Words of Wisdom from Our Fathers

It’s almost Father’s Day, the day we celebrate our patres familias — the men who raised us, the men who moulded us, the men who influenced us.

Back on Mother’s Day, I asked my friends to share with me the best advice they’d gotten from their mothers, and, boy, did they. As we near Father’s Day, I posed the same question on social media: Gimme the best advice you ever got from your daddy in one sentence or saying.

The answers were vastly different.

It seems that our mamas essentially want us to be sweet and pretty and happy. Our mamas care about our inner well-being and our outer appearance. Our daddies? They give us the tools to get by in this world, the tools to make it every day, the tools we need to survive. Sometimes they’re not warm and fuzzy like mama is. Sometimes they’re a little pessimistic. Sometimes they cuss.

But the advice is always sound.

Our daddies are practical, no-nonsense, and colorful. They want us to be tough, smart, and successful. On this Father’s Day, here are 50 pieces of sage advice passed along by our dear old dads:

  1. Never stay in a motel that charges by the hour.
  2. Take the back roads when you can.
  3. Make a boy earn every kiss.
  4. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
  5. Can’t never could.
  6. Excuses are like assholes — everybody’s got one.
  7. Don’t lose a dollar chasing a dime.
  8. When someone comes down too hard on the foibles of others, he’s hiding something.
  9. Work. That’s what life is about — hard work.
  10. You can’t learn a damn thing with your mouth open.
  11. Suck it up.
  12. Let the slick end slide and the rough end drag.
  13. Measure twice. Cut once.
  14. Put the tools back, right where you got them, when you’re done.
  15. If you study history, you will know what is going to happen.
  16. You don’t have to get it all done in one day.
  17. When planning a project, quadruple the time and double the money.
  18. Nothing you need to be involved in happens after midnight.
  19. Put your hands in your front pockets, lean forward on your pride, and see where you land.
  20. If you can’t afford to pay for something in cash, you can’t afford it.
  21. Never co-sign. If they don’t give a damn about their own credit, they won’t give a damn about yours.
  22. Ignorance can be overcome, but dumb … dumb is forever.
  23. Never pay up front.
  24. For every dollar you get, save ten cents and give ten cents to God.
  25. The door locks from the inside.
  26. It’s not about the grades you make, but the hands you shake.
  27. People can take a lot from you, but never your education.
  28. Never argue with a drunk, and never fight a crazy person.
  29. Never get on the bad side of anyone who cuts your hair, fixes your car, or handles your food.
  30. Expect the worst, then no matter what happens, you won’t be disappointed.
  31. A husband’s key to a long and happy marriage: “Yes, dear.”
  32. People are seldom what they appear to be.
  33. Never look down on anyone unless you are helping them up.
  34. Don’t be too hard on your enemies because they might become your friends one day, and don’t be too familiar with your friends as they may become your enemy.
  35. When the task you’re facing looks too big, too tough, too much, just lay your ears back like an old mule and plough through.
  36. No matter how long the stick, if you stir shit, it will get on you.
  37. A fish would never get caught if it didn’t open it’s mouth.
  38. Buy quality, take care of it, and it will last forever.
  39. You don’t want to be around anyone who doesn’t want to be around you.
  40. Don’t ever crap on anyone going up the ladder of life. They might pass you someday.
  41. It’s okay to make money and help folks at the same time.
  42. Don’t quit a job unless you have another job.
  43. If your fingers touch the ball, you should be able to catch it.
  44. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
  45. Travel. Explore. Be adventurous.
  46. It doesn’t matter to me if you choose to dig ditches for a living, just make sure you dig the best ditches.
  47. Never buy a red vehicle.
  48. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
  49. Never get your butter the same place you get your bread.
  50. Because your Mama said so, that’s why.

Let’s make that 51. There was one piece of advice a friend shared that wasn’t in the form of a cute phrase or saying. Shoot, it wasn’t even spoken out loud, but I think it’s the most important of them all, so here it is, verbatim:

  1. “He didn’t say it in words, but from a man who’d call timeout in the neighborhood backyard kickball game so he could kiss his daughters goodbye on his way to work an evening shift, I learned nothing gets in the way of making sure people know you love them.”

Happy Father’s Day.

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