in: Character, Fatherhood, Manly Lessons

• Last updated: June 3, 2021

Lessons From Our Fathers

Vintage father standing with military son.

Photo by Tobyotter

This past week we’ve been celebrating Father’s Day by running a series of posts about dear old dad. On Tuesday we asked our readers to share with us lessons imparted by their old man. Whether you were just hoping for an Outback steak or truly wanted to share some of your father’s wisdom, the response was phenomenal. We really enjoyed reading the lessons from your dads; they were both funny and touching. We’ve gone through the comments and have picked out some highlights:

On Manning Up

From Grapfx:

My father taught me to never be idle and keep yourself busy no matter what. Make sure things are fixed and everyone in the house is happy and safe. As sick as he was, he still helped out the neighbors, took care of his pets and raised my nephew. He also taught me about good music, Benny Hill, The Three Stooges, and all good things that are manly.

From Sam:

Whenever I struggled or failed, dad would always tell me “Stuck it up and go.”

From Pentagack:

Admit to your mistakes, even if it’s brutally painful. It’s better to be honest than to have to live with yourself as a liar. Just don’t be an ass or a jerk about being honest – use tact.

From Bryan:

My father showed me through example that it doesn’t matter what mistakes a man makes in life. What matters is if he owns up to them. When starting the quest to become a man your goal should be clear. To be the best that you can possibly be. And no matter how many years pass, no matter how much good you can accomplish you can always do better.

From Bill V:

If you need to be somewhere, but don’t necessarily want to:
– Show up
– Shut up (don’t whine about it)
– Get it over with
– Then do something you want to (redemption)

From Vance R:

When I was about 10 or 11, our Great Dane got out of the yard…I chased her for a few blocks until she stopped and tore up an older man’s pristine flower bed. The man came out and yelled at me, and told me to go get my father and come back to settle the damages. I finally got our dog restrained and took her back home, crying all the way.

I told my Dad the story, and we headed over to talk to the man. I don’t remember what they settled on (it was over 20 years ago), but my Dad calmly defused the situation. When he got back into the car, he taught me something about the art of negotiation and dealing with people while they are angry. Basically, he said in his unique fashion: “That man shouldn’t have started out with his ass on his shoulders.”

I learned that staying calm while arguing really does work out better for everyone. Now that I’m married and have a son of my own, that has come in quite handy…

From Chad:

My dad taught me that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. It sure gets tiring, but he was right.

From Ryan:

My father taught me how to fail and persevere. Miss you dad.

From Jen:

My dad once offered my chatterbox sister $5.00 if she could go a whole day without speaking. I started bugging him to let me do it, because I could just go in my room and read with no trouble whatsoever. He said, “No, I’ll give you $5.00 if you can go a full day without feeling sorry for yourself.” I naturally responded, “That’s not fair!” So my sister made it a few hours, whereas I immediately lost my $5.00. So my father taught me not to feel sorry for myself.

From Corey W.:

“Never start a fight, but if someone starts one with you, kick their ass and deal with the consequences later. It will teach them a lesson and show everyone that you are not one to push – because you will push back harder.”

From DPM:

Only I choose who I am and how I act towards others. How they react to me is out of my control, but I am in total control of how I react to them. I choose to treat everyone with respect.
Pay attention to your personal appearance. Every day when I dress, I am choosing how to represent myself to the public. Even casual dress should be done with careful attention.

From Chris:

My dad taught me that it is important to keep a positive attitude, even when things are going wrong because your attitude can have a profound effect on how things turn out. Turning your life around, or making improvements will only occur when you have a positive attitude.

Along those lines, he also taught me that when life is not going your way, it is a sign of weakness to walk around with stooped shoulders, sighing a lot so others will see that you’re not having a good day. This is especially true if you lash out at others and take out your frustrations on them. The only thing you show anyone by behaving this way is that your lack self-control, and have a weak character.

The Love of a Father

From Showtime:

My dad always had one phrase that stuck with me. “You can fix anything but a broken heart.” I remember countless times bringing him a broken toy or action figure with tears in my eyes and then just watching him fix it. He would hand it back and tell me that phrase. Anytime I need help now I just call him up and he has the answer.

From Andrew Barbour:

My own father died about seven years ago, but I’ll share something he did that I will never forget. One Christmas, when I was about seven, I started having my doubts about Santa Claus, so I came up with something vaguely more sophisticated than leaving out milk and cookies and check to see if they had been eaten the next morning. In our fireplace (full of ash, but unlit on Christmas eve of course), I put a bunch of empty plastic gallon milk containers. Santa, if real, would crush them all with his big rear end.

Needless to say, when I came downstairs, all the milk cartons had been crushed into a big butt-shaped dent, and my belief in Santa Claus was impenetrable for the next three years. It never dawned on me during that time that it was my dad that did that.

Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore, I will always remember what my dad taught me, and what I will bear in mind with my own son: It’s worth ruining a pair of pants to indulge your kid’s imagination.

From Barry:

My Dad taught me that your relationships with other people are the most important things in life.

He also showed me what it means to be a father by being there for me every day of my life. He didn’t get drunk or indulge in other vices, he worked his ass off every single day, he told me he loved me every day and gave me hugs every time he came home and before he left. I can now pass on what I have learned to my two boys and help them to grow up to be great Dads.

From DPM:

It is the role of a father to protect and defend his children, rationally. When times get rough when parenting, as they will, a father needs to be calm, learn all the facts, and act lovingly towards his children no matter what. Reacting emotionally and without details is always the wrong choice.

From Another Brandy:

During my teenage years, my dad repeatedly told me that he was my father, not my friend, which seemed to me at the time a completely asinine thing to say. Of course I wouldn’t be friends with such an out-of-touch asshole.

Looking back and comparing where I am emotionally and physically to my friends who had parent-friends, I can see that he was exactly right — and that’s what I strive to be for my children, a parent, not a friend.

Balancing Work and Family

From Corey W.

My father owned his own pharmacy for about 6 years (which he sold for good profit), between my ages of 11 to 17 (prime years for an adolescent). Many weeks he worked a minimum of 60 hours, leaving before the sun came up and always coming home late. However; in all of that, he would always make it to any sporting event or extra-curricular activity that was possible. Never complaining of how tired he was, just showing how proud he was of me. That to me, showed not only how you can balance a career and a family, while remaining successful, but also showed me that hard work and a pure work ethic will take you where you want to be in life

From Dean O.

My dad taught me to leave my work in the office when I come home. Everyday i ask him about work, he always replies, “it just keeps getting better all the time.” It really shows me what’s important (family) and what’s not (your job).

From Pentagack:

It doesn’t pay to be a (fill in your own high earning profession here) at the expense of spending time with your family. My dad is a doctor.

From Shakeel:

Family dinner is not optional. The time to sit down, turn off the TV, and talk about each other’s day, politics, or anything else builds unity like nothing else. If that means that dinner is served at 8:30 or 9:30 every night, so be it.

Relationship Advice

From DPM:

It is the role of a husband to never speak negatively of his wife. Any man who speaks poorly of his spouse to others is declaring himself a fool.

From Dean:

My father once told me, “Don’t ever date a woman whose father called her princess.”

From Pentagack:

Even if you’re not around a whole lot, your kids still have a chance of not getting terribly screwed up if you marry the right woman.

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