Men, tell me about your father

Various issues have brought the lack of my father’s involvement in my life into focus for me lately.

Mine never taught me to shave.
Mine never taught me to tie a necktie.

I’d like to introduce “never*” into the dialog. The asterisk denotes that on a technicality, it may not quite be true but on second thought, maybe it is. Yet it doesn’t confer full-credit, somehow. So use that asterisk if it suits your situation.

E.g. Mine never* took me to a pro baseball game.
Actually, we did go to a ballgame but he rode along as a chaperone with my Little League team. He didn’t organize it or drive it or go out of his way to make it happen, despite my brother and I begging him. So, partial credit?

What things make him stand out as a hero? What do you wish he’d helped you with? And for those of you who are fathers of sons, what have you carried forward with your sons and where did you see need for improvement?

My father is always there for me. He loves me unconditionally and shows it. He’s great with a joke, and he’s almost always in a good mood. He’s a great people person and he’s never judgmental.

With that said, he never gave me ‘the talk.’ He didn’t push hard enough for me to be independent. He didn’t* teach me how to shave, although he did try to teach me how to do a necktie.

All in all, I give him a 9/10 :slight_smile:

My father had as little involvement with his five children as possible. Teaching me to shave? Tie a necktie? Take me to a sports game? Hah! That’s a laugh.

The only think he did was teach me how to write a constitution to take control of the high school government. (Which I did.)

OK, so I’ve had a drink or [del]two[/del] three, and maybe my comprehension skills are dulled. I’m not entirely sure I understand what you’re after. I will give it a try:

Although I love my father very much and still look up to him (I am 35), I don’t think he has ever really been proud of me. He is a very blue collar guy, and I am a white collar worker. I think, deep down, he thinks I have a fake job. He is probably not too far off. I don’t think he believes I “work” the way he did. He’s right in a sense. I don’t have his strength. I recently finished my MBA. While he’s proud of me in the abstract, because he realizes I put forth a lot of effort, he does not place any particular value on this accomplishment. I have become the kind of management prick he always fought against. He was a union man, and he made a living with his muscles. I sit in an office. We love each other, but we will never really understand each other.

He’s a great dad, and a great guy. But there’s just this gap we’re not likely to bridge. He’s 78 now, so time, unfortunately, is not on our side.

(underlining mine) Dude, I’m all over this. It’s funny (peculiar)…doesn’t every generation want the following one to do a little better etc., yet when they do, there’s resentment? :confused:

My dad has always provided a quiet but good example to me in appreciating a joke, working hard, being true to my mom, being a good citizen, planning for the future, and being available to talk to when I needed his advice. He taught me how to shave, how to tie a necktie, how to paddle a canoe, how to hit a baseball, how to ride a bike, and a zillion other things. I followed in his career footsteps to a large extent without ever feeling pressured to do so. He was very generous in supporting me financially throughout my education.

On the downside, I must admit he was always far more interested in sports (esp. football, tennis and basketball) than I was, growing up, and there were times when I wished he’d wanted to spend time with me rather than play or watch yet another game with other grownups, but that’s a pretty minor criticism all in all. The only one I can come up with, actually.

I have three sons of my own now, and find that I can’t go too far wrong using my own father as a model for good parenting.

Maybe not resentment, just… lack of understanding? Not sure. I’ll try to come up with a better phrase when I’m sober.

I guess to the rest of the world, Dad was just another guy, but I always thought he was a darn good father. He praised me when I did well. He smacked me when I was bad. Took me to my first ballgame (Cardinals vs Cubs), but I was a disappointment in that I never much cared about sports. But he also taught me how much Vitalis to put in my hair and how to comb it - that all seems so hilarious now. You don’t hit anybody first, but you sure as hell hit them back. Taught me to tie my tie (and what you had to do when you got your tie caught in your zipper). Got my sex education from him, complete with diagrams and lists of both euphemistic and socially unacceptable alternate terms for various naughty bits. Taught me how to shave (so that’s what that styptic thingie is for). He encouraged my independence; once I was out of high school he’d ask “When the hell you movin’ out, boy?” every night at dinner. So I did. We got along pretty well. I admired him and he was proud of me. He thought I was nuts when I quit a construction job to go back to school, but was impressed when I made it. We shared a lot of medical problems and a warped sense of humor about it. The last time I saw him alive was two days before he died, when I took him to the doctor. It was strange, lifting him out of the car to put him in a wheelchair. He died at home in his recliner.

You may be right; maybe that’s not quite the word. I don’t think my dad ever understood that study is draining. Maybe it’s emotionally draining, but it will wipe you out…in a different way than chopping wood, but it’s draining.

About a year ago, I had a brilliant idea: hold the electric less firmly against my face. Damn if it didn’t work about a million times better! Funny how you can think you know something and don’t.

Point being, what’s obvious to one isn’t to another. Just a few minutes of correction can fix it but when that doesn’t happen for whatever reason, 30 years later you’re still mashing the thing to your face.

And then, there’s the father/son bonding thing.

I am 26, and love my father very much, but he is not my hero. He’s just my dad.

He’s been there for me all my life even though he left my mom for my step mother while she was pregnant with me, and I wasn’t very close to him during my early childhood. As I grew older, I warmed up to him and became more and more like him. The family resemblance that was so striking from birth also manifested itself in my personality, and I’ve grown up to be a lot like him in disposition and demeanor.

Our personalities are not ones that necessarily attract one another, though, and it was my mom that did most everything for me for me as a child, as well as teaching me a lot of the things that a father is “supposed” to. It was she that first showed me how to shave, but after getting embarrassed that she was doing it, she had my uncle Bill, my dad’s older brother, show me. It was also her that I learned a bit more about the birds and the bees from though, again, she didn’t feel right being the one to explain it to me in detail and told me to call my dad, who felt just as awkward. I don’t remember who actually spelled it all out for me, or even if I just sort of learned on my own.

He is a good man, but he has his flaws, just like I have my own. Our relationship is not entirely of his making, and I share responsibility for the state of it. I don’t know how to tie a necktie because I’ve never found myself in a formal wear situation, and would probably turn to my mom for that as well. He’s a sports fanatic, but I am not, so we’ve never gone to any sort of sporting event other than a couple wrestling shows and high school football games when my cousin was the captain of the team. We’ve also yet to have that beer together that we keep saying we’ll have because I can’t give him specific times I’ll be over, or flake out when I do, showing up unannounced two days after he and my step mom had been told to expect me.

He tolerates this with good humor and though I feel bad about it, he brushes off any apologies, telling me he’s just happy I stopped by. I mostly believe him when he tells me this, but I can’t help but sometimes hear chords of “Cats in the Cradle” pinging in my ears and the last few stanzas playing in my mind. I’m honestly more concerned about failing him and my mom as a son than either of them not being the parent they could be, because I feel they’ve both done wonderful jobs.

Mine (gone in 2000) and I were about as diametrically opposed as two people can get. I was adopted at age 7 weeks, BTW. In Myers-Briggs terms he was an ESTJ, while I’m an INFP (this simplifies a bit a 3,000+ word digression and spares the more boring details). Naturally this meant we didn’t usually see eye-to-eye on much of anything, I involved with my SF novels and various games and imaginative fancies, he caught up in his world of finances and news and such. He was a heavy drinker and a womanizer, me I never touch the stuff and barhopping and cheating on my SO holds no appeal to me at all and is in fact unthinkable (and in fact it was his drinking and that of his own father which made we swear off the stuff when I was 12 or so). He was a harder worker than I tho, and had a keen financial eye and was a master surgeon, and may have hid an idealistic streak behind all his bravado and bluster, tho he would be loath to admit it. [Me=biggest idealist around] Basically I had to make do during my formative years without a male role-model around who shared my values and perspectives.

We did manage to enjoy some things together-golf, for example, and he did have a taste for absurdist humor which I most certainly shared. Many a time we shared unrestrained belly laughs over a TV show (MASH or All in the Family) or the silly antics of one of our pets. Sometimes he was wound really tight (usually because of work issues he could not let go of when he came home), other times a drink or two would loosen him up and he’d be a great guy. My roommate has much more in common with him, and in fact we joke that he is Bubba, their long-lost biological son (miscarried 6 years before I was adopted) who drinks and whores with the best of them, just like good old dad (cue Harry Chapin).

Am I sad he is gone? A bit. Do I wish he was still around? Yes. Did I wish he understood me more? Certainly, but that’s irrelevant now.

My father died when I was 16, after battling cancer for a year. I don’t really have enough distance from myself to truly compare and contrast myself with him, but just based on evidence, he really did determine the person I am.

One of the main things I got from him is that you should be able to do pretty much any job.

My dad did several jobs at the same time. During one period, he would get up in the morning and, while preparing for his day job, would listen to police scanner radios and every fifteen minutes be the traffic reporter for WDAF-AM. He did that for afternoon drivetime as well. His day job was with the Kansas City police department, where he introduced the “Officer Friendly” program, teaching kids about traffic safety and the law. In the evening he took law classes to become the states first criminal paralegal. On weekends, he was Ronald McDonald, doing local commercials and grand openings. He was also a magician and Punch’n’Judy puppeteer (I was part of the act as a ventriloquist. My brother was a unicyclist). We did shows all year, but were especially busy during the holidays. He taught me the need for charity and to appreciate what you do have. One of the most profound free events we did every year was “Christmas in July” - a Christmas celebration for children with critical illnesses who probably would not live till December.

I have no complete list of all the different jobs he did in his too-short life (please, don’t smoke), but I’m sure it was longer than my fairly long life. His obituary was one of those long ones that the paper does for public interest, rather than a paid one.

He tried to teach me to be creative. For instance, he did not teach me how to tie my shoes. Instead, he made a wooden shoe with laces, showed me what a bow looked like and said “make something like that”. I invented my own method of tying shoes, and use it to this day. To some extent, this was a bad idea. Schools do not appreciate creativity and independent thinking. Out in the real world, it’s served me well. But in grade school, junior high and high school, I was treated almost as bad by the teachers as by the other students. Seriously, I spent the 6th grade banished to a book storage room. All for the best though, as I read a good portion of the titles in there (multiple copies of each book).

I wish he had lived to know me as an adult.

I’ve pitted my family before, and my father who sexually abused my sisters and mentally and physically abused all of us. He systematically worked at breaking down his wife and children and took sadistic pleasure at our tears. He had to have been psychotic as there could be no other reason for the hell on earth he created.

It’s taken years and years to get to the point where I’ve felt comfortable enough to dare having a child of my own, and I still have years of work ahead of me.

I’m fond of saying that I don’t have a father. I have a Dad.

Dad taught me so many things: how to fish, how to handle firearms safely and how to shoot them, how to build and repair things around the house. He taught me to appreciate the outdoors, how to drive a car, and how to smoke a pipe. Oddly enough, he never taught me how to shave or to tie a tie–those I picked up on my own.

But those are skills, and it was in the less tangible things that Dad really excelled. He taught me that no job was beneath me–yes, I may have had a university education from one of Canada’s finest universities, but if the economy tanked and no high-tech companies were hiring people like me, and the only job I could get was working in a warehouse or driving a truck or doing some other blue-collar job, I should take it and be glad to have it. I’d meet some great people and learn some different skills and have a new appreciation for the folks who work so the rest of us could live a little easier. He spoke from experience, and I was glad of the lesson when a few layoffs had me applying for warehouse jobs and learning to drive a truck, among other things. Such jobs kept the rent paid and food on the table, and I did meet some great people. I still keep in touch with some of them to this day.

Perhaps because he had worked in so many places and with so many people, he taught me tolerance. I never heard my Dad say a bad word about anybody based on something they couldn’t change. He knew, and was friends with, people of all races, religions, sexual orientations, and so on. From him, I saw that they were just people. He always looked for the good in each one, and usually found it–sometimes he couldn’t, but it wasn’t because they were black or Jewish or gay or whatever; it was because there wasn’t any good to be found. He judged people on their own merits, not on any preconceived notions of how they were supposed to be because they were part of a certain group. He taught me to do the same.

He taught me the value of education. Oh, formal education was a good thing, but I was to remember that there was a learning experience in everything. Education doesn’t stop because you’ve graduated from a school. Be curious. Ask questions. If no answers are forthcoming, find them yourself. There a big world out there with so much to teach you–go learn from it. You’re never too old to learn.

We’ve had our bad times and our fights and arguments. It hasn’t always been a smooth relationship; there have been times when I’ve felt ignored or forgotten by him. But overall, he’s a pretty good guy. Any man can be a father, but I got lucky. I have a Dad.

My dad is living with his fifth wife. My mom was #3.
My dad is 73. I’m 30.
I didn’t really get a chance to meet him until a few years ago, since he seems to be completely incapable of dealing with kids and young people. What I’ve found out is that it isn’t that bad that he was never a part of my life - he’s the type of man who enjoys putting people down, his wife obeys him because she’s afraid of him, etc, etc…

It freaks me out a bit when I look at the mirror and realize that, at least physically, I look more and more like him.

And yet, there’s a tiny piece of my mind that still believes that he’ll… I don’t know… love me?.. some day.

I’m pretty sure my dad is proud of me. Also, I respect him more than anyone else I know.

I have a hard time relating to my dad, even though he has a very likable personality. We’re just so different, from politics to religion and hobbies and interests and personality, even stuff like background. I just THINK differently than him, and it’s awkward to try making a deep connection with him.

My dad is slow to anger, but he can be absolutely terrifying if/when a rare situation demands it.

My mom treats my dad badly, and he just takes it without complaint or sarcasm or anger. Somehow this makes him seem more dignified, and makes me respect him more. I remember when my mom would treat me the same way, and I fought back against it constantly. Fighting never helped, and frequently made it worse. But my dad might be the only person I have ever seen my mom apologize to. If you knew my mom you would understand why that’s so important.

I was raised by a stepfather, my biological father divorced my mother after WW2 just because she had a child by a US serviceman, how picky can you get.**

Daniel, my stepfather was the greatest guy I ever knew, he cared for me as if I was his own, he never raised his voice in anger and treated both myself and my half brother as if we were both his own.

He instilled in us both the need to be tolerant of others, be aware that we all had failings of some sort and that none of us were perfect.

He was a religious man but not once did he try to impress us with his beliefs, he left us to find our own way.

He taught us right from wrong, made us aware that there is no such thing as a free lunch, if you want something you have to work for it.

Sadly both Daniel and my mother are deceased, I miss them still, and always shall.

** there is a thread about this entitled My Long Lost Sister.
You may want to take a look at it

My father was a great man、who rose to the pinnacle of his profession (a judge) and who taught me a lot. He took me camping at least once a year, ski-trips, taught me how to fish, how to form a good argument, how to avoid hedonism, how to tie a bow tie so it will stay straight.

However, he always loved a drink, and by the time I was mid-20’s he had become a full-on mean, petulant, vindictive drunk. He would come home drunk and berate me for being a “coward” with my life, or for something I hadn’t done to live up to his expectations. I can’t even really talk about it now, almost 10 years since I moved away.

When I think about it, there aren’t many of those stereotypical things dad’s are supposed to do, that mine did: I taught myself to shave, learned to ride a bike without training wheels at my best friend’s house. But I realise that he was always there for me when I needed him and he set me a great example.
While I was growing up, he was studying for an Open University degree in his spare time. He had to leave school at 13 to work in a carpet factory, so he had no qualifications whatsoever. Just an incredible determination to better himself. He was always reading something, or learning, or doing something productive. Took him years, but he got there, and went on to become a mental health nurse and case officer, helping drug addicts.
Sadly, he died two years ago of heart failure brought on by Amyloidosis. I scattered his ashes myself in a local river. I hope I can be half the father he was.

Thanks for the replies, all!

Adding to my description, I’d say he was a good provider, was faithful to mom, and probably would have killed for any of us if the situation merited it.

But I think he was a lone wolf. He drove a truck (long runs) for about 20 years. He’d be gone for weeks at a time and I think that suited him. He had to let that go for health reasons, so he found a job locally and I think being in the family 24/7was awkward for him. Mom prattled on and on and he mostly let it run off him.

He just wasn’t good about showing emotions, which could almost certainly be traced back to his mother, a fierce Dane who ruled with an iron fist from what I’m told. As an adult the only time I really remember him telling me that he loved me was the Christmas before he died. He’d been having health problems and I think he knew his time was almost up. He was at home; the doctors seemed to think he was fine but maybe whatever ailed him couldn’t be fixed, and he chose not to tell us. Others in the family feel like he chose it, like he stopped fighting and let nature take its course. Sure enough, he died about a month later.

I still don’t have many feelings about that. He was there but so uninvolved in my life in so many ways. And unfortunately, he was the heavy artillery. That is, if mom couldn’t deal with me, she trained him on me. So many of my memories are of him dressing me down. He never lifted a hand to any of us, at least, but I wish there were more positive moments to balance it all out.