Written by : Oh, The Things Dads Say 

Oh, The Things Dads Say

Whether it’s that reminder that he isn’t a chauffeur or that we can have an opinion when we start paying bills, dads sure have a funny way of handing out advice. Even though he may chuckle if we stumble, he’s always there to lift us back up. In honor of Father’s Day, our readers share their dads’ wacky and wise bon mots.

Don't Worry…

“Is it going to matter in five years?” —Jennie B.

“Don’t work late. It will be there tomorrow for you.” —Kathleen H.

Before he passed away, my dad always taught my siblings and me to “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” We were too young to understand, but one day it dawned on me exactly what he meant.—Bernadette B.

Stay out of trouble…

His way of telling us to make good choices was “always keep your nose clean.”—Charmayne S.

Anytime I went out with friends, my dad would tell me, “Be good! And if you can’t be good, be safe!”—Missy L.

“Keep your powder dry.” Because of his love for old cannons and guns, back when gunpowder was used, it was his way of saying, be safe, be prepared and take care.—Cindy H.

Be happy…

“Be the mailman, deliver!” Every morning as our boys walked out the door to school, my husband would say that. Our older son used it as his senior quote in the yearbook. —Terri T.

“Never be afraid of change. If you don’t change, you don’t grow.”—Veronica H.

At the end of all our conversations, my dad would say, “Remember, be true to yourself.” He passed away after Father’s Day in 2016.—Debbie W.

My dad would always tell me how proud he was of me and that I was brave for the choices I made, yet I always stayed sweet and kind.—Christina A.

And keep laughing!

Growing up, my dad always said, “If your nose runs and your feet smell, you must be built upside down!”—Sarah C.

“Never pass up a chance to pee.”—Missy M.

My dad had a ton of sayings, but one of the most important is this, “You have to keep your humor. You have to be able to laugh at yourself often.”—Priscilla H.

Happy lessons learned from fatherhood.

Matteo Bussola is the author of the book Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast: Reflections on Fatherhood. This architect-turned-cartoonist lives in Verona, Italy, with his wife, Paola, and their three young daughters, Virginia, Ginevra and Melania. He writes about his family's adventures, as they serve as moving reminders to people all around the world to embrace the present and value every moment they share with their loved ones. Below he shares with us the valuable lessons he has learned from being a father.

Dads are known for silly sayings or non-sequiturs. What funny sayings do you say to your children that make them happy?

It’s not so much a silly saying, but an entire made-up language that I use. My three little girls have an “alternative language” made up of invented and seemingly meaningless words that we use within the family, as we are the only ones who understand them. But I will never confess what the words are—I still have a reputation to maintain after all!

I think it’s through their children that dads discover the joy of play and tenderness again. Both things are banned from our adult world, especially the male one. I don’t understand why.

What is the greatest part of being a father?

The greatest part of being a father is listening to your children’s questions and becoming aware that each question holds a hidden opportunity for you. You simply have to refrain from giving them a ready-made adult answer and, instead, take the opportunity to see the world through their eyes. We need to understand that being a father isn’t just about educating your children; rather, they also educate you. While you try to give them rules to live in the world, children can teach you to look at the world with new eyes, without prejudice.

Being a father teaches you a special kind of attention that you learn the moment you realize adults focus too heavily on the future, while children are always very present. Kids are different from us because they live in the moment. For them, what exists is now. That’s why the word that a child hates most is later.

Being around kids reminds us that it’s very important to give value to every single moment, to be present, for them and for ourselves. The greatest realization you have as a father is that your child will only be 8 once and only 4 once and only 2 once, and every day, every hour, every minute, you find yourself watching a series of shows with no repeat performances. You can either be there and watch it while it happens and live it with your children or lose these experiences forever.

What is the best parenting advice your dad ever gave you? And do you pass it down to your children?

My father never believed in rules; he had much more confidence in improvisation and instinct. Sometimes he was right, sometimes he was wrong. He didn’t necessarily tell me exactly what to do, but taught by example—sometimes with his mistakes, even the ones he made when he thought he was doing the right thing. For example, he discouraged me from becoming an artist because he was convinced that it wasn’t the right path for me and didn’t offer any financial stability. This didn’t discourage me—rather, it pushed me to understand how much I loved drawing and made me persevere even more, until I achieved my dream of becoming a comic book artist. So one of the most important lessons I learned from my father, the one I’m trying to pass to my daughters, is that obstacles don’t come into our lives to stop us from doing things, but to show us who we are.

Where is your happy place?

It’s the one I choose every day. Here. With them.
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