Lessons from My Dad

by Kay Lynn

This weekend most North American households will be celebrating Father’s Day in some way.  We’ll have brunch with my father-in-law and extended family honoring him.

I’ve shared with you the loss of my dad so I can’t celebrate Father’s Day with him.  When reading ideas on other blogs about gifts I realized  that I can give him a gift which is to remember him and share these lessons he left behind.

Fathers can be Hands-on

It was common in the 60’s and 70’s for dads to be seen as the provider and leave the child-rearing to the mom.  That wasn’t the case in my family.  My mom worked outside the home more than not and dad spent time taking care of us. 

He also cooked for us and to this day I’ve never tasted a corn chowder as good as his.  His love for baseball resulted in us spending many evenings at a ball park leaving me with the same passion for the game.

Gender Is Not a Barrier

My parents had three daughters before the one son. I don’t know if that influenced my dad or not.  What I do know is that he was always supportive of his daughters being able to achieve whatever we wanted.

We weren’t treated differently and were taken fishing, to sporting events and oyster hunting.   It was clear that using our gender to not do something was an excuse; not a reason.

Defend Your Position

My father was open-minded enough hear us out when we asked permission to do or get something.  He also listened and if we could provide sound reasoning (and it was safe) he was known to change his mind.

These debates discussions gave me the confidence to challenge authority respectively.  I also learned how to organize and present an argument.

Do a Good Job

My siblings and I had chores.  One time I was assigned the task of cleaning the car windows.  That was the last thing I wanted to do and my effort wasn’t very good.  That didn’t go over well.

I had redo the entire car ensuring there were no streaks.  The lesson was don’t bother doing it if it isn’t going to be done well.


In my teen and young adult years my father had a drinking problem. At one point I refused to speak with him for a few years after enduring many drunken calls.  He just wanted to speak with his grandsons and I wouldn’t allow it.

The standoff ended when dad was hospitalized after a stroke.  My dad never mentioned how coldly I had treated him. He loved me…unconditionally and forgave without me even asking.

 Enjoy Sunday and think about the life lessons you learned from your father.  Dad,  thank you!

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Jersey Mom June 18, 2010 at 9:02 am

Life lessons from my father? Or rather, I learned how NOT to be like my father. I learned not to treat my children as my personal slave; not to threaten to kick my children out of the house when they do not do exactly what I tell them; not to say “you’re stupid,” “you’re scum,” “you’re a horrible & foul creature,” etc. just because I disagree (which I didn’t do very often because of the consequences); not to hit my kids/spouse; not to scream at family members at least once/hour; not to be a pathological liar; not think that I an always right & never wrong; and more…

Yes, I’ve certainly learned lots! In fact, growing up in that kind of environment can give one thick skin & my facial expressions can remain quite bland and emotionless when I’m being yelled at.

Bucksome June 19, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Jersey Mom, unfortunately the life lessons sometimes are not based on good experiences. As you could tell my dad wasn’t perfect but I didn’t have to endure abuse like you did.

SD Kevin June 19, 2010 at 7:28 am

Like Jersey Mom, I had a difficult childhood. I find it hard to glean lessons from my father’s physical and emotional abuse and his alcoholism. I still call my father on father’s day, though, and will be especially thankful for the opportunity this year since he will be coming out of surgery for an “undisclosed” procedure.

The lesson that I learned about both my mother – I won’t go into details of her abuse – and father is that they may have been rotten parents and my childhood may have been miserable, but I grew up to be a good person. I grew up to have a happy life and a wonderful marriage. So, the corollary to the lesson is that I am responsible for the type of person I become. I’m responsible for treating people kindly and lovingly and ultimately that I’m worth that kind of treatment and so is everyone else – even the people who don’t, or can’t, treat me that way in kind.

Bucksome June 19, 2010 at 8:44 pm

SD Kevin,

Thanks for reminding us that ultimately we are all responsible for ourself. I’m glad you were able to move past an imperfect childhood to have a great life.

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