Research is not the forte of this child of the 50s. Almost all of what appears here is based solely on one man's lifetime of observation -- accumulating therefore into an opinion consequently precarious, provincial and prejudiced.
This then, without further self defense, is one of my observations about life, men, and fathers.
It has always seemed to me that a father, better yet a daddy, seeks to provide his children with whatever said father felt deprived of in his childhood.
The genesis of this observation, both pro and con, came from my own father. He was born in 1915 and came to age during the depths of the Depression. If he perceived himself as having been "deprived" of any tangible thing, it was never conveyed to his second son. We three children certainly got a lot of junk growing up, and I recall his being upset if we didn't appreciate what we had. In retrospect, though, he didn't seem as obligated to inundate us with "stuff" the way later generations of parents seem to feel so obligated.
It's more than likely he had a poor relationship with his own father, whom I never met. The only thing daddy ever said positive about my grandfather was that he would never allow liquor or guns in his home. If my father ever felt "deprived" of these things it didn't show, he never wanted us to have either. To this day both firearms and alcohol initiate trepidation in this son.
One thing I know he felt deprived of, and wanted so much for his children, was a formal education. As with many children of the Depression there was nothing beyond high school under consideration. He made up for it by reading. Much of my childhood observation was of him listening to Beethoven and reading. He could quote extensively from Shakespeare at age 15 (when he met my mother). His knowledge of the Bible was encyclopedic. After World War II, he could quote something Winston Churchill had said which applied to almost any occasion. With three children to provide for, he used the GI Bill to "read" for the law (in those days you could still apply to practice without a college degree).
He told all of us that he would pay for any college we wanted to attend, except Harvard. I never knew what he had against Harvard (was he once rejected by them?). When I finally matured enough to want an education (26), he had died.
There was one thing, which he probably could not have articulated exactly, that he wanted his children to have because he'd not had it -- for his children to know their father loved them all. We never, ever felt deprived of love in my father's home. And, knowing their father loves them individually is the one thing I wanted for my children for my Father's Day.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.