Meet the new breed of celebrity dads ripping up the 'strong and silent' rulebook

·6 min read

Watch: 10 celebrity dads that melt our hearts

Suave James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan has always been far from the strong, silent spy in real life. When it comes to his adult kids, he's driven by adoration not adrenalin, regularly posting loving tributes and messages to his brood on social media.

Tragically, daughter Charlotte died from ovarian cancer in 2013, and since, Brosnan has been even more open in talking about his love and admiration for children Christopher, Sean, Dylan and Paris.

Today, the Cinderella star posted a touching celebratory Instagram post to Sean, who turns 38 today, writing "Happy birthday Sean, we have traveled so far together my dear son. I am so proud of the man and father you have become and the son that I hold in my heart always. Love, Dad."

Brosnan and son Sean on Instagram.
Brosnan and son Sean on Instagram.

He's not alone in his open-hearted appreciation for his children. While in previous eras, male celebrities barely acknowledged the existence of their offspring publicly, lest it impact their heart-throb status, the new breed of famous dads are happy to heap paternal praise, posting on Instagram, sharing cute videos and talking lovingly about their children in interviews.

The new mega-dads include footballer turned multi-millionaire businessman David Beckham,, who regularly shares photos and affection for children Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper online.

Watch: David Beckham begs daughter Harper, 10, not to leave him on first day of school

He recently told People Magazine, "In my career there’s many things I’ve won, and many things I’ve achieved, but for me my greatest achievement is my children and my family."

This week he posted a message to Harper on Instagram, along with a photo of them eating breakfast together on her first day back at school.

'A little nervous, but the good news is, very happy,' Beckham wrote, accompanied by heart emojis. 'Go have fun, pretty lady'. He also tagged wife Victoria in the sweet message.

Read more: Physical play with dads could help children control their emotions, new research finds

Even President Joe Biden often references his love for his children - he talks about his grief for late son Beau and daughter Naomi who died as a baby, and shares his love for Hunter, Ashley and his seven grandchildren.

Obama, too, is an extremely proud dad to Sasha and Malia, recently saying, "I had no doubt the minute I saw that little creature with those big eyes looking up at me, I said, 'My goodness. I will do anything for you,'" and he felt it again, he added, when Sasha was born in 2001.

Britain's Prince Harry (R) and former U.S. President Barack Obama watch a wheelchair basketball event during the Invictus Games in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 29, 2017.    REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Swapping parenring tips? (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Even the dads with the toughest images are opening up, with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson recently writing "Carry our family name proudly, but your road will always be yours to create, earn & own. So proud. Live your dream. Let’s work." to his daughter Simone on social media, and sharing an adorable video of him singing along to 'You're welcome', his song in Pixar's Moana for his youngest daughter Tiana. He added that spending more time with her in lockdown had been 'a real silver-lining blessing.'

Prince Harry is one of the most vocal mega-dads since leaving The Firm, calling the birth of son Archie, 2, "amazing. Absolutely incredible. I’m so incredibly proud of my wife. As every father and parent would ever say, your baby is absolutely amazing," he went on, "but this little thing is absolutely to die for. So I’m just over the moon.”

Harry has taken a lengthy five-month paternity leave to spend time with baby Lilibet too, intending that he gets to know his children fully - and has criticised the arms-length royal method of fathering of the past, and expressed his desire to do it better.

A new clip of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who�s pregnant with their second child after Archie, during their bombshell tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey after quitting their Royal Job, shows Meghan, Duchess of Sussex finally feeling free and ready to talk about being blocked from having her voice by royal aides. The clip aired on CBS This Morning ahead of premiere on US network on Sunday night. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Harry, Meghan and Archie (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)

So do the mega-dads have the right idea - and are we finally leaving behind the strong-and-silent role models of past eras?

"The research shows us that responsive parenting helps to support the development of the brain in the first 1000 critical days of life," says parenting expert Emma Gasking of The Parent Education Company. "This creates the blueprint for that child for the rest of their life so it is a vital period.

"As a father, if you are 'strong and silent' - ie unresponsive - you create learned helplessness in the child, which is known as 'insecure attachment.'" She adds.

"This means they are likely to be more clingy, unsure, and less independent than their peers, which has a knock-on effect on every aspect of their life.

Watch: The Rock and his daughter sing from 'Moana'

"In contrast, by praising your child and responding to them you create an independent, secure child who is more easily able to handle their own emotions - again this carries into every area for the rest of their lives."

It's not enough just to post praise on social media, though, parenting expert and motivational teacher Gail Hugman of humanatcore warns the mega-dads. They need to do plenty of it in real life, too.

"Young children’s brains are in the process of developing neural pathways and for positive and best results, they need parent confirmation as part of that process," she says.

Read more: David Schwimmer offers refreshing advice on fatherhood on Jessie Ware's podcast

"When a parent sees a positive step in the right direction and offers praise, it boosts the child’s confidence. Without a father’s confirmation, the child cannot be sure the pathways their brain is creating are correct and they are more inclined to lack confidence because of it."

It seems the celebs are on the right track. But what can all dads do to ensure they give children the best start - and keep on supporting them all the way?

father and daughter laughing in bedroom
Dads can help build their children's confiidence. (Getty Images)

Parenting mentor Laura Linklater works with families to break damaging cycles and runs the Facebook Community of Cycle Breakers. She says, "every home is different. Every dad is different. Everyone has their own ways of showing they love and feeling that they are loved - and children need just a few core things from their dads."

She works with the idea of 'the 4 Ss', first noted in the book The Power of Showing Up.

"Safe, Seen, Soothed and Secure," she explains. "You don’t need to get it right every time – that’s just not possible. It’s not about perfection," she adds, but advises that dads try to make children feel:

Safe – "from outside harm like running into the road, or from the fear of a scary parent who shouts loudly or is under the influence of drink or drugs."

Seen - "by really listening to their stories and their worries (preferably without a phone or other distraction around)."

Soothed - "by offering a hug when they are scared or sad or injured, then they will become..."

Secure - "that their dad is always there for them, and that they are worthy of love."

Watch: Cutest celeb daddy-daughter moments