Every dad should want to be like Clark Griswold

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Every dad should be like Clark Griswold
Christmas Tree
Every dad should be like Clark Griswold
Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

Clark Griswold, a fictional character created by National Lampoon and portrayed by Chevy Chase. The ultimate winner of the dad of the year and also the worst dad ever.  His crazy antics and mishaps make you want to cringe but the love he shows for his family and his tireless efforts to make his family happy makes him an unlikely role model for dads everywhere. 

With the holidays fast approaching I always watch my favorite Christmas movie is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It has me thinking more and more about how Clark Griswold is actually a model dad and most dads might like to be just like him.

But why would any dad want to be like Clark Griswold? 

Well, here are some of my reasons every dad should want to be like Clark Griswold.

He wants everyone around him to be happy

Clark Griswold loves to see others happy. Even if it means his life will be a living hell. He plans a grand trip across the country to go to Wally World. He goes on a game show and wins his family a trip to Europe. He even plans a big traditional family Christmas at his own house.

When things go wrong he grits his teeth and pushes through just to try and keep everyone around him happy. Dads do this often. They pull up their bootstraps and grit their teeth and take care of whatever needs to be taken care of to make their family happy. When you become a dad it is no longer about what you want but it’s about what is best for your family and how can I make them happy.

This doesn’t mean you don’t get to be happy. It just changes what makes you happy. I know now one of the things that makes me happy is when my family is taken care of and when they are happy. I just get to sit back and enjoy them and the love that goes around.

He loves what he does for a living

When you hear Clark Griswold talk about his job, you know he loves his job. He takes pride in what he does and talks about it when he can. Even though his boss doesn’t share his enthusiasm, Clark always tries to be the best at what he does.

Every dad should love what they do for a living. If you hate your job that can seep into your family life and cause you to have a miserable home life. If you are in a situation where you hate your job, take the time and see if you can start a new career. 

He wants to instill a rich tradition in his family

Texas Christmas Tree
Texas Christmas Tree

In the movie Christmas Vacation, the opening scene is probably my favorite. Clark Griswold is taking his family to get a Christmas tree. He doesn’t want a fake Christmas tree, he doesn’t want a tree that can be bought of a lot. He wants to go out and cut down a real tree and give his family that experience.

Even later in the movie, he wants to have a big family Christmas and share the love with his family. Although it hilariously falls apart, he still manages to bring everyone together in the end.

Tradition is such a great thing. It doesn’t mean things can’t change, but sometimes just remembering the good times you had with previous generations and wanting to pass those things on to your kids is a great thing. But remember don’t keep traditions alive just so you can be happy, be flexible and change when the need arises.

He knows how to take a loss

If there was ever a dad who can take a loss and roll with the punches, it is Clark Griswold. This man will take a 2×4 to the nose and keep going. He will launch his car off a snow pile and still take his family to cut down a Christmas tree. 

We all know that this is part of the joke of the character. Bad things happen to him, and they are funny and sometimes make you cringe a little. But every time Clark Griswold gets up and keeps on moving. Yes, sometimes he goes a little crazy and goes into a tirade. But in the end, he presses on and tries to pretend as nothing happened.

How many times has something happened to you and you felt like you wanted to give up? I know when I try to do anything handyman related I seem to fail miserably. But I don’t give up. I keep going and if I get stuck I reach out for help.  The next time something goes horribly wrong think of how Clark Griswold would have handled that situation.

He doesn’t let money get in the way of happiness.

Clark Griswold seemed like he made good money. But when he traveled he always seemed to run into issues that required more money. Whether it was people overcharging him for car repairs or purchasing a new car to take the family on a grand trip Clark didn’t spare a dime.

I’m not saying you should go crazy and spend all of your money to make your family happy. But there will be times in your life where a decision will have to be made and you may think that it costs too much to go on that vacation. But I will say I never regretted taking my family on vacation. Every trip we budgeted accordingly but there were a few times I really wanted to treat my family so I splurged a little on the trip.

Always optimistic 

Do you remember the scene where Clark Griswold is walking through the desert and has all the hope in the world that he will find help? He doesn’t give up he keeps on pressing through. Clark also has the false optimism that his great traditional family Christmas gathering will be a wonderful event.

The optimism that Clark shows in the movies is one that I am extremely jealous of. He always has the naive thought that when he makes a plan it will work out in his favor. Knowing what we know and watching the movies we know that his optimism is his downfall. But you can’t help but love his enthusiasm.

I’m a big-time pessimist. I rarely see the good in things and honestly go into most situations with the thought that it will not work out in my favor. But I’m working on that. I’m trying to go in with a more positive mindset. Being optimistic doesn’t mean you think you will always win, it just means you believe things will be in your favor.

He is not afraid to get involved

Sledding like Clark Griswold
Sledding like Clark Griswold

One of the most underrated scenes in Christmas Vacation is the snow sledding scene. Clark puts on some super slick coating on a snow disc. Then he tries it out as he flies down the hill and crashes eventually.

Clark Griswold loves getting involved and doing things with his kids and other kids around him. He doesn’t just sit back and watch the kids play. He becomes a kid himself.

When you see your kids playing, get involved. Unless you are physically unable to do so get in there and play with them. Play some tag with them, play hide and seek, play red light/green light with them. Don’t be that dad that just sits back in a chair and watches. Be the dad that gets dirty and gets involved.

His love doesn’t stop with his family

In Christmas Vacation Clark quickly realizes cousin Eddy and his wife don’t have any extra money to get their kids gifts. In pure open hearted Griswold fashion he offers to get the kids gifts to help out. Of course, cousin Eddy obliges with not only a big list but also a list for his wife.

Even though Clark despises Eddy and would probably wish Eddy would just disappear he still wants those kids to be happy. None of the other grandparents offered to help. Clark was in financial trouble until he got his bonus. But he still offered to make sure those kids were happy.

This is another way you can be a better dad. Love others as if they are your own family. If you can’t find a family to help out in a time of need there are always programs you can donate to and get your kids involved. Show your kids that your love doesn’t just stop at your immediate family.

The Lampoon Vacation movies are some of my all-time favorite comedies. Clark Griswold is the epitome of the family man. He is always trying to take his family on that ultimate vacation whether it be on the road or at home.

If you want to be like Clark Griswold make sure you follow his good traits. He does have some bad traits, such as a propensity to do foolish things in the face of adversity or the occasional skinny dip with the mysterious stranger. Try to love your family, get involved, and stay optimistic.

Is there anything else you see in Clark Griswold that you value? If so drop a comment or let us know on our Facebook page.


  1. Thoughtful analysis of how Clark Griswold can be a role model for Dads. I never connected some of these things before- stories are such a powerful way to make a point! Thanks for sharing.

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