I owe a lot to my father. I've mentioned him before and will mention him again. Both my parents were great, I'll say that out front. I was a lucky kid, parent-wise, even if my parents weren't always lucky parents, kid-wise (yes mom and dad, I now know what a huge wiseass I was from the ages of 7 to 19). Both of them managed to make me feel accepted without being sheltered or coddled, so I didn't end up like the kids in this Atlantic article nor like some of my friends who had more demanding parents -- more driven than I, perhaps, but a good deal less happy.
But beyond this, my father in particular showed me an example of who I could be as a man -- he was patient, gentle and kind to a fault. 'Nurturing' is one of the first words I would use to describe him, so the traditional depiction of fathers as impersonal disciplinarians always puzzled me, to say nothing of the depiction of them as bumbling incompetents.
The effected not just my view of father but of men in general -- why does a man have to be aggressive or domineering? Why are those things 'manly'? My father was my model for manhood, and he was none of those things. Now I am less patient and more inclined to dominate a conversation than my father, (I can only hope I'll get better with age) but he did set me down a path of wanting to define for myself what being a man meant. I don't know where this path ends (does being a man mean anything at all, beyond what we decide it means for ourselves? I doubt it), but I'll always be thankful that he showed me the way. In the end the proof is in the pudding though -- if at the end of the day I'm half as kind and patient as he is, I'll be happy.