I think its a sweet and respectrul gesture for the FH to ask the father. Your right, it's more of a "can I have your blessing" not "Will you allow it". My FH asked my dad, but he's not very good at being sneaky and did it over dinner with just the three of us. Everytime I got up from the table and came back they were all whispering, and then hush hush, and I'm a very suspicious and skeptical person so I knew right away what was going on. I was a little disappointed to lose the suprise proposal. But I still had then when, where, and how to look forward to. Then the next night he kinda blurted it out while trying to defend his actions while we were out. So, I never did get that surprise proposal! lol More of a "I was planning on asking you to marry me." But never did...we just decided we were engaged.
My FH asked my dad's permission when they were visiting us last June. He didn't actually propose until the following December. I thought that it was a really romantic gesture and showed a lot of respect towards my parents.
My DH wanted to ask my father in person, but my dad was on swing shift (midnights that week) and DH works long hours, so it was next to impossible to get them together, never mind alone. So the day before he called up my house and my mom answered. When he asked for my dad and found out he was at work, DH asked for his phone number. He asked for her blessings and of course she gave them. DH then called my dad at work and told him that he had really been hoping to do it in person, but he wanted his blessings. My dad told him that it was completely unnecessary but he appreciated it. He proposed the next day.
Funny story. DH didn't tell my parents when he was going to do it because he wasn't sure himself. The next day, he decided he was going to do it (he had the ring for 2 weeks already). As he was getting ready to take me out to dinner, he told his mom (lived at home still) that he thought he was going to propose. We after the proposal, we were driving to the restraunt and called my entire family. We decided that instead of calling his family, we'd swing by his house and tell them in person before dinner. When we walked into the house all smiles and giggles, my In-Laws said hello and turned their attention back to the movie they had on. We said, "Well, We're Engaged!!!" and they jumped out of their seats and ran over to give us huge hugs. They didn't want to be acting differently if he didn't do it. So cute!