A child with dad walking

7 words of wisdom from the CHILD mag dads

We asked the CHILD Mags staff one simple, but beautiful question. What did your father teach you? Here are their answers:

talents are gifts that shouldn’t be wasted

My father taught me that our talents are gifts that shouldn’t be wasted. He was the first person to ever encourage me to write and promised he would one day have something of mine published. He kept all my poems that I wrote as a child and told me to keep writing and never stop. – Lana A.

I knew I could always rely on my father to do the right thing

I knew I could always rely on my father to do the right thing, without fail, and I try to be the same source of stability for my kids (although as a single mum, I’m a bit wobblier than he was). He spent his life helping others in the Rotary Club, where they built playgrounds, staged sausage sizzles in the supermarket carpark to help eradicate polio worldwide, and bagged horse manure at the nearby racing stables to sell as fertilizer to buy a bus so all the kids with Down syndrome could go to special school in the nearby city. From him, I learned that every individual has the power to make the world a better place. – Natalie R.

I learned that every individual has the power to make the world a better place.

Some things my father taught me:
• Work hard
• Respect your family and your elders
• If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all
• Don’t speak until you’re spoken to
• Only buy things when you can afford them
• Have patience, especially when fishing
• And to swear, which he stopped when I was two after I said the f-word in the car!
– Kerry B.

Have patience, especially when fishing

They say there is a special bond between daughters and fathers, and that is so true for my sisters and myself and our lovely Dad. As we grew, the subtleties of his presence in our lives changed from comforter and protector to blending emotional and practical support for each of us in our life ventures. Fairness; honesty; consideration of others; never turning your back when help is required; always trying your best; being dependable and putting family before his own aspirations – my father’s unconditional love and calm, stable influence has taught and shaped myself and my daughters on our life path. – Sue M.

When all else fails – read the instructions

My dad is a very wise man with a wicked sense of humour. I still see Mum laugh and giggle at his craziness. So nice to see after all these years and proving yet again how important it is to laugh in life. She refers to him as “her rock”. Of marriage/relationships, he says: “You have to work at it every day – it’s not given to you”. Wise words indeed as my parents celebrate their 65th year of marriage in October. With five children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, they have the recipe! I know my children and my siblings’ children adore him and over the years they have listened to and taken advice from him. He is like a tonic, and has moved with the times – I don’t know any great-grandfather who still rocks along to AC/DC and the Rolling Stones. Needless to say, when it’s party time, he’s up there dancing with Mum, and everybody just can’t help but join in.

Another lesson he has taught us all: “When all else fails – read the instructions”….I am so blessed to still have him in my life. I am in awe of you, Dad. I love you. – Trish W

actions are a true indicator of character

I learnt from my dad that words can be meaningless, and that actions are a true indicator of character. My father was a wonderful wordsmith and writer, and as he travelled afar with his employment, he would send me regular letters which I treasured as I read about his adventures. Although promises were made that I would travel with him on future trips, this never happened. In fact, when I was about 10, he stopped coming home altogether, and he wrote that he had decided to live with another family and remain overseas. He would always love me, he wrote. It was not until I was an adult that I tracked him down. This, I believe, has left me with the very real issue of who to trust.

I understand now, of course, that ending relationships is one of the hardest decisions that we may have to make. The consequences can be mighty. My father later said he felt it was best to make a total break – but then again, they are simply his words, which I guess at least made him feel better. – Tania C.*

If you’re not going to do something properly, don’t do it at all

If we are fortunate enough to have our parents still alive and kicking into their 80’s+, we face the inevitable. Having placed my mother into a nursing home with Alzheimer’s only last week, my father is joining her very soon. But Dad’s strength and integrity continues to shine, even if his physical mobility does not. Still sharp as a tack. He always told me, “If you’re not going to do something properly, don’t do it at all,” so he intends to make their twilight years as happy as their 65 years together have been. He also taught me that one’s ‘word’ must be gospel – much of his generation was built upon a handshake, and I still honour this to the best of my ability. However, his ‘word’ may have been twisted on the odd occasion: whenever I asked him what he did last night, he always said he went to “Paddington Town Hall for a Square Dance”, even though I knew he was at home in front of the telly. Still does. Don’t think he’s ever been to Paddington Town Hall…

His marriage advice was always very simple: 80 give, 20 take. If both parties give 80 percent and expect only 20 percent back, their marriage cannot fail. Of course, this only works if both parties use this strategy!
– Karen D.

* Name has been changed.

Eliza Murray
Eliza Murray