friendship

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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