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55 Things My Dad Taught Me

Today is my dad’s 55th birthday. Over the years, Dad has taught me many lessons — some directly, and some just through example. In honor of his birthday, I’m passing 55 of those life lessons on to you.

life lessons

  1. Treat your spouse with respect.
  2. Work hard. Always.
  3. Try to see the good in people. Even if their lives are messy, there’s bound to be something good within them.
  4. Set high expectations for your kids.
  5. Don’t be afraid of a challenge.
  6. Never stop learning.
  7. Keep your temper in check. Losing it only makes things worse.
  8. Marriage is a commitment. Don’t bail out during the tough times; work through them.
  9. Always pack a jacket.
  10. Keep tire chains in your car — even if that car is a Dodge Neon (this one literally saved my brother’s and my lives one time).
  11. Do little things for your spouse, just to let him/her know you’re thinking of him/her.
  12. Don’t give up on dreams you’ve had for a long time.

    My parents went to Alaska last fall, fulfilling one of my dad's lifelong dreams. This picture is not from that trip. I can't find any of those.
    My parents went to Alaska last fall, fulfilling one of my dad’s lifelong dreams. This picture is not from that trip. I can’t find any of those.
  13. Go to the mountains as much as possible.
  14. You don’t always have to say what you’re thinking.
  15. A long walk can solve a lot of life’s problems.
  16. Always think about how what you’re doing now will affect the future.
  17. Sometimes, a hug is all somebody needs to feel better.
  18. Stick to your values, even if sticking to them is difficult.
  19. Read every chance you get — even if it’s just a few pages here and there.
  20. Buy good shoes. If you buy cheap ones, you’ll get what you pay for.
  21. Expect men to respect you. Get rid of the ones who don’t.
  22. You have to take risks to make gains.
  23. Listen.
  24. Nothing tastes better than a granola bar on a mountaintop.
    trail4
  25. You can effectively express your thoughts without swearing.
  26. Learn to write legibly. If you don’t, it will frustrate you forever.
  27. Trust in God’s plans.
  28. Check the oil and keep the windows clean.
  29. Appreciate your body and take care of it.
  30. Take the time to enjoy and appreciate nature.
  31. There’s nothing wrong with having a dish of ice cream a couple of times a week.
  32. Don’t separate frozen hamburgers with a paring knife. (Okay, so maybe I taught myself that one, but Dad’s the one who took me to get the ensuing wound stitched up).
  33. Be confident.
  34. Face your fears and overcome them.
  35. Real men can cry.

    We were both crying at this point.
    We were both crying at this point.
  36. Always shake out your irrigating boots before you put them on.
  37. Keep a notepad in your pocket. It serves to record ideas or things you don’t want to forget, and its pages work as a Kleenex in a pinch.
  38. Persistence always pays off.
  39. Always pee when you have the opportunity.
  40. Make stupid jokes and laugh at them.
  41. Wear sunscreen. And a hat. (Although I’m still really bad about the hat thing).
  42. Don’t let people take advantage of you.
  43. Don’t have a discussion when you’re fuming. Cool down first.
  44. Spend as much time as possible with your family.
  45. Spankings can be beneficial.
  46. But for some kids (i.e. Cassie), the phrase “I’m so disappointed in you” stings for far longer than any spanking.
  47. Also tell your kids when you’re proud of them, even for little things. That phrase sticks with them, too.

    This is an awkward picture from my undergrad graduation. My brother, Jordan, and I all graduated the same day... at different times. It had been a long and exhausting day. But Dad still made sure I knew how proud he was.
    This is an awkward picture from my undergrad graduation. My brother, Jordan, and I all graduated the same day… at different times. It had been a long and exhausting day. But Dad still made sure I knew how proud he was.
  48. “Noodle” your finger into the dirt before digging potatoes so you don’t cut any with your shovel.
  49. Be patient.
  50. Help people move when they need help.
  51. A three-minute phone call can make someone feel like the most special person on Earth.
  52. Respect the outdoors: Leave no trace.
  53. You don’t have to drink to have a good time.
  54. Be yourself. If people make fun of you for your values, your habits, or your personality, ignore them.
  55. Use your head. (That’s my dad’s signature phrase, said to us when we definitely weren’t using our heads or when we were leaving the house to go somewhere we’d be tempted not to use our heads. Though it became a family joke, I find myself now telling my students to use their heads.)

Dad has taught me many more lessons, big and small, and I’m sure he’ll continue to teach me many more. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful father!

What are some lessons your dad taught you?

What are some lessons you hope to teach your kids?

 

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