When right-wing commentator and TV host John Cardillo tweeted his disdain for a portrait of presidential candidate and former U.S. vice president Joe Biden kissing his son, the Internet responded in the most beautiful way.
The photo shows Biden holding his youngest son, 50-year-old Hunter Biden, and kissing him on the cheek. On seeing the black-and-white portrait, Cardillo took to Twitter to ask his 270,000 followers: “Does this look like an appropriate father/son interaction to you?” He followed up with a tweet saying, “Good morning to everyone except the creepy Bidens and their creepy staged pics.”
The response from Liz Plank, a Canadian (but U.S.-based) journalist and the author of “For the Love of Men: From Toxic To A More Mindful Representation,” was to invite men to “reply with a picture of their dad holding them.”
Can men reply to this thread with a picture of their dad holding them? https://t.co/0Z0ucwIdAe
— Liz Plank (@feministabulous) October 22, 2020
And the Internet delivered:
“He passed away 4 years ago, and he was a champion for me and my recovery from an opiate addiction,” recalled Twitter user @keithmbrennan.
He passed away 4 years ago, and he was a champion for me and my recovery from an opiate addiction. He’s brag about me when I was a bartender and later when I turned my life around. I miss him dearly.@JoeBiden’s texts to Hunter reminded me of my dad for that I’m forever grateful. pic.twitter.com/Yw3bKe4I3n
— Keith Brennan (@keithmbrennan) October 22, 2020
Biochemist and professor @DrKyle shared this sweet father-son nap shot:
“My father passed long ago. We often embraced each other and would kiss on the cheek,” wrote Twitter user Lorenzo T Flores. “Boy do I wish I could hold him again...”
My father passed long ago. We often embraced each other and would kiss on the cheek.
While I have pictures of us later in life, during my late teen years, this picture was readily available.
Boy do I wish I could hold him again... pic.twitter.com/8ulfmv1F1x
— Lorenzo T Flores 🇺🇲 (@lorigga) October 22, 2020
And from @Anvil44: “My dad just before he died, with my brother. I wish I had one with me.”
My dad just before he died with my brother. I wish I had one with me. pic.twitter.com/wE053gRc77
— Matt McClellan (@Anvil44) October 22, 2020
Then there was this sweet share from Twitter user Daniel Brennan, who talks about how the men in his family are slowly chipping away at stereotypes of masculinity, from one generation to the next:
My dad wasn't super physically affectionate with me, but he was more affectionate than his father. I am way more affectionate with my son.
I have no doubt he loved me. It's my mission that my son knows that he is loved as well. Unabashedly unconditionally loved. pic.twitter.com/62DaAzW6Uc
— Daniel Brennan (@ripplepig) October 22, 2020
This photo posted by David Aus dates back to 1968 and captures an adorable moment of a dad snuggling not one but three sons.
Dad reading to my brothers and me pic.twitter.com/bwIinwvWcr
— David Aus (@David_Aus) October 22, 2020
A loving memory from Jim Fantini: “He always said goodbye with a kiss and an I love you. Miss him terribly but his lessons stay with me as I try to be a good dad.”
Not quite him holding me, but it was his last visit to the ocean and I love this shot. He always said goodbye with a kiss and an I love you. Miss him terribly but his lessons stay with me as I try to be a good dad pic.twitter.com/GEwubu3Udb
— Jim Fantini (@jimf27) October 22, 2020
Another sweet dad’s kiss and a delighted son, which @O_PIN_unated added to the heartwarming thread:
And the only thing better than napping in its own right has to be napping while holding your dad’s hand. (Via Carmine Covelli)
Me and my pop holding hands while napping on vacation in Avalon, NJ. pic.twitter.com/P87MgfTCYP
— Carmine Covelli (@carminecovelli) October 22, 2020
Babi Guling shared this historic cuddle with Dad, snapped at Nixon’s inauguration parade in 1973:
Nixon inauguration parade 1973. pic.twitter.com/ERKPUGKN35
— Babi Guling (@WillNotBDanide) October 22, 2020
As well as this vintage father-son hug, between Joe Biden and his son:
And by the way check out this pic of Biden pic.twitter.com/EBoYVd508a
— Babi Guling (@WillNotBDanide) October 22, 2020
This nostalgic post, from Eric Schrader, provides a sweet demo of the classic dad-son nose rub.
My dad and I when I was a kid. He thought me so much and there was nobody else quite like him. Spend time with your family, no regrets. pic.twitter.com/sE9Hycyewi
— Eric Schrader (@eschraderMB) October 22, 2020
Below, a fine example of how the dad-hug gene is passed from one generation to the next. (Via Luis)
And this papa-bear hug, submitted by Josh Rangel is so adorable. “I hold my dad every chance I get,” Rangel wrote.
I hold my dad every chance I get pic.twitter.com/hRgA79GQm2
— Josh Rangel (@rangelie) October 22, 2020
This pic is compelling evidence that man hugs are totally natural and can begin when a son is young, like still-in-diapers young. (Via Alex Plank)
This pic (below) has to be one of the most dapper dad-son submissions. (Via @bhuntleyfilms)
— TNC Movie Premiere 10/25 #DATDAMNBOBBY (@bhuntleyfilms) October 22, 2020
And this snapshot from @platypusrex is a reminder that dad sweaters make dad hugs even cozier.
My hair is crazy but this is me and my dad pic.twitter.com/3utAj5QamZ
— Joshua the Platypus (@platypusrex256) October 23, 2020
Last but not least, for the ultimate bonding experience, remember there’s nothing quite like hugging-while-twinning with Dad. 👯♂️(Via Stephan Lee)
Ridiculing men for showing affection towards their sons plays into toxic masculinity. As this wholesome thread of dad-and-son-hug pics clearly showed, boys thrive when their dads show them love. They are happier and more grounded for it.
So where to begin if your dad was a not-so-affectionate type? As Jeff Perera explained in this article for HuffPost Canada, if men struggle to show their emotions, particularly to other men, they should “start with words, then work up to deeds and actions to express love.”
Perera put this challenge to men trapped by old stereotypes of what it means to be a man. “How about a real hug instead of a bro hug? How about telling your buddy you need to talk? How about not changing topics when your buddy opens up?” The same applies, of course, to how a father interacts with his son.
A hug between a parent and their child should not be controversial. A hug gives comfort. It shows love. And when a dad shows affection to his son, it lays the foundation for boys to grow up to be nurturing, caring, self-assured, expressive and loving men.
The world needs those.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost Canada and has been updated.