I believe fathers hold a vital and important role in the family. The father is the spiritual head of the household. He has a great influence on his children that transcends material providence. He holds the family together. He is the leader of the family.
But too often fathers don't live up to that role. Post-modern Society has come to expect fathers to fail in this task. Too many families are run by single mothers. Fathers, in the feminist mindset, just provide the seed - nothing more. Fatherhood is irrelevant today says the fat ugly hairy armpit woman.
This is partly due to the rise of feminism in modern society - women have been accorded the same rights like men. Women are allowed to vote, attend schools, universities, even join the Army. At all levels, women are competing against men for the same positions. This has good points because in the past, men would often abuse their dominant position as fathers and husbands, treating women like their own personal property to be used, bought, sold, traded or killed.
And its true. Fathers are often egoistic, abusive, intolerant, arrogant, unkind, petty, unforgiving, manipulative, control freaks, cruel, etc.. and in some cases, monstrous to the point of becoming pure Evil. But the sins of many do not negate the ideal set by God. However, they do cause people to be disheartened.
Fathers, usually disappoint. I guess its because they are human and thus fallible. I wish my dad was a better Christian. He served in a prominent role in the church as did his father and grandfather. (I think my great-grandfather was also a Christian). But there were moments when he behaved like a pagan. I remember those moments most vividly.
Somehow I got the feeling that he didn't like me. I was different from him. It took me a long time to figure things out and I wasn't so independent. I also wasn't as driven as he was. He finished his PHD in 3 years. It took me twice as long to complete my masters.
I guessed I rubbed him the wrong way. He seemed like a stranger to me. A distant figure, now even more distant due to his demise over a decade ago.
I wish he had been a bit more encouraging, kind, conciliatory, more fatherly I guess. He was aloof. A man stuck in his office too busy or too bored to help me (with my math work). He was easily upset over very trivial matters. And he was obsessed about winning. In some ways, he reminded me of the main character in the film, "There will be Blood".
When I was in my mid-teens I had to go overseas to study in a boarding school (yeah, like Harry Potter). Like a Wes Anderson's character - I was after a father figure. I never found "dad". How does a boy become a man (mentally)? He does it mainly by observing his own father. A father is more than just a bread winner - he imparts his wisdom, experience, even his spirit, to his children - apart from his genetic makeup and dispositions. Perhaps my father was the way he was because his own father was much worse. I wonder what unpleasant traits I picked up from my dad - or developed new ones on my own?
I think I found "my father" through observing older people. My older cousins, Uncles, school seniors, my teachers, my army officers, even my pastors - iron sharpening iron - but mostly rusty disappointments I'm afraid. And sometimes it takes a long time to erase their influences from my mind.
That's why I find movies about failed fathers, like Life Aquatic and Royal Tenenbaums, quite cathartic to watch. In many ways, I identify with the characters and their predicaments.
But you learn, I guess, what works and what doesn't.
I wish my father was alive to encourage me, offered wise counsel. (He had a doctorate in Chemical Engineering from a prestigious university). When he was alive, he would gladly offer it to strangers. But to me - he sort of expected me to figure it out by myself.
"Go figure it out yourself." Dad shouted.
(But I can't; I wasn't half as smart as him in the technical subjects. And my clunky memory "bluescreens" trying to remember complex or even simple mathematical formulaes.)
Maybe his own father was like that - hard arsed. I certainly hope I don't carry forward this trait.