30+ Lessons on Life and Love We Learned from Our Dads

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  • Lessons from My Dad 1 of 39

  • Lessons from My Dad 2 of 39

    Get out of the car

    Lessons from My Dad: Get out of the car

    My family went on all sorts of outdoor trips when I was a kid in California — Yosemite, Big Sur, Yellowstone, Lake Tahoe and more. Sometimes, after those long car rides, all I'd want to do was stay in the car once we'd arrived at our destination. Another hike? More wildflower fields? But my dad always inspired me to "get out of the car" to discover where the path would take me. This lesson has stuck with me — even when you are tired, just go. - Kathy Patalsky, Family Kitchen blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 3 of 39

    Fly without fear

    Lessons from My Dad: Fly without fear

    My dad taught me how to fly a plane when I was 5 years old. While it's easy to question the sanity of this (and my mom did, often), there was something genuinely awesome about how real the danger was and how much confidence he had in my ability to get us across the mesas and arroyos of New Mexico. Being treated like I could handle the pressure showed me that I could, in fact, handle it. Side bonus: Learning how to navigate before I could see out the window turned out to be great prep for the whole "flying blind" part of life. - Mira Jacob, Deputy Editor
  • Lessons from My Dad 4 of 39

    Give of yourself

    Lessons from My Dad: Give of yourself

    My dad always manages to find time to help others and in doing so has taught me, or rather shown me, what selflessness truly means. Most recently he taught me that there's a better alternative to 401Ks — I can't remember what it's called or why it's better, but I know that if I call him, he will explain it (for like the millionth time) with the utmost patience. - Eric Peterson, Assistant Designer
  • Lessons from My Dad 5 of 39

    Question authority

    Lessons from My Dad: Question authority

    When I was about 6, we passed a hill full of grazing cows, and my dad pointed at them, saying, "Ya see those cows, kid? Those are hill cows. They got two legs shorter on one side so they can balance." My Dad knew a lot about farm life, so I took him at his word. Six years later it dawned on me: What would happen if they turned around? "Their legs can't be shorter on one side!" I told him. My dad let out his signature laugh and shouted, "You finally figured it out." He taught me how to think for myself and helped me develop my own sense of humor. I wish he was still here so I could pull his finger and wish him a Happy Farter's Day. - Carolyn Castiglia, Strollerderby blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 6 of 39

    Just go for it, whatever it is

    Lessons from My Dad: Just go for it, whatever it is

    Don't be afraid to try — it's a simple lesson, but one that my dad started teaching me when I was very young. He applied it to everything, like allowing me to give him a haircut even though the only experience I had was getting my own hair cut by someone else. I think the reason he trusted a 10-year-old with a pair of scissors near his face was because he knew I was a perfectionist. Now I've changed career paths and moved across the country twice. I'd like to think my dad was behind those decisions. He allowed me to see that all I have to do is try, because I won't let myself fail. - Raydene Salinas, Photo Editor
  • Lessons from My Dad 7 of 39

    Laugh it off

    Lessons from My Dad: Laugh it off

    The most important thing I've learned from my dad is to use humor to lighten those tough moments in life. The day before I started high school, I was extremely nervous so he said to me, "Megan, just go in there, take a look around the room and say loudly, ‘Yeah, I was the cutest girl at my last school, too.'" I didn't actually do this, but it was funny advice that made me laugh and feel less scared about the next day. - Megan Segura, Editorial Intern
  • Lessons from My Dad 8 of 39

    Allow yourself to float

    Lessons from My Dad: Allow yourself to float

    One of the most important things I still remember is my dad teaching me how to float on my back in the ocean. He taught me how to let go of my fears, relax, and just go with the flow, even if it's just for a few minutes. To this day I'm most at peace while floating on my back in a calm surf — I'm completely weightless, as if nothing else matters. It's in these moments when I also feel a special closeness to my father, even though he passed so long ago. - Angie McGowan, Family Kitchen blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 9 of 39

    Save your best puns for teenagers

    Lessons from My Dad: Save your best puns for teenagers

    One of my favorite things I've learned from my dad is the art of a well-placed pun. He taught me that no matter the situation, there's always room for a joke — the cornier, the better. In my teenage, pre-coffee days (a dark, dark time, I might add), he'd greet my refusal to get out of bed with, "Morning has broken — we need to go fix it!" As far as comedy goes, grumpy adolescents aren't exactly an ideal crowd, but he never stopped trying to get us to laugh (or at least crack a smile). If that isn't love, I don't know what is. - Amy Soukup, Editorial Intern
  • Lessons from My Dad 10 of 39

    Talk to strangers

    Lessons from My Dad: Talk to strangers I've watched my dad make countless connections through casual, friendly chitchat throughout his life. As a teen I would cringe as he struck up conversations with complete strangers — something I was too shy to do. However, I saw time and time again how just a 5-minute talk could turn into new and valuable knowledge, an entertaining invitation, or even a lifelong friendship. Now the thought of speaking with *gasp* complete strangers gives me a thrill (perhaps out of necessity, living in New York and all). And I no longer cringe when my dad talks to people we don’t know. Instead, I chuckle and wonder where that exchange will lead him.

    - Mandalee Meisner, Senior Designer

  • Lessons from My Dad 11 of 39

    There is no secret to success

    Lessons from My Dad: There is no secret to success

    When I was 18, I asked my dad, a very successful entrepreneur, "What's the secret to success?" His answer was far simpler than I expected. "There is no secret," he said. "Success is equal parts hard work and accountability." Now that I'm an adult, I understand how he truly embodied this ideology. He was always a blood, sweat, and tears sort of man who could always be counted on. There are no secret paths or easy roads to success, but hard work and accountability are helping me become the woman I want to be. - Melissa Embrey Jordan, Baby's First Year blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 12 of 39

    Pursue your passion

    Lessons from My Dad: Pursue your passion

    When I was 20, my dad and I took an unforgettable trip to Phoenix. At the time, I was a huge Fleetwood Mac fan and I wanted to know why Stevie Nicks chose to live in Arizona. So before we went, I did an extensive Google search and found her address. On the last day of the trip, we rented a car to find my Mecca. I assumed we'd be able to drive by her home like a Hollywood bus tour, but it turned out she lived in a gated community. Instead of turning around, my dad tried to convince the guard we had an appointment to see a house in the neighborhood (hers). We didn't make it in, but it didn't matter. My dad taught me that persistence has its own rewards. - Dara Pettinelli, Lifestyle Editor
  • Lessons from My Dad 13 of 39

    Have a little faith

    Lessons from My Dad: Have a little faith

    My dad would get mad at me any time I said the word "can't." Which I did — a lot — when I was younger. "Stop saying you can't," he'd say. "I don't like that word." Eventually it sank in. So, I guess my dad taught me to have a little more faith in myself — and to stop being so whiny. - Andrea Roxas, Assistant Editor
  • Lessons from My Dad 14 of 39

    Appreciate each day

    Lessons from My Dad: Appreciate each day

    My father was 26 when he was killed. Adventurous and charming, he had his whole life in front of him. Until one day, he didn't. I was two when he died and I have no memories of him. I was robbed of his presence in my life, but he taught me lessons nonetheless. Because of my father, I shower my husband and children with love and whisper, "I love you," every chance I get. His brief life taught me to live each day fully, to strive to see the beauty in each moment, and to never wish a second away. - Nichole Beaudry, Being Pregnant blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 15 of 39

    Be rich in love

    Lessons from My Dad: Be rich in love

    My father has shown me the importance of family. We may not have had the most money or the best of everything, but my dad's job (albeit not glamorous), allowed him and my mom to be there for my brother and me as we were growing up — including each and every one of my cheerleading competitions and dance recitals — and that has meant everything to me. I'm my daddy's little girl, and he's my number-one fan, and his active presence in my life exemplifies the parent I want to be one day. - Marisa DeSisto, Editorial Intern
  • Lessons from My Dad 16 of 39

    Break the cycle

    Lessons from My Dad: Break the cycle

    When I was little, the guy I called "dad" was at best gregarious and at worst, harsh. I was a teen when I discovered that he wasn't even my real dad, which led me to years of rebellious, self-destructive behavior as I wondered who my real dad was and why he left. Thanks to my fiance, I am now loved by, and witness to, the type of father I had always dreamt about for myself and my future children. He has slowly taught me to trust again, to believe in family, and leave my fears in the past. Just the sight of my young lad and his dad together do the most schmaltzy, tender things to my tough soul. A good mix to possess, I think. - Selena Burgess, Being Pregnant blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 17 of 39

    Develop a good golf swing

    Lessons from My Dad: Develop a good golf swing

    My dad started teaching me to play golf as soon as I could hold a plastic club. I can remember him going over the fundamentals of the game while I was too young to consciously process what I was learning. By the time I got to high school, I was good enough to become captain of the JV team my freshman year. The skills I'd learned finally paid off when I beat my coach during the end-of-the-season tournament. Today, whenever I'm on the course and I see someone my age struggling to get the ball off the tee, I'm grateful my father took the time to set me straight at a young age. - Ryan Rogalski, Production Assistant
  • Lessons from My Dad 18 of 39

    Pee before you leave

    Lessons from My Dad: Pee before you leave

    Every summer my parents would pack up the station wagon, load us kids in, and head out for a road trip. Without fail, by the second hour, we'd cry that we needed to pee: "DAD, stop the car!" To which he responded, "Pee in a bottle!" Hours would pass until we would finally pull over — not because dad was giving in, but because he had to pee. Thanks, Dad, for helping us develop strong bladders. Now that I have a family, we love road trips. But my kids should be thankful because we pull over when nature calls. Molly Thornberg, Being Pregnant blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 19 of 39

    Failure is the best teacher

    Lessons from My Dad: Failure is the best teacher

    Whether it was learning how to ride a bike, shave, swim, or even talk to girls, my dad offered me little guidance while I was growing up. The day of my college graduation, he finally explained that he had wanted me to learn everything on my own, to be self-sufficient and diligent. "If you want something, nobody's going to get it for you," he explained. "You need to experience pain and frustration to be a stronger man because I'm not always going to be around to help." So thank you, dad, for all the scrapes, bruises, cuts, and countless rejections from the opposite gender, and for believing that I would succeed in spite of it all. - Justin Han, Traffic and Operations Coordinator
  • Lessons from My Dad 20 of 39

    Enjoy the ride

    Lessons from My Dad: Enjoy the ride

    The most important thing that I learned from my dad was not to take myself too seriously. No matter what he and I are talking about or what we are doing, laughter is always involved. So many people spend so much time focused on trying to be perfect instead of just relaxing and enjoying the little moments that make life so special. He also taught me how to ignore the "what ifs" — "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas," he always says. What's the point of life if you can't have a little fun? - Mary Fischer, Famecrawler blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 21 of 39

    Take a stand

    Lessons from My Dad: Take a stand

    My father always taught me to stand up for what I believe in. I think deep down, he actually created the passion I have about so many topics and social issues. To this day, we maintain a very strong relationship, and every time I accomplish something new, he's there, cheering me on. I am the woman I am today because of his influence. - Danielle Elwood, Baby's First Year blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 22 of 39

    Laugh at yourself

    Lessons from My Dad: Laugh at yourself

    My dad taught me the importance of being goofy. He's never afraid to be silly or laugh at himself. (I recall being totally embarrassed to introduce him to boyfriends in high school, but today, I couldn't be more proud.) After all, it's that sense of humor that makes life a lot more fun! - Andrea Zimmerman, Blogs & Social Media Manager
  • Lessons from My Dad 23 of 39

    Wait for the right one

    Lessons from My Dad: Wait for the right one

    My stepdad taught me that the man I should marry is the one who does the chasing, and the ones I have to change myself for or throw myself at are the wrong guys. He reassured me that the right man would fight for me and love me for who I am. And he was right. I waited for that guy, and we are going on nine years of marriage! - Shell, Famecrawler blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 24 of 39

    Keep moving

    Lessons from My Dad: Keep moving

    My dad loved sports and the great outdoors; he would take us running almost every day. We would spend hours at the beach and days at the tennis courts. We were a very active family that hiked and biked together, and now I am doing the same with my family. Thanks, dad! - Rachel Faucett, Family Style blogger
  • Lessons from My Dad 25 of 39

    Make the world a nicer place

    Lessons from My Dad: Make the world a nicer place

    When I was a teenager, I would occasionally run family errands. I remember one day taking the car to get the oil changed. The mechanic said to me, "Tell your dad Mike said hi, would you?" When I would go to pick up the dry cleaning, the guy at the counter would say, "Please wish your dad my best." I remember thinking at the time, What on earth is my father saying to these people? It was easy enough to figure out — my father has always built warm relationships, through playful banter and genuine interest, with everyone he meets. His core insight, I think, is that most people are friendly and interesting, and you should make it a challenge to figure out how and why. The result is that his corner of the world is a little bit sunnier than most. It's hard to see this, growing up, and not want to be similar. - Rufus Griscom, CEO and Co-Publisher
  • Lessons from My Dad 26 of 39

    Throw like a boy

    Throw Like a Boy

    My father, I am told, wanted to have one boy. Instead he got three girls. He handled that curveball with incredible good-naturedness and poise. And furthermore, he channeled his dreams for a son into raising us as though we were boys. Through my many years spent working my way through classrooms, soccer fields, relationships and business opportunities, I've realized that in raising me as he would a boy, he taught me to be blind to the barriers that are sometimes put in front of women. Now if I could only get my husband to do the dishes, change more diapers and do the laundry! - Alisa Volkman, Co-Publisher & Vice President
  • Lessons from My Dad 27 of 39
  • Lessons from My Dad 28 of 39

    Never give up

    Never give up

    My Dad taught me not to quit when it gets tough, and that even if people say you can't do something, the only one who decides that is you! Love you Dad! - Angie Himes
  • Lessons from My Dad 29 of 39

    Drive carefully

    Drive carefully Slow down going into a curve and speed up coming out. Best advice ever!

    - Kim Varner
  • Lessons from My Dad 30 of 39

    Know that family comes first

    Know that family comes first My Dad taught me that family is number one because it is the one thing that cannot be replaced. Thanks Dad, I love you.

    - Jill Bernis
  • Lessons from My Dad 31 of 39

    Treat everyone with respect

    Treat everyone with respect

    My dad taught me how to love — not just family and friends but people with diseases and disabilities. He also taught me how to respect and treat everyone the same no matter what color they are. - Danielle Long
  • Lessons from My Dad 32 of 39

    Strike your own path

    Strike your own path My Pop has taught me so many POWS (pearls of wisdom). Most importantly, to make your OWN path in life, even if that means you have to trudge through weeds and stumble. Pop said if you believe in that path, follow it, and the next person won't have it so hard. Thanks Pop, for being an amazing role model and my best friend!

    - JoAnne Thomas
  • Lessons from My Dad 33 of 39

    Have compassion

    Have compassion My father, who grew up in Chinese military schools, whose parenting style went way beyond the "tiger-mother," was a violent, sadistic, abusive rage-aholic. Watching him shatter and destroy all the potentially great things in his life was beyond distressing, but an invaluable lesson. He unintentionally taught me optimism, how to find inner strength, and also how to attract beauty, love and goodness in the world. I am thankful that he is my father and that I experienced these great mental, emotional and physical pains so that I can have compassion and understanding for those in similar situations.

    - Sensible Girlfriend
  • Lessons from My Dad 34 of 39

    Don't worry about material things

    Don't worry about material things My dad has taught me to never give up. I didn't have a great childhood growing up and my dad had to work really hard to provide everything we have. I now cherish everything I have with my husband and son, and I've learned life isn't about material things — it's about enjoying what you have and the love you have for your family and friends.

    - Amber
  • Lessons from My Dad 35 of 39

    Connect with nature

    Connect with nature My Dad taught me how to fly fish and tie flies. Most importantly, he taught me that there aren't many problems that can't be fixed by spending a quiet morning casting a line over a cool stream.

    - Molly Norton
  • Lessons from My Dad 36 of 39

    Have faith

    Have faith As my husband was lying in a coma in the hospital and doctors told me he would not survive, my father held me in his arms and cried with me — and never left my side. My husband made a miraculous recovery and walked away with no side effects whatsoever. God taught me a lot during that ordeal. He taught me that even though I am a grown woman with a family of my own, I still need my daddy to hold me and comfort me. He was a rock for me to lean on, he was the voice of reason I needed, and most importantly, he was my prayer partner.

    - Bethany Gill
  • Lessons from My Dad 37 of 39

    You can do anything

    You can do anything I know that if it weren't for my father, I would have dropped out of high school. Instead, I went from being kicked out of one school to graduating with multiple scholarships from another. I have my own life and my own family now, and I believe with all of my heart that it was because of the strength my father gave me. Even now that I am nearly 30 and he is 85, I still rest my head on his frail shoulders when I can.

    - Tamara S. Arndt
  • Lessons from My Dad 38 of 39

    Bait and cast

    Bait and cast My dad taught me how to fish. I can bait a hook, cast perfectly, and clean my catch. I even taught my husband how to fish! Just a few weeks ago a group of friends were fishing with their sons. I took the pole from my 4-year-old son to cast the line and one of the men rushed over and said, "Let me get that for you." I smiled and cast the line out perfectly. It was great to see every man's jaw drop.

    - Beckster
  • Lessons from My Dad 39 of 39

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