"My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." ~Clarence B. Kelland
There's something very special about dads! They throw their kids up in the air so high it makes moms close their eyes in fear, tell "punny" jokes that make their teens groan, and ask their little ones to "pull my finger." But between all the goofiness and horsing around, they impart wisdom, instill integrity, and help us grow.
So for all the dads, stepdads, and granddads, here are just a few of the life lessons we've learned from you:
BE A PERSON OF INTEGRITY, DIGNITY, AND GRACE
"Do your job well, no matter what the job."
"Think for yourself and be educated enough to make smart decisions."
"Empathy isn't a weakness."
"Apologize quickly and own my crap when I've screwed up."
"My grandfather was the man who taught me the most growing up and he taught me so much about family. About commitment. About ambition and drive and excellence. He taught me about business, for sure, and in his own way, he taught me about love too."
"Help and serve others, even if it is a bit of work."
HOW TO WIN AT ADULTING
"Financial wealth comes from ownership, not working for someone else's dream."
"Don't limit yourself. No arm? No biggie. Play tennis, compete, ride and train horses, drive, go to college, everything."
"Be responsible. Pay your bills, including gas money to go places."
"Work hard and be prompt, even early."
"My dad taught me to be strong and stand up for myself and that girls can do anything they want to. I remember he said, 'I don't have to worry about anyone messing with you because you won't put up with it.'"
"I never once heard him say something bad about someone else... ever. He never said hurtful things to us, or anyone else that I can remember."
"My dad was an optimist. He greeted every morning with a smile, and I am so grateful that he shared that optimism and love of life with me."
ON RAISING CHILDREN
"Never doubt the negotiating power of a motivated child."
"The kids see and hear so much more than I think they do, often more than I want them to."
"Give experiences, not things."
"'No' won't suffice as an answer, so throw in the 'why' at the beginning."
"Keep them focused on what really matters."
"He trusted us. Yeah, we got in trouble and pissed him off. We were kids, we were going to make mistakes, that's just life. But he always trusted us to do the right thing. He trusted us. If he didn't trust us, how could we trust ourselves?"
"Most importantly is for the father to show the children's mother love and respect. Show boys how to treat the woman who bore their children. Show girls how they should expect to be treated."
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF LOVE
"My dad taught me to start everything with love. Every interaction, every project."
"My dad has picked me up when I was too emotionally raw to function and reminded me to keep going. To be strong and to remember that I'm in control."
"Hugs and cuddles are priceless."
"When [my grandson] goes to the naughty spot, afterward my son gathers him into his arms and asks, 'Why did you have to go there?' With the answer he says, 'Why are we not supposed to do that?' Then he smothers his son with kisses and love."
"My daddy taught me the power of forgiveness: my grandpa disowned my dad and for over 20 years they did not talk. A month before my grandpa died I got to watch them talk because they were both willing to let go of the past! The power of forgiveness is so powerful we all cried, laughed, and heard the three little words that mean so much … I love you!"
WHAT OUR HUSBANDS/SONS/BROTHERS LEARNED ONCE THEY BECAME FATHERS
"Next to Husband, Daddy is the greatest title I've ever earned."
"I miss sleep."
"With four of them, we have to have a perfect zone defense in play, pretty much all the time."
"I can be big and scary with my kids [when I need to be]. It is so I can protect them from the big and scary monsters in the world."
"They are going to need counseling anyway, I might as well give them good stories to tell."
"I think that all the jaded and calloused views we create in our 20's can be destroyed by seeing the wonder and awe in our own children's eyes. The awesomeness and beauty of our world and life seems to become humdrum and bland. Viewing the world anew through someone else's experience of it brings back some of that awe. Not all of it, but enough of it."
"Why is there so much poop!?!?"
"Listen when they want to talk about the little things, so they're comfortable talking about the big things."
"I learned there is no handbook and my parents weren't as dumb as I thought they were when I was a kid."
"I really didn't know I had that amount of energy as a kid."
"I've learned from being a dad that parenthood roles are not nearly as rigid as I would have assumed from watching many of my parents' generation raise kids. Still, there are some roles that are easier for each parent, at least for us. It takes work, creativity, and a lot of effort between the two parents to figure out what you're each good at and not so good at so that you can balance each other out."
"I've learned from being a dad that the world isn't as bad as we think it is, sometimes we just have to change our perspective."
"18 years is too short of a runway to launch these people into adulthood; what once seemed like forever is gone in a blink."