21 Things I Learned From My Dad

Father’s Day is always a little bittersweet for me. A holiday that reminds me of what I no longer have and everything I have missed over the last thirty years, and yet it is filled with great joy, excitement and the making of new memories now that we have children of our own.

I love sharing stories with my children about their grandpa, and what I remember most about him, other than his warmth and sense of humor, was his fatherly advice. He loved to dispense his fatherly lectures wisdom and like a typical teenager I tried to tune him out with a Walkman plugged in my ear. Though I found when I wrote this list that thankfully more than just a few things sank in. (It’s amazing what you remember when memories are all you have.) I know he’d be delighted and surprised I was actually paying attention.

So if you parents out there think your kids aren’t listening just because they are rolling their eyes and looking bored and fiddling with their cell phones – think again! I’m proof things do sink in even when you’re trying your hardest to ignore them. I can almost hear his deep, rich baritone chatting with me over a plate of gooey chocolate chip cookies…

Fatherly Wisdom:

1. Your reputation is everything. Don’t do or say anything that can tarnish that. And I’ll add, always be good, and if you can’t be good, be discreet. In the age of Facebook where people tend to share too much this can be tricky.

2. Tip well. It could be you on the other end.

3. Make someone smile. Be polite, friendly and treat people well, regardless of who they are or their position in life. This includes knowing when to say: Please, Thank you, and I’m sorry.

4. Dress like a lady. Avoid showing too much skin or wearing too much makeup.

5. Beauty will fade, so develop your brain. Read. Get an education. We had special reading and snuggling time with our Dad where we’d take turns reading aloud. He also created vocabulary lists for us to hang on our bathroom mirrors and occasionally there would be pop-quizzes at dinner. I usually did well on those since I spent so much time in front of the mirror!

6. There are three kinds of people in the world: those that watch things happen, those that make things happen, and those that say “What happened?” Be a person that makes things happen.

7. Just like me, he couldn’t play an instrument to save his life, but our home was always filled with a variety of beautiful music.

8. My Dad was a very funny and clever man and he loved to laugh. I’d like to think I inherited his dry wit. He believed humor to be the ultimate icebreaker, way to connect and coping mechanism.

9. Believe in God.

10. Be a gracious host and make people feel welcome in your home.

11. Give back to your community and give often.

12. Marry someone kind, smart and hard working, who treats their mother well.

13. Don’t flirt too much or be too available, let them come to you. He was a big fan of playing hard to get.

14. Watch what you say, as you can hurt and alienate people with your words. I wasn’t afraid to go toe to toe with my Dad (well maybe just a little, but I did it anyway to show how tough I thought I was), so I always thought this one was particularly directed to me.

15. Be a good friend. Always be generous. Be affectionate. Take care of those around you.

16. Money doesn’t grow on trees, so don’t be wasteful. However, he didn’t mind spending on nice meals and a beautiful ambiance.

17. Put yourself out there. You won’t meet anyone or make friends as a shut-in.

18. Don’t lie, it’s too stressful to have to remember what you said. Don’t be a know-it-all. And don’t brag.

19. Family comes first. Love and honor your parents and siblings and always call your grandparents.

20. My dad was fond of saying “One hot day doesn’t make it summer.” In other words, don’t be so quick to judge a person or situation – good or bad.

21. Last but not least, chocolate helps with the parent/child bonding experience. We spent many a late night watching TV or chatting devouring Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups or fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

I love you Dad, thanks for everything. xoxo

Do you have any Fatherly advice you’d like to share?



  1. says

    I loved this article! I just lost my dad in April of this year, so with Father’s Day just a few days away, I’m having a bit of a tough time. My father gave me a lot of the same advice while growing up and he too would like the fact that I did, in fact, hear what he said. Thank you for sharing.

    • Carpool Goddess says

      Thank you for sharing Maureen. I’m sorry to hear about your dad. Sending big hugs your way.

  2. says

    I can’t agree with #12 more. That is the best advice any father could pass on to his daughter. You are so lucky to have such a wise, loving father. I don’t have a close relationship with my own father, but I know my kids will have one with their father – thanks to tip #12!!!

  3. LCostino says

    Boy! Your dad was right on! You are a lucky lady to have had such a smart and caring father. And geez…. I really need to remember #1!

  4. Jenn says

    That was lovely Carpool goddess..not only do i remember your Dad (carpooling us) I remember the beautiful relationship you shared…xojenn

  5. says

    Loved all of these.

    I learned many simliar things and also the names of every Air Force plane in the air. I learned that UFO probably exist and that I will be spanked if I sass my mother.

    Happy June!

  6. says

    You sound as though you were blessed with a wonderfully wise father! Thanks for sharing! BTW…My father and I also shared a love of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups :)!

  7. says

    It’s great that you can remember so many very specific pearls of wisdom from your dad. I like that so many items on the list are about taking life by the reigns. Hugs to you this upcoming Father’s Day.

  8. Sherri says

    Oh, Linda…this made me smile. It made me think not only of the legacy my own father is leaving, but the legacy my husband leaves as well. Beautiful…

  9. Kim says

    You had some good times with your dad! I love the sign that you used. I wished it was true in our family, but mine wasn’t quite like the sign says.

    I enjoyed reading your “happy” post!

  10. says

    Your Dad is a very, very smart man. I am going to print this out and read it to my children. They are bit too young to perhaps understand the importance of these values and suggestions but I feel it is good to start ’em early. I love your post, and enjoyed thinking about my own Dad (and parents). Thank you!

  11. says

    Your father would be very proud of you for the woman you’ve become. I love that you remembered this list. That’s very special.

    Sharing chocolate together? I love him a little, too.

  12. says

    I think number 5 and number 12 say it all. I know one of the reasons I chose my husband was because of the kindness he showed his mother.

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