A lot of Americans my age – folks born in the late 70s and early 80s – grew up in households ruled by fatherly authoritarian decree.
Tough dads ruling the home with an iron fist certainly weren't exclusive to this time frame. Fathers who came of age in the early Reagan years had learned from their parents (mostly dads) that dissent and feelings and other messy things had no place in an orderly household. These things should be crushed underfoot, they were taught. So we were taught too.
I've spent the past year learning to let go of what I would call an authoritarian impulse in American fathers. It's an impulse fostered by men in our lives and TV shows and movies and books that offered a singular message to young men: You should control, even dominate, your children. If you fail in this endeavor, you have failed as a dad and, more generally, as a man. There is but one fathering formula to apply to your kids: The one your parents used.