Bluey is must-see TV in my house—and not just for the kids. It’s funny, heartwarming, and incredibly endearing. Credit: Disney, Ludo Studio

Relationships

I Became a Better Dad When I Stopped Competing With Bluey

Caleb Mathis

9 mins

Am I really being out dad-ed by a blue dog with an Australian accent and a five o’clock shadow? Oh, biscuits!

Bluey isn’t just the best TV show in recent memory; it’s a cultural phenomenon. Its 150-episode library, available in the United States on Disney+, averages 1.19 billion minutes of viewership—every freakin’ week. Last year, Bluey was the second most streamed show across all platforms (right behind Netflix’s Suits), accounting for 29% of Disney’s TV views. Pretty dang impressive coming from a show whose average run time is 7 minutes.

Bluey is must-see TV in my house—and not just for the kids. It’s funny, heartwarming, and incredibly endearing. It lives on well past TV time. I know I can’t be the only dad playing keepy-uppy, magic xylophone, or dance mode in steady rotation, right?

I love it…but I didn’t always, though.

Bluey follows the average adventures of the Heeler family—a bunch of pups who relish everything from playing games in the backyard to dropping off recyclables and visiting cousins. Bluey and Bingo are sisters and the show’s stars, full of spunk, imagination, and unrelenting energy. Mom, Chilli, is the voice of reason, calm and empathetic. And then there’s Bandit, the dad. He’s fun, focused on his girls, and always ready to play.

And I used to hate him for it.

Don’t get me wrong—Bandit is an incredible dad…which is exactly why when we first started watching Bluey, I cringed every time he appeared on screen.

Bluey Disney Ludo Studio

What happened to the glory days of TV dads like Homer Simpson, Walter White, and Al Bundy? Didn’t choke your kid, cook meth, or ignore your family today? You’re one of the good ones!

Then comes Bandit, waltzing into our living room and making me feel like I’m on the bottom of the dad pile. Not having a high-scale drug operation in my basement used to be good enough, but then Bandit raised the bar even higher with his endless patience, 24/7 selfless attitude, and high capacity for fun at a moment’s notice. How am I supposed to compete with that?

The short answer? I’m not supposed to.

Bandit is a great dad, but he’s not a real one. He’s a blue dog, for crying out loud, and that’s not even the most unbelievable part. His job (as an archeologist—get it, cause dogs dig up bones) isn’t very demanding; his energy level is rarely depleted; he’s always got a smile and wisecrack.

Sorry, but that’s never been me.

I’m a perfectionist who never thinks he’s done enough at home or the office. I barely sleep and still get up early, so I’m starting to fade fast by dinner time. When I told my wife I got invited to join a team planning fun events at work, she accidentally laughed—let’s just say “serious” might be a more apt middle name for me. I spend most of my work days on creative tasks, so my creativity is tanking when I get home. Can we just eat, shower, and get to bed?

Bandit is an unrealistic standard against which to measure myself. When I do that, I’ll always lose. But I’m learning that maybe, just maybe, my attention has been turned in the wrong direction.

Bluey Disney Ludo Studio

The Old Testament, nearly two-thirds of the Bible written before Jesus was born, ends with the book of Malachi. In it, the prophet tells God’s people that they haven’t prioritized their relationship with Him, but all is not lost: God will intervene on their behalf.

In the last chapter, God (through Malachi) promises that the people who still revere God’s name will find their joy once more—and a Messiah will come. What is one of the markers that the Day of the Lord has arrived? He will “turn the hearts of fathers to their children” (Malachi 4:5-6).

So, while I’ve wasted time being mad at a blue dog for being a “better dad” than me, I think God’s been waiting for me to stop looking at myself and measuring my effectiveness against others (as if being a father is really about me in the first place?).

Of course, it’s not. It’s about the little people who call me Dad.

When my heart is turned toward my children—and not toward myself—God’s kingdom begins to take root in our home. Instead of getting mad at a cartoon for how it makes me feel about myself, I should have had my attention on my kids all along. Duh.

While writing this article, my oldest son went to sleep-away camp. He was gone for five days, leaving my wife and me with his twin sister and younger brother. We decided to have some mother-daughter and father-son time. For our time, my youngest son wanted to go camping.

Camping with my son!

I can’t say I was overly excited about it. The trip would have to happen in the middle of the work week, and we didn’t have the budget for it. I was already tired and overwhelmed and didn’t think I’d have much to offer.

But last night, we sat around a campfire together, tried to piece together the constellations from the stars we could see, built sandcastles on the edge of a lake, hunted for treasure, and stopped to pick up a tortoise.

As we got set to cook smores over the campfire, I asked my seven-year-old son about Bandit.

“Do you think Bandit is a good dad?”

“Yeah,” he answered, getting his s’more stick ready.

“What do you think makes him a good dad?”

“Hmmmm…he plays with Bluey and Bingo.”

“That’s a good answer. Anything else?”

He went quiet for about 30 seconds before answering emphatically, “Nope!”

The loud crash you just heard? That was the weight of expectations falling off my back.

Camping with my son!

While I had been measuring myself against a cartoon dog, thinking I wasn’t funny enough, energetic enough, or creative enough, my son only saw one attribute of Bandit at play: he was available.

Noted.

I’m no parenting expert, but at least for my three, there’s really the only one thing they want from me: time.

So I put it on the calendar, in concrete.

The best thing I’ve done as a dad this year has been to set aside half a day on Saturday to turn my heart to my kids. We call it ‘Dadurday’. (Honestly, I thought I had made that phrase up by combining “Dad” and “Saturday,” but Google is telling me differently. Biscuits!)

It’s very simple. On Saturday morning, the kids and I get up and go do something fun, leaving Mom to get some much-deserved sleep-in time. On the first Saturday of the month, you’ll find us at Home Depot doing the Free Kids Workshops (seriously, they’re amazing!). Recently, we’ve gotten into hiking at a nearby Nature Center. On Free Comic Book Day, we raided the local comic book store. Sometimes, we get donuts and go to the library; sometimes, we go to a park and play; sometimes, we hit the zoo or a museum.

What we do doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that my kids know Saturday is our time together. On a deeper level, Dadurday gives me a chance to engage in what the ancient prophet foretold would happen when the Messiah came. Being a dad means having the power to incarnate that ancient prophecy in my own home. Honestly, that’s pretty incredible.

My daughter's drawing of Bluey

Dads come in all sizes and shapes. I can’t write anything prescriptive that would apply to every dad reading this article, and I’m certainly in no position to give much advice except for what I believe scripture already says: when you turn your heart toward your kids, everyone wins.

Maybe what makes Bandit such a great dad isn’t his boundless energy, charisma, or creativity. Maybe it’s just because of how well he loves his kids. Maybe it really is that simple.

So I can cheer for Bandit now. And I can cheer for you, Dad, out there doing your thing to raise little warriors in this world. We’re not in competition. Instead, we’re all on the same team, learning to turn our hearts to our kids and give them the one thing they want most: us.

“The glory of children is their fathers.” - Proverbs 17:6

Here’s to you, Bandit. A good dad is worth a zillion dollarbucks. Just ask Bluey.


Disclaimer: This article is 100% human-generated.

Reflections to share? Got an idea for an article? Email us at articles@crossroads.net

Bluey photo credit: Ludo Studio

At Crossroads, we major on the majors and minor on the minors. We welcome a diverse community of people who all agree that Jesus is Lord and Savior, even if they view minor theological and faith topics in different ways based on their unique experiences. Our various authors embody that principle. Therefore, there are many viewpoints expressed in our articles that don’t necessarily fit with the opinions of our leadership. We are okay with that. And we think God is okay with that, too. The foundation of everything we do is a conviction that the Bible is true, and that accepting Jesus as who he said he was leads to a healthy life of purpose and adventure—and eternal life with God.

Caleb Mathis
Meet the author

Caleb Mathis

Dad of three, husband of one, pastor at Crossroads, and at the moment would rather be reading Tolkien, watching British TV, or in a pub with a pint of Guinness.

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