even the most ‘hands on’ dad back then wasn’t expected to pitch in with the nitty gritty of looking after the kids. Playing the fool with the kids was another story…

So to celebrate great dads everywhere, past and present, we’re taking a fond look at how a dad’s life has changed over the years.

No mopping mum’s brow

Childbirth was a far cry from cutting the cord! Until only a few decades ago, fathers were banned from the birth and would head to the pub to wait for news. Even when the baby arrived, dad couldn’t hold the newborn for “hygiene” reasons.

All about earning a crust

Keeping a roof over the family’s head and food on the table was what dad took great pride in. Clocking in day in day out (heaven help us if he lost his card!), his pay packet went straight to mum and, fingers crossed, there was enough left for ‘Saturday Sixpence’ pocket money.

father clocking in to work
Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

Daddy daycare

Daddy daycare was a long way off. A father wasn’t expected to be heavily involved in childcare. Instead, after a long, hard day’s work, he might head to the allotment or go for a pint with the lads, before heading home to a cooked meal.

father pulling three young children in a wooden wheelbarrow
Allan Cash Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo

Strict discipline

Mum might have been at home with the kids all day, but it was dad who wagged the finger and kept us in check. You never answered back. Remember the dread you felt when mum said: "Just you wait ‘til your father gets home?"

The driver of the household

Dad did the driving and the car was his pride and joy. On Sunday afternoons, fathers across the country would roll up their sleeves and pull out the chamois (and occasionally give us a few pennies to help).

Carving was man’s work

Today, there’s nothing unusual about a man in the kitchen, but it used to be a novelty to see a father cooking. The closest most dads got to preparing a meal was carving the joint – that was man's work!

father carving the meat at a family dinner
ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo

Fun, fun, fun

No change here. Dads have always been big kids at heart and fantastic playmates. Putting together train sets, giving piggy-backs, kicking a ball about or paddling in the sea (still in their jackets!). Guess who probably enjoyed it more?

father with his young daughter floating a boat in the sea
Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

…and all round super star

Whatever was broken , dad knew how to fix it. It was very rare to have to ‘get a man in’. As kids, it seemed like he was capable of making or mending anything – but especially bicycles - just because he was dad.

young boy on his fathers shoulders
Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

In honour of Father’s Day, we want to celebrate dads, grandads and all those before them. So, we’d love to hear your memories of your dad or your own experiences of being a father.

If you’ve enjoyed our fond take on the first man in our lives, you might also like our celebration of mums, or our nostalgic look back at playing outdoors or the toys of the 1950s and 1960s.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, equity release, pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife? 

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

The funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Ltd which is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.