Best and Worst Dads in History: How Do You Stack Up?

June 7, 2023

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Your children may sometimes think you are a tyrant, but you have nothing on the men who were really despots and oppressors. Forget about ruling nations; you are the master of the little fiefdom known as your family. You are their protector and their provider, making sure all their needs are covered – from the everyday basics to thoughtfully drafted estate plans that will keep them safe and secure long after you are gone.

Hopefully, your children see you as the best dad in the world (the only opinion that matters). If you need proof, consider our list of the most appalling and appealing patriarchs from history:


FEARSOME FATHERS – Worst Dads in History


Like many other dads, Kadyrov wants his three sons to follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately for them, he is the fierce president of Russia’s Chechnya region, and he wants his sons to follow him into war. His sons are 14, 15, and 16, and their dear old dad claims to have sent them to the Ukraine front line in defiance of a U.N. treaty (signed by Russia) forbidding children under age 18 from fighting in war.

He is also in violation of an International Criminal Court statement that sending children under 15 into hostilities is a war crime. But Russia does not accept its authority.

Kadyrov posted a message on social media announcing that it was time his sons experienced a real battle so he was sending them off to get into one.


Khan’s kids gladly took up the family business of pillage and plunder after the murderous Mongolian ruler died in the 13th century. He has been blamed for up to 40 million deaths, a record they could not have matched. But they did try, conquering Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the parts of China that Khan had not gotten around to.

Khan was not much of a role model for his family; he was away on business quite a bit, and most of his children probably did not even know what he looked like. But his line continued for centuries; his last official ruling descendant was thrown off the throne in 1920. It is estimated that one in every 200 men today is a direct descendant of Khan.


The Soviet-era dictator is believed to have caused as many as 60 million deaths in the 1920s through mass murder, forced labor, famine, and political purges. And he was even crueler to his family.

His son, Yakov, tried and failed to commit suicide, which the unfeeling father dismissed by sneering, “He can’t even shoot straight.” Yakov joined the Red Army and fought against Germany in World war II; he was captured, so his father imprisoned Yakov’s wife and refused to trade a captured German officer for his own son, saying his rank was too low. Yakov was finally able to escape his father and his father’s cruelty by throwing himself against an electric fence in the concentration camp where he was being held.


When your father has a nickname like “the Terrible,” you must know you are not being raised by Ward Cleaver.

Ivan was one of Russia’s best-known czars, ruling from 1533 until his death in 1584. He is credited with expanding the nation’s borders and for exercising incredible cruelty to his nine children. He beat his pregnant daughter-in-law for wearing revealing clothing, causing her to miscarry. Her husband angrily confronted his father, who responded by striking his son on the head. The younger Ivan died a few years later, with the Czar praying for a miracle at his deathbed.


DEAREST DADS – Best Dads in History


One of the world’s most beloved puppeteers was also one of the world’s best-loved dads. Henson, creator of the Muppets and their starring roles on the landmark children’s television  show “Sesame Street,” had five children and their only complaint was that he did not spend enough time at home.

The children got more time with hm by joining his company. His son Brian and daughter Lisa are co-CEOs of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, which builds characters for films and movies. His daughter Cheryl is president of the Jim Henson Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes puppetry in the United States.


Back when fathers did not have to lift a finger to help raise their children, Darwin was right in the middle of his 10 children’s lives. To the world he is better known as the father of evolutionary theory, which holds that species evolve as nature selects favorable physical traits that will help them survive. He was dedicated to science and devoted to his children, two of whom died in infancy. Some have said he came up with the theory of evolution because he had lost faith after the deaths of his father and 10-year-old daughter Annie. Whatever happened to his faith in God, he never lost his faith in science.


The popular “Crocodile Hunter” met a gruesome end when he was fatally attacked by a stingray on the Great Barrier Reef in 2006. But he left a legacy of love for the earth and the creatures who inhabit it, especially his children. He once said that if he wanted to be remembered for anything, it was not for his work with wildlife or his TV shows but for being a good father.

He seems to have gotten his wish. His daughter, Irwin Bindi, who is emulating her father by taking up a career in nature conservation, called her late father “the greatest dad on earth.”

“We miss you so much,” she wrote, “and are extremely proud to be carrying on in your footsteps.”



Cain earned fame as a standout UK footballer and later as a reality TV star. He earned his way into fans’ hearts as the father who coped with the death of his infant daughter by raising money and awareness of childhood cancer.

Cain played for several UK teams until injury forced him to retire. He became a reality star and modeled for several fashion brands. When his daughter, Azaylia, passed away from leukemia at just 8 months old, he began campaigning for the fight against cancer and started The Azaylia Foundation to honor his daughter’s memory. He now takes part in various grueling physical and mental challenges – this time not for his own fame but for the memory of his daughter.


No dad is perfect, but who wants perfection? For most people, it is the flaws and the imperfections that make their fathers so lovable. Relax, hug your dad and have a wonderful Father’s Day!


Estate Planning Is No Time for DIY, Dad

We all know dads who love to build things and tinker with fix-it projects. Some of them even know what they are doing! Unless you are one of the highly trained attorneys at OC Estate & Elder Law, estate planning is not a weekend project you work on in the garage. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or to get started with a free phone consultation with an expert. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish, and Russian.