Parenting is undoubtedly the most difficult job on the planet. While I commend those who stand up to the task and raise a child, parenting is much more than being present during a child's upbringing. A parent can be in a child's life, but not be the support that a child needs. Parenting done right is a parent who is approachable, understanding, and devoted to the happiness of their child. That's my opinion as a current child to some parents.
Unfortunately, some parents simply do not know how to be good parents. From my observations and experiences, parents learn from their parents. A parent coming from a home where a meaningful conversation was rare will usually result in them rarely having meaningful conversations with their own children. Another fault of some parents is their inability to treat their children as individuals capable of controlling their own destiny. In most cases, parents who grew up in difficult circumstances pressure their children into making decisions that they believe will ensure a life that is better than their's. While the intentions are good and a child may end up grateful for their parents' "tough love," a parent who doesn't support their child's desires will create friction in the relationship with their child.
In Fun Home, Alison did not have the ideal parent-child relationship with her father. The reason for this dysfunctional relationship was by no means one of the conventional reasons that I previously mentioned. While her father may have cared about her, any parent whose most notable characteristics are his sternness, secrecy, and withdrawn personality would naturally create a shaky relationship. Having seen the show, Fun Home, and having read most of the graphic novel, I think I am able to get a pretty good grasp on Alison's relationship with her father.
From her father's abnormal attention to interior design and clothing to Alison's introduction to a human corpse at the hand of her father, the relationship was eerie to say the least. When she confessed her sexuality to her parents in a letter, her father's response (or lack thereof) created feelings of resentment towards him. She disliked that he always felt like he had to be all-knowing. That response however seems like it had more to do with his own secret rather than him trying to know how to handle an unprecedented situation.
Her father hid his own sexuality from his children. The truth that Alison's father was having affairs with men, as young as high school students, was revealed during a phone call between Alison and her mother. At this point, I would imagine Alison felt like her father was a stranger. Personally, to be completely blindsided by news that you would never expect about your parent would have me questioning everything. A person that you thought you knew your whole life has been holding on to a secret that makes you wonder if you really knew them.
I felt sympathy for Alison when she said the death of her father provided her with a sense of relief. She wanted to mourn and feel what a child should feel when their parent has died, however, her relief derived from a bond that was never formed. Her father was there but not there.
The idea that someday I might be responsible for someone else's life is intimidating. After watching Fun Home, I am reminded that my duty as a father would go beyond just being in the house with my child. I actually have to be there. I want to be a father who is approachable at any time, who is understanding under any circumstance, and who is devoted to the happiness of my child at any cost. The formula for a good parent is not so simple, however. People living many ways become parents, and sometimes it is not planned at all. I get it, not everyone has a warm/compassionate personality or the time to always be there for their child - so then, what are the universal, indisputable traits that a good parent must have?