What’s the Best Lesson Dad Taught You?

Get ready for Father’s Day with practical advice from good-old reliable dad.

By Diana Kelly, Prevention

We asked Prevention readers and our fellow staffers to share how their fathers shaped them into the strong, independent women they are today. Find out what they learned and share your comments below!

Life Lessons

Sing a little ditty
My dad taught me that you should always have a song in your heart, or at the very least, that there are songs to be sung (and bells to be rung) for every word spoken. He’s like a human juke box, known for his uncanny (and sometimes uncontrollable) ability to break into a few bars of some quirky ditty from the ’40s, an obscure TV jingle, a or a musical theater classic seconds after you utter a string of words that just happens to be in that very tune! Mention that you like Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream and you’ll be met with, “Aba daba daba daba daba daba dab said the monkey to the chimp.” Need some milk and bananas from the grocery store? You’ll likely hear, “Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today!” I don’t know whether it’s nature or nurture, but I’ve definitely picked up the life-is-better-with-lyrics habit. Guess you could say my heart still belongs to daddy.
–Jenny Sucov, editorial director, Prevention Specials

Honor Mother Earth
My dad taught me so much. He taught me [to] love the earth and enjoy each day to the fullest. He taught me how to express myself in my own creative energies. He taught me how to be proud of myself and my heritage. I can hear his Viking yell now from heaven. Thank you, dad!
Prevention.com Member Gofergolf

Live an honest, modest life
My dad taught me to be responsible for my actions and to work hard. To help others and to put family first. He taught me to not be wasteful and to live within my means.
–Dianna, Prevention forum host

Stand by your word
The one thing of many that my father taught me was to be honest and trustful and to love my fellow man. And if you said you were going to do something, do it.
–Nancy (Prevention.com Member Alabama 1)

Pay off your debts
My dad came to this country from Leon, Nicaragua, in the mid-1950s as a medical resident at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans. The first day he arrived, he met my mother who was a French/Irish woman studying to be a nurse. They fell in love, eloped, and had six children. I am the fourth of six children and I was born and raised in McAllen, TX. During my years at home, my dad taught me a lot about money and how to handle it. He taught me to pay my bills and not to owe anyone any money as much as possible. My mom and dad sent me to a small, private college in Dallas and to teach me my first finance lesson, they applied for a student loan which I was to pay back. I paid for that loan after I graduated from college in about seven years. I remember how gratified I felt after it was all paid off and I knew then that if I could pay back that loan and commit to it, I could pay off anything I borrowed in the future. This lesson in paying back what you owe has been the greatest gift I have carried with me my entire adult life. My dad has always been the person who has had the most impact in my life and I love him so much. Happy Father’s Day, daddy!
–Lauren Useda Law, Dallas, TX

Be your own woman
My dad always told me to be fiercely independent. And going with that, he made sure I understood that I am defined by my daily actions, my well-being, and my career… not by who I am married to. Words that I live by.
–Stacey Lavish, New York, NY

Think before you act
One word. “Think!” My dad always pushed me and my brother to think things through first. And he had no patience for the excuse, “Oh, I didn’t know that would happen.” It sounds simple, maybe, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s a rule I live by which has served me well and that I [hope] am passing on to my children.
–Lisa Schnettler, executive producer, Prevention.com

Go with the flow
My dad taught me a lesson I apply every day of my life–”the only thing constant is change.” It reminds me that life is meant to be always evolving, and not to let things–however big or small–frazzle me.
--Lauren Gelman, senior health editor, Prevention

Reach for the stars
My dad has always told me to never accept mediocrity. So I try to live by those words, never settling for second best and always striving for me.
Stacey Feintuch, Washington Township, NJ

Value playtime
My dad taught me that by just being around, he made me feel special. I can remember when I was younger he would take me, my brother and sister to the ball field to enhance our batting and catching skills. Somehow, neighborhood kids would always show up and want to play. My dad would include these other kids in the activities and not miss a beat. I, of course, was jealous at the time that he was allowing these kids to take time away from us spending time with dad. Now that I look back on it, he was the dad who showed up and played with his kids, when other dads weren’t around. The other kids must have been jealous of us, that we had a dad who took time out of his day to play with his kids and make them feel important.
Katie Kelly, Jenkintown, PA

On the Road

Scare tactics sometimes work
My mom is afraid to drive on highways and my dad didn’t want me to be the same way. So a few months into having my learner’s permit we had two tickets to a Philadelphia Flyers game for a weeknight. Once my dad got home from work and was changed to go, he said, “You’re driving!” He made me take as many highways and major roads as I could during rush hour. I was terrified and was the only person doing the speed limit on most of the roads. But his strategy worked, and today I do not think twice about driving on highways, taking long road trips, or driving across the country from Pennsylvania to Colorado!
Shana M. McGlinchey, Denver, CO

Practice makes perfect
My father is not only responsible for helping me become the self-reliant woman I am today, but he’s also responsible for my excellent driving skills! At an early age my father would take me to empty parking lots and let me get a feel for the wheel to help build my confidence. His patience, understanding and teaching me when to ask for help are the qualities I truly admire and always try to emulate!
–Michelle Abril, Flushing, NY

Around the House

Keep these two products on hand
My dad taught me to be a self-reliant woman…and he taught me that when all else fails, spray WD-40 or wrap it with Duct tape.
–Rebecca Schwartz Weinreich, Hoboken, NJ

Sweep away dirt and stress
This is a bit lame, but my dad taught me how to sweep a deck. So now that my husband and I have a house, I don’t do yard work, but I do sweep the deck and am adamant about keeping it clean. And whenever I sweep it, I think of him.
–Stacey Feintuch

Arm yourself with hands-on experience
My dad taught me so many basic, useful skills, it’s hard to count them all. Among those that continue to serve me: how to ride a bike, drive a car, paint a room, change the oil in the car and fix a leaky toilet. From him, I learned how satisfying it is to be competent and self-sufficient.
–Marinell James, San Francisco, CA

Think for yourself
My dad never treated me like a “girl” who couldn’t do things. I can remember when I was 11 years old; one of our pets had chewed through a lamp cord. He got out the tools, and asked me to come watch him splice the lamp cord so I would know how to do it. Thirty years ago, that wasn’t really what girls did, but he made sure I had all the skills to be successful: compassion, nuts and bolts, and thinking skills. He always told us that when we were 18, we were adults and on our own. The first big decision that I had to make was when I was a couple weeks into my 18th year. I went to him and asked him what I should do. “You are an adult, you can figure it out.” That statement scared me, but I also felt very grown up and knew that I was capable of making it on my own.
–Boswell, Prevention.com Member LLBoswell (Boz), Senior Community Host


Own up to your actions
My dad taught me to have a strong work ethic and take responsibility for my actions and my career. It is probably the best advice he gave me other than, “Drive like everyone else on the road is crazy.”
–Elisabeth Paredes, Norwalk, CT

Struggle now, be satisfied later
My dad always taught me, “You get out what you put in.” In other words, if I didn’t make much of an effort, I shouldn’t expect much back. That always motivates me when there’s something I want to achieve–but feel like slacking off.
–Deborah Wilburn, senior editor, Prevention.com

Making a career change: The risks, benefits, and best way to make the switch

Choose a job that makes you happy
In addition to telling me [that] honesty is always the best policy, my dad taught me and gave me my love of cars (I learned how to fix them and drive them like a guy), and the love of all sports (to play them, also). My dad taught me how to swim at the age of 3 and it was one of the things I loved the most [while] growing up. He also taught me to work hard, however, his one caveat was, “No job should give you an ulcer. If it does, quit.” My dad worked from home so that was a plus, he also never drank, smoke or used the Lord’s name in vain. [He was] always there to help or give advice when needed.
–Sue, Prevention.com Member Vetteowner

What’s the best lesson your father taught you? Leave a comment below…


Basim Nawaz

*Your* mistakes, sorry!!!! ^^

Basim Nawaz

... To admit you mistakes!

Kathleen D.
Kathleen D6 years ago

...to always to stand by my convictions when I believe they are based on honor and integrity.

Kathleen D.
Kathleen D6 years ago

...to always to stand by my convictions when I believe they are based on honor and integrity.

Kathleen D.
Kathleen D6 years ago

...to always to stand by my convictions when I believe they are based on honor and integrity.

Bruce H.
Bruce H6 years ago

My dad taught me all women are ladies, unless they prove otherwise. In 2/3rds of a century, I've only met 2 who were not.
It would be nice if the analog were true and all men were gentlemen, but that hasn't proven itself.

Patricia Y.
Patricia Y6 years ago

Good advice from all of the Dads.

Brittany B.
Brittany Bingold6 years ago

The best thing my dad ever taught me was that if you want your dreams to come true you have to reach for them and not just hope for them. That if you aren't happy, only you can make the changes to get to where you want to be.

Brittany B.
Brittany Bingold6 years ago

The best thing my dad ever taught me was that if you want your dreams to come true you have to reach for them and not just hope for them. That if you aren't happy, only you can make the changes to get to where you want to be.

Emil Perera
Emil Perera6 years ago

My dad thought me to be honest,Trustworthy,be useful to the community.He was a social worker,Accountant and Warden of our church.so I will follow his path.He loved me so much and I loved him so much.