The Most Valuable Lessons Dad Taught Me

Life is fantastic for many reasons, but at this moment it strikes me how at a glance, it looks like a string of ordinary days with a smattering of highlight reel-worthy moments. That's how I mostly remember my childhood. But when I peer in more intently, I see love, encouragement, and consistency. When a parent or role model is committed to the job - to your development - the results can be spectacular. I'm thankful that both my parents were up to the task. However, this post, in particular, is for all the dads. They get crappy Father's Day gifts, if any at all, are rarely recognized for their tremendous value to the family (what they bring to the table), and don't garner the same reverence our mom's do (read The Most Value Lessons Mom Taught Me). So, in honor of Father's Day, today's post is for the dad's, especially mine; the first man I ever loved, and the top 7 lessons he taught me. 

 

Lesson #1 - YOU CAN BE OUTNUMBERED AND STILL WIN

In our house, it was my father and three women; my mom, sister, and I. There were wild mood swings, arguments (a few sister fights), boyfriend drama, high expectations, negotiation and lots of demands for makeup, clothes, permission for sleepovers... I could go on. 
With all of that, you'd think my father would be a pushover or recede into the background, leaving my mother to handle the lion share of parenting duties. Some men might have, but he never did. He embraced the experience! I vividly remember my father doing my hair just as often as my mother. The same was true of cooking or housework or school projects. He was the one who taught us how to ride bikes, to box and play the guitar. I never heard him complain, even after long work days and unreasonable demands. It was from those moments that I learned about dedication to family and love. In turn, we "the girls" treated him as if he were a national treasure. He was a king in his castle. 

 

Lesson #2 - YOU TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT YOU

My father was adamant about speaking up for yourself; advice I've often used, particularly in job situations. In fact, my first "real job" I worked in the office of a healthcare provider. I was new, but I noticed the boss would yell at people quite often. One day, she came over to my desk, screamed at me (I can't remember what about), and then stormed into her office. I waited a minute before getting up, walking into her office and closing the door behind me. I told her if she had an issue with my work I would be happy to discuss it behind closed doors, but under no circumstances was it acceptable for her to speak to me in that manner. And, if she could not agree to that, I would be leaving effective immediately. Frankly, I think she was shocked that I called her out on for her behavior. She profusely apologized, and never once spoke to me in that manner again. You teach people how to treat you.

 

The few moments in between her yelling and me walking into her office, I could hear my dad's voice in my head, saying, "you were looking for a job when you found this one." In other words, you're a smart cookie, and there is no situation in which trading your dignity for dollars is worth it. 

 

Lesson #3 - LEARN FROM THE PAST AND IMPROVE UPON IT

The progression of my father's life from a child in the deep South to a young man raised by his mother in the city to an adult with a family of his own was remarkable. He often spoke about being raised in a single-parent home. He never wanted his kids to share that experience or my mother to struggle. Both of these things were within his power to control, and he dedicated himself to it as if it were a mission. I didn’t know until I was much older that his drive stemmed from his childhood. My grandfather died from disease of the liver when he was quite young, leaving behind a wife and two small children. Having experienced the devastating effects alcohol can have on families, my father preferred to avoid it (with only a few exceptions that I can recall). He used his past experiences to create guidelines for living a better life. 

 

Lesson #4 - KNOW YOUR WORTH

Self-worth is one of the most significant lessons a father can teach his child, especially a daughter. If you don't know how special/valuable/unique/incredible you are, the unworthiness you feel can bleed into many areas of your life. Often, showing up in relationships and finances. I touched on the relational aspect in a previous post which I've linked here. In today's culture (at least in the U.S.) the focus tends to be on money and material possessions. If that is where we derive our value, we're woefully depriving ourselves of the more profound riches of life.  

 

Lesson #5 - SELF-CARE

Can you picture in your mind's eye, your father heading off to work? It's an iconic image that I remember from watching television. In real life, before I got up, my father was well on his way. He worked. A lot. In the 20 years, I lived under my parent's roof I never saw him take a day off. In fact, I can recall only two times that my father was sick, and both required emergency services to take him to the hospital. From him, I learned the importance of balance and self-care. The need to take a break and allow yourself to recharge. 

 

Lesson #6 - HOW TO BE A PEACEFUL WARRIOR

Admittedly, this one is a struggle for me. I've been known to "go in." A trait I inherited from my mom ;) My father, however, was a very patient man. He would talk about the things that were bothering him, and he'd listen too. If any further discussions were pointless, he'd wrap it up or walk away. There was no yelling or drama with him; yet, he could command a room with just his presence.

 

And #7, The Final Life Lesson - NO ONE IS PERFECT


For all of his beautiful qualities, my father was not a perfect person. However, he was consistently the highest expression of himself with his family. That is the example I strive for every day. God knows, there are days when I severely miss the mark. Other times, it's just a moment or two in the day. And sometimes when I hit a purple patch, I'm living my best life for consecutive days. I love when that happens! But I know there are up's and downs on this journey, so I try never to get too excited by the highs or to bummed out by the lows. I'm not perfect.

 

I look back fondly, and with great appreciation for the man who taught me these valuable life lessons. I will forever be grateful for my dad, and his teachings which have endured the test of time. What are some of the lessons your father taught you? Comment below and don't forget to subscribe to our site. Happy Father’s Day to all the dad's who are doing a phenomenal job!!!