Family Living

The Best Advice My Dad Ever Gave Me

Do you remember that episode of Friends, when Rachel’s mother leaves her husband and crashes head-first into Rachel’s life? Rachel is mortified, and her mom is certifiable, but she did say something that always stuck with me, probably because it struck a little too close to home. She said,

“I went straight from my father’s house, to the sorority house to my husband’s house.”

I did that, too, but it’s a choice I’d make over and over again. My husband’s house became our home. And wherever we are all together is always my favorite place to be.

But before I moved out of my parents’ house for good, my dad said this:

“Never do anything the first year of marriage you don’t want to do the rest of your life.”

You’re welcome. :)

It was the first piece of advice I ever received from someone I respected who had been married for a long time.

And it’s advice that has served us well. I never would have imagined then that all the things I might have done during our fairytale first year could have come back to haunt me.

What it did was open up a line of conversation about the things we both wanted to do and how we were going to share responsibility and contribute to our joint household in the future. I don’t mind doing the laundry; he likes to fold the clothes. I like to cook; he’s always happy to do the dishes. I will gladly pick up discarded socks and underwear as long as the last one out of the bed in the morning accepts the responsibility of making it. These trade-offs have worked well for us. These are small things, I know. But we were only 21 when we got married. We still had a lot to discover about ourselves and the world—especially as we embarked on other firsts—navigating our first jobs, figuring out graduate school, giving birth to our first kid, and purchasing our first home.

They say how you do anything is how you do everything.
We wanted to get it right.

In honor of Father’s Day, I thought it would be fun to highlight the best advice our dads ever gave us. As a blog written primarily for women, it’s easy to leave the guys out of the content I share. But I’m a product of both my mother and my father. I was lucky enough to have a dad that made me feel valued and loved. I believe girls need both female and male role models. And my dad is one of the best!

Because of him, I knew exactly what kind of man I wanted to one day marry. What had been modeled for me growing up was good enough to keep the tradition going.

When I asked some friends to tell me about their own dads, they eagerly shared some of the best advice they ever heard:

Lean into the hard things, you will be glad you did and come out stronger than you thought you were.
— Jennifer Snyder's Dad

Strength is often defined as the ability to withstand pain. Women learn to withstand a lot of pain, and I love that Jennifer’s dad is the one who told her that she is stronger than she thinks. Our bodies can withstand so much more than we give them credit for. But there’s also other kinds of hard things (i.e. relationships, careers, kids), conflict we’d like to avoid altogether, but rememberTHERE IS NO GROWTH WITHOUT PAIN.

Good advice, Dad.

My dad didn’t give a lot of advice, but he asked a lot of questions, which usually got me thinking in the right direction.
— Melanie Dale's Dad

Two things I love about this piece of advice: It’s a proven fact that asking more questions makes us more likeable, so Melanie’s dad was smart to ask questions, especially when Melanie was in middle and high school. Parents can seem so out of touch at that age. We like our friends more than our parents, so Dad asking questions was a great strategy for keeping the communication lines open. I think questions are also a great way to help us understand the WHY behind the things we believe and the things we do. You better have a good answer if you’re about to do something dumb!

Good advice, Dad!

Write down your goals and dreams so you can go back and see what God has done and see your success. Unwritten goals are just wishes.
— Amy Myers's Dad

This is one of my favorite pieces of advice. Bill Gates said that people overestimate what they can accomplish in one year, but they underestimate what they are capable of accomplishing in ten years. Writing down your goals gives you a framework for celebrating all the wins along the way.

Good advice, Dad!

Be blessed and be a blessing.
— Sara Stewart's Dad

Oh, this one is just beautiful! What a great piece of advice because it’s so others-focused. Isn’t it true that when you are a blessing to others you yourself are the one who ends up blessed?

Good advice, Dad!

Try to understand what other people are experiencing. Give them a chance. There is something good in all of us.
— Jennifer Turner's Dad

My friend, Jennifer, has a heart of gold, and she got it from her dad. She finds the best in everyone, and everyone loves her because of it.

Good advice, Dad!

Remember, it’s what’s CAUGHT, not what’s TAUGHT, that matters most.
— Ginny Starr's Dad

This is one of those quotes that popped up again and again. Our role models always SHOW us what’s important rather than TELL us. Show, don’t tell, is good advice for writers, and it’s good advice for us.

Maybe you didn’t grow up with a dad who shared a lot of wisdom with you. Maybe you grew up at the school for hard-knocks or had to find your own way or had a lot of strong women who guided you through those early, pivotal years. No matter how you got to where you are today, I hope you will share what you’ve learned with the next generation. We are always better together.

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Your Magical Staycation: Stay Home, Save Money, and Have Fun

We’re on Spring Break this week, and it seems like everybody I know is either at the beach or at Disney World. Except us. I’m not complaining. Home is my favorite place in the whole wide world. And besides, I’ve already been to Disney World, and the rumors are true—it’s every bit as magical as they say: The cast, the rides, even the lines. The magic is in the details.

But you know what’s NOT magical? The crowds, the prices, and the wait times. And depending on the season—the heat. If you weren’t already planning to go, maybe those four things alone have convinced you to SAVE YOUR MONEY and STAY HOME. I’m kidding (sort of), but if you do find yourself at home like me this Spring Break, there are some things you can do to make your staycation feel a little more magical.

When I was kid, I had lots of time to play. We didn’t need a fancy schedule because there was nothing to remember. Go to school. Come home. Do homework. Go outside and play. Repeat. These days, my kids have their own color coded tab on our family’s electronic calendar. When we have downtime, it takes them a couple of days to decompress. We can help them by jump-starting those creative juices with some ideas of our own.

Make It Monday:

Crafty moms, this is your day! I’m not that mom, but I can surf Pinterest like a boss, so you (yes you) are bound to find the perfect craft just by going straight there and typing in something like: “easy crafts for toddlers” or “easy crafts for teens” or “foolproof crafts for moms.” I’m not crafty, but I do like to cook, and sometimes I even let my kids help. My son wants to learn how to make sushi, so I bought a simple kit from Uncommon Goods. And my daughter likes to bake. We can crack eggs and whip cream all day. I found a simple recipe for chocolate croissants I can’t wait to share with some friends we’re planning to see this week!

 Try it Tuesday:

There are so many things to try! Does your town have a skate park? Load up the bikes and scooters and roller blades. My first and last time on roller blades I crashed into a car and ended up with a badly bruised tailbone. That was almost twenty years ago. Maybe it’s time for me to strap in and get ready for the ride of my life once again. The skate park has many flat areas, is fully enclosed, and is safely removed from the parking lot full of cars. If all else fails, I’m not too old to get on a razor big wheel and go to head-to-head with the local kindergarteners. This is my year to be brave and try new things!

 Water Wednesday:

Middle of summer? Great! A warm Spring day? Better than perfect! Spread a tarp in the middle of your grass, drag out the hose, and pour on the dish soap. The kids will have the time of their lives. The grass will be ruined, but I promise it will grow back. Middle of winter? Take a bath! You can read more on the perfect bath here. We have a huge tub in our master bathroom, and I never let the kids use it. They would think it was a real treat! Don’t have a bathtub? Don’t worry! My favorite part of going to the salon is having my hair washed. Wash the kids hair in the sink. It’s a wonderful relaxing experience. (Warning: They will beg you to do this every time!)

Thinking Thursday:

We live in Atlanta, so there are several great museums. My favorite is the Civil Rights Museum. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library is also a fun outing. If I don’t want my kids to THINK they’re thinking, then I’ll take them someplace like the Sweet Auburn Market, a fantastic place filled with strange foods and exotic people. Want to stay home? Great! Your kids might think they hate documentaries, but there are lots of interesting ones. I used to make my son watch them as punishment for not getting his homework done, but an unexpected side effect was that he actually fell in love with them and even now is a bit of a history buff. (My current favorite is Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, about Fred Rogers, and you can find it on Amazon Prime Video.)

 Fun Friday or Friend Friday:

Surely your kids aren’t the ONLY ones who are home this week! Invite a friend to play (You need a break by now), but if you truly do feel like the zombie apocalypse has happened and took everybody you know with them to Zorp, then might I suggest a trip to a local assisted living or nursing home? There’s something truly magical about youth and vitality and when your kids share it with others, a beautiful thing happens. Take some treats (sugar free are great for those who have diabetes) and a fun game. We simply blew up a few balloons and purchased some cheap plastic paddles from the Dollar Tree. Our kids had a blast playing a modified version of Badminton/Tennis with their new friends.

 

You did it! You had a magical week, creating memories your kids will cherish forever. And it wasn’t too hard. You can do anything for five days. And I bet you didn’t even miss the long lines, greasy food, cramped hotel room, or endless car ride at all.

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