Dad culture has become an overall cultural phenomenon. It has infiltrated the clothing, entertainment, and even the meme industry. But there is a very unique sub-dad-culture that is exclusive to one part of the United States: the South. The dads who inhabit this region are truly a marvel in and of themselves. However, this unique dad culture can only be understood through insider knowledge. Southern dads do not dance on TikTok like the dad of the West Coast or make it on the news for starting fist fights at a Celtics game like the dads of the North. Southern dads tend to lay low. I’d like to offer y’all a rare look inside the well-kept secret of true southern dad culture.
The Born and Raised Dad
I had the pleasure of being raised by The Born and Raised Dad. He is the walking stereotype of a southern gentleman—he owns multiple pairs of loafers, drinks Bud Light and Johnny Walker exclusively, is contractually obligated to yell, “Go Dawgs!,” when passing anyone wearing a UGA logo, and is physically incapable of using the phrase “you guys.”
To be in the presence of The Born and Raised Dad, is to be in the presence of southern royalty. He walks a little taller, annunciates his “y’alls” a little louder, and swings his golf club a little harder. He likes to milk this status. Sometimes a little too much. The Born and Raised Dad can somehow weave a story about his “Daddy’s Daddy” into a conversation about the Israeli, Palestinian conflict. Just smile and nod and let him have his moment, because this is what he lives for.
The ultimate life goal for The Born and Raised Dad though is to have a son whom he can mold into a future Born and Raised Dad. Fun fact: the infant loafer was invented by a Born and Raised Dad. Unfortunately for my Born and Raised Dad, I am a girl and his only child. It wasn’t until I went to a college that pulls from students all over the U.S. that I learned that most girls do not drink scotch, smoke cigars, and tell guys they can “bend over and shove it” when arguing about football offensive strategies. Now, I’m a humor writer for a southern men’s brand, which has officially earned me the title of “The Son My Dad Always Wanted.” Thank you BeerLife!
The Never Left College Dad
There is something so infectious yet sad about The Never Left College Dad. On the one hand, he’s just a big ole kid. On the other hand, he’s just a big ole kid.
The Never Left College Dad peaked the moment he pledged SAE. Should a guy mention that they are in college, The Never Left College Dad emits his knee-jerk response: “What you go? SAE? Phi Delt? Sigma Chi? Or you one of those Sigma Nu, Phi Kapp losers?” Should you tell him that you in fact did not join a fraternity, his face will drop then he will go off on a rant about how you are really missing out on a “brotherhood.” He and his brothers, Fat Aub, Frank the Tank, and Buddy Light, still regularly hangout.
The Never Left College Dad flourishes during football season, which to him is actually tailgate season. You will not find him at the alumni tailgate though. Sipping on expensive beer and talking to his once college peers about their job in accounting is of no interest to him. To find The Never Left College Dad, you must go to a fraternity tailgate. There you will be able to witness him and three other 47-year-old men play beer pong with each other while current SAE pledges watch them and think “I want to be like them when I grow up.”
These college pledges though are not aware of the dedication that goes into being The Never Left College Dad. To be The Never Left College Dad, one must dedicate their lives to maintaining a fragile balance between functioning alcoholism and full-blown addiction. One must simultaneously hold a steady job and reject the notion of being a corporate sellout. One must not only take on the role of a father, but also the drunk uncle to their own children. Think you have what it takes to be The Never Left College Dad? If so, visit your local college bar and submit your application to the 40-year-old man buying shots for underage kids.
The Baptist Dad
These guys should honestly just get “That’s not very Christian of you” permanently tattooed on their foreheads. The Baptist Dad has made it his duty in life to shove southern gospel down anyone’s throats. He can turn any fun gathering into an unasked for sermon. I once had the pleasure of attending a dinner with The Baptist Dad, and I made the mistake of mentioning that South Park is my all-time favorite TV show. Here’s a rough transcript of the conversation that followed:
The Baptist Dad: Is that the adult cartoon about sinful children?
Me: It’s actually one of the most genius forms of satire. They use the most bizarre humor to-
The Baptist Dad (interrupting): So you think it’s funny that they show children, who God intended to be pure, doing horrible things?
Me: I don’t think it’s funny. I think it’s hilarious.
The Baptist Dad: Why’s that?
Me: I can show you my senior rhetorical thesis that I wrote on the “Crack Baby Athletic Association” episode where I break down how the show actually is using strategic humor to critique both sides of the issues they bring up.
The Baptist Dad: Darling, where did you go to college?
Me: Texas Christian University.
The Baptist Dad: Well, that hurts my soul.
Once the dinner was over, The Baptist Dad pulled me aside and proceeded to break down the reasons why he is worried for my soul. Bro, so am I. But life is way more fun when I ignore it.
The Baptist Dad ultimately means well—I have no doubt that The Baptist Dad I encountered genuinely was afraid for me. Or maybe he’s just afraid of me. Either way, he is scared. The Baptist Dad’s life revolves around fear, whether it be for souls, the rapture, iPhones, rap music, etc. This is all due to the fact that, out of all the southern dads, The Baptist Dad is the most caught up in southern tradition. He likes his wife how he likes his steak seasoning: not too spicy. He likes his children how he likes his dog: well bred and well trained. He likes his life how he likes his church: aggressively Christian. There is no changing him. So, do as I say, not as I did and just keep your mouth shut when The Baptist Dad whips out his bible.
The Silent Dad
I kid you not when I say that this man will go through a five course meal and the only words he utters are “This steak is overcooked.” I have seen this with my own eyes. The Silent Dad abides by the rule of “If you have nothing to say, say nothing.” Though he will never admit it, he probably has the most to say out of anyone at the dinner table. The issue is that most of what he has to say is pretty unpleasant.
This is probably due to the fact that The Silent Dad is often married to the type of southern wife that I like to refer to as the “Woo-Hoo Wife” and has kids who have tattoos and listen to NPR. So, instead of speaking his mind when his wife kisses the waiter, who just brought her her fifth mojito, on the cheek or when his son talks about to applying to NYU, The Silent Dad simmers in his disapproval. About every two months, The Silent Dad fully speaks his mind, and it is truly terrifying. It is a release of pent up anger that was passed down to him from his own Silent Dad, a generational anger, if you will.
The Silent Dad prefers the company of fellow Silent Dads over pretty much anyone. A group of Silent Dads is actually called a “punishment.” They get together and partake in same the activities that most southern dads enjoy, watching SEC football, drinking light beer, and complaining about their wives. But, The Silent Dad grunts instead of yelling when their team gets a penalty, he finds cheersing beers to be an excessive display of comradery, and he can fully communicate his deep loathing for his wife with just one eye roll. The one thing that The Silent Dad truly enjoys though is talking politics. So, if you feel like making The Silent Dad’s day, just say the words “George Bush” or “Hillary Clinton,” and you’ll forever have a special place in his heart.
The Backwoods Dad
Let’s get one thing straight: The Backwoods Dad is not a “redneck.” You can find rednecks anywhere, Northern Illinois, the California desert, and I even think a redneck population has recently been identified in the Southern region of Alaska. The Backwoods Dad is exclusively located in the Southeast region of the United States.
The term “Backwoods Dad” derives from the fact that he resides outside of the city or the suburbs (I completely made that up). He lives life surrounded by the best part of the south: its nature. He is the Henry David Thoreau of the south, if you will. While the other southern dads are caught up in HOA disputes and choosing which polo shirt to wear on the golf course, The Backwoods Dad is teaching his kids to fish.
The Backwoods Dad is hands down the most fun out of all the southern dads. There’s no excuse to be bored when you’re with him. He’s the cool dad who owns a four wheeler and cusses in front of you. He’ll also give you your first beer because what kind of serious trouble can you get into on twenty acres of land?
We actually can credit a lot of southern dad culture to The Backwoods Dad. Without him, there would be no tailgating, bonfires, bar-b-ques, or jorts. This culture would be extremely bland without him. It would just be made up of khaki shorts, bible thumpers, and overly intense college football rivalries. So, do me a favor and go thank your local Backwoods Dad for all that he has done to make the south fun.