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Bad Dads

As the national holiday approaches when we honor our dads with golf paraphernalia and neckties, it seems appropriate to consider some simple guidelines for fatherhood — the do’s but mostly the don’ts — as found in literature.

In the following selection of novels, bad parenting comes in surprisingly diverse forms. There’s comically bad, violently bad, pathetically bad and so bad that one understands the desires of child stars to invoke legal action and remove the offending parentage altogether. There are dads who abuse their children with physical blows, others who humiliate their children with their immaturity and awkward behavior, and some who are just too busy having existential crises to do anything useful.

Parenting may well be a flawed enterprise but it takes a certain level of reproductive evil to reach the bad-dadness of, say, Titus Andronicus. Of course, most of us are fortunate enough to have much better, nicer and more supportive parents, and for that we must give thanks this Father’s Day.

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