O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

Fatherly Advice Needed

I need your help. I’m working on a magazine article that will publish in June around Father’s Day. I’m looking for two kinds of advice related to fathers: Advice you received from your father and advice you have for fathers. So if you have a moment, drop in on the comments and answer the following questions:

1. Where do you live?

2. What’s the best advice you ever received from your father?

3. Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to fathers? (Can be directed at fathers of any age — new dads, fathers of grown children, grandfathers, etc.)


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posted April 21, 2011 at 10:01 am

1. I live in Tallahassee, the capitol city of Florida, located in the northwest panhandle of the state.

2. The best advice my dad gave me: It was an illustration about our spiritual journey and was that we will always face mountains, obstacles, if we are serious about moving forward in our spiritual walk. We have a choice when we reach that mountain—we can either run around the base of it, going in circles, refusing to deal with it, or we can take it on, climb it and get past it, moving further down the road. We’ll have to deal with it eventually because the mountain isn’t going anywhere. Of course there will always be another mountain on the other side; this is not a “one and done” operation.

3. The best advice I can give other fathers: Be honest and let your “yes mean yes and your no mean no.” Plus, start telling your kids as soon as it is appropriate, “Keep your pants on.”

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Charlie Chang

posted April 21, 2011 at 10:13 am

1. I live in Maryland, 30 minutes from DC.

2. I never met my dad.

3. Fight to make time with your children. And understand they are different from you. If you have a son, wrestle with him. If you have a daughter, go on dates with her.

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David Balentine

posted April 21, 2011 at 10:14 am


1. I live in Hiram, Georgia. We like to say Atlanta is a suburb of Hiram.

2. The best advice I received from my father was in his death. He died from a massive heart attack when I was 13. He was 44. He smoked, ate whatever he wanted and did little to no exercise. I’ve missed out on so much without having him around. But I’m still learning from that experience. I’m now 47 and I keep close tabs on my heart health. I’ve already had double-bypass surgery at age 40. I want to be around for my kids for many years.

3. The best advice I can give: Your kids are always watching you. Do what you say you’ll do. Be the kind of father you teach your kids about whether they are around or not. They will learn more from your actions rather than from your words.

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Tess Mallory

posted April 21, 2011 at 10:24 am

I live near Austin, Texas.

How do I pick one thing? I can’t! Let’s see, my father, a WWII vet, taught me:
1. To be honest.
2. When you give your word, it’s a big deal. Keep it.
3. Go the extra mile.
4. Act like you know what you’re doing, even when you don’t. (that’s a hard one for me!)
5. Every living creature has a right to live–in it’s own habitat, i.e, it’s okay to kill a spider in your house, but not outside. Unless it’s poisonous.
6. If we look at the stars and sunsets and roses, how can we not believe in God?
7. Everybody needs help now and then.
8. Always say you’re sorry when you’ve hurt someone.
9. That poetry is an amazing thing when it’s read by a man with Irish in his blood and a beautiful voice.
10. Do the right thing.
11. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you — I think that was the best advice he ever gave me.
12. How to check the oil in my car. :)))

And so much more . . .

I think the main advice I have for fathers would be aimed at their relationships with their daughters. Studies have shown that girls who are close to their fathers, and who are complimented by their fathers in an appropriate way on their physical looks, their accomplishments, and their efforts, are less likely to fall into bad relationships with men or have promiscuous sex. They also have higher self esteem. Tell your daughter she looks beautiful, and just as important — that she’s smart and you’re proud of her.

General advice:
1.Never say things that might cause your children to think that YOU think they are stupid.
2. Show your children by your actions how to treat others with respect, especially their mother. Treat their mother with respect and show them how much you love her.
3.Forgive your children when they fail, because they will, everyone does. Grant them the same grace you hope others will grant you when you fail, because you will.
4. Forgive yourself when you fail with your children, and always go back and rebuild broken fences. It’s almost never too late to mend them.
5. The way you treat your child when they are little determines what kind of person she or he will be, so take that responsibility very seriously.
6. Pray every day for the ability to be a good father.
7. Discipline your children, but never hit them.
8. Teach your children how to balance a check book, what “credit” really means and how to keep it.
9. Teach your children how to take care of their car and forgive them when they forget to add oil and burn up the engine of your favorite little import car. (Sorry Daddy!) :))
10.. Don’t drink to excess.
11. Teach your children to believe in God.
12. Teach your children to believe in themselves.

Gee, I have a lot of advice don’t I? :)) Good luck, dads!!

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posted April 21, 2011 at 11:26 am

1. I live in Brooklyn, NY
2. It wasn’t a piece of advice per se, but the thing that I appreciate most about the way my dad raised me is how he would encourage and insist that I learn to do things myself, and not rely on him or my mom to always do things for me. I was painfully shy as a kid, and he would never let me talk him into calling a store to find out its hours (yes, back then every store didn’t have a website with its hours) or calling the car dealership to set up an appointment for an oil change. He was always gentle, but firm, that I muster up the courage to do those things for myself. It made my transition to adulthood much easier.
3. My advice to dads is 1. be involved with them beyond just playtime and punishment. Read to them, bathe them, etc. And 2. cherish and love your wife, treat her wonderfully, and let your kids see how you treat her. Let them see how you resolve conflicts without raising voices and let them see you be affectionate with each other.

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Ken Grant

posted April 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

1. Newark, DE

2. My father has always been a living, breathing example of what a person should be – honest, decent, respectful. My father served in the U.S. Air Force, which meant that while I was in high school, my friends and I would hang out with the young recruits just a few years older than us – it was incredible to hear these guys talk about the amount of respect and admiration they had for my father (they didn’t know he was my dad, they were just talking about some of the people they reported to). Also, even though he had attained a high rank and had many people reporting to him, I never heard him refer to anyone as his subordinate, no one ever worked “for” my father, everyone worked “with” my father.

3. Be wholly, completely, totally the person you were made to be – do this and you will set an example for everyone to follow, especially your children.

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Kevin Leggett

posted April 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm

1. Midland, TX (was Plainview)

2. My father died when I was 7 years old and I don’t remember much about him. (link to testimony below)

3. As a father of three, my best advice is that kids value time differently than us as adults. For them, it is quantity over quality. Look for every opportunity to spend time your children. Whether it is checking the mail or going to get the car washed, invite them along. These small trips add up exponentially in the life of child!


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posted April 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm

1. Stow, OH (half way between Cleveland & Akron)

2. Fatherly advice given to me (mostly in my teenage years):

– Nothing good ever happens after midnight.
– If someone else can drive, let them.
– Squeeky wheel always gets the oil.
– Buy cheap, buy twice.
– Always give back (and until his death, I never realized how much my Dad lived this out).

3. Advice to fathers: Be involved in your children’s lives, beyond just being a disciplinarian. But, establish guidelines because you, too, are a person and have a life that should not revolve around your children.

the white words

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posted April 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm

When I was in 8th grade my father gave me this advice when I asked him about something (I can’t remember what):
“Don’t ask me son. I run from my problems.”
…I’m pretty sure he was joking.

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Lisa Smith @stretchmarkmama

posted April 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I grew up in Ohio. I’m now in Oregon.

“Keep it sunny side up.” That’s what my Dad used to say to me every time I walked out the door. Granted, he was talking to his teenage daughter and her driving, but it still represents his philosophy on life… Live life to the fullest, but never to the point of hurting yourself or someone else.

(or Dad’s car)

(but mostly yourself)

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Lisa Smith @stretchmarkmama

posted April 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Oops. By “sunny” I meant “shiny.”

(Call me a Pacific Northwesterner who is severely lacking in Vitamin D.)

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Clint Oncken

posted April 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm

1. I’m from Lubbock, Texas

2. If you borrow something, return it in better condition than when you borrowed it.

3. I think it’s important to be an authority figure when rearing children, but don’t hold onto that power status for too long. It’s hard to build a comfortable and meaningful father-son relationship -one with trust and reassurance- when fear and guilt stand in the way. Don’t get me wrong though, a swift kick in the arse when necessary is completely healthy.

P.S. I am a childless 23 year old. But I am also a son.

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posted April 21, 2011 at 6:08 pm

1. I live in New Mexico. Grew up on a family ranch in a rural part of the state.

2. Once I was whining about having to do chores and work with our show animals while my friends were all out at the lake. My dad told me, “Tiffany, we may get beat, but we will never get outworked.” That has stuck with me ever since!

3. Be there for your kids and be interested in what they are interested in. My dad never played sports, but when my brother and I did, he spent lots of time with us working on free-throws or post moves. Same thing when I went to law school. My dad knew nothing about law, but by the end he would frequently as me about how my motion to supress was coming and could discuss the hearsay exceptions. Knowing that my dad loved me so much to be interested in something that I was interested in was awesome!

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posted April 22, 2011 at 12:08 am

There are no 10 minute jobs, no free meals, and no 50/50 deals.

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ChadJ (randomlychad)

posted April 22, 2011 at 2:36 am

1. I live in Phoenix, AZ. It’s the capitol of our state, and smack dab in the middle of the “Valley of the Sun.” If Florida hadn’t already absconded with its motto, “The Sunshine State,” I’m it would have been ours! As it is, we’re known for basically two things: the heat (the Navajo for Phoenix is, I think, “Hoozdo,” meaning “the place is hot”), and the Grand Canyon. It’s certainly grand, but I’ve only been there once in the over 33 years that I’ve lived here. You see, Arizonans typically vacation elsewhere.

2. Is this a trick question? I’m sitting here racking my brain, trying to come up with something, but all I’ve got is a big blank. I’m nearly 42 years old, and I can’t think of single positive bit of paternal advice that my dad gave me. All the cruel, caustic, cutting things he said come readily to mind, but there is not a single “atta boy!” that I can recall. If however, the scope of the question can be expanded to include the example he set for me by the way he lived, then the best advice he ever gave me was:

1) Look out for yourself, ’cause no one will do it for you.
2) If you spy a hot “piece of tail,” try to bag it–this affirms your manhood.
3) Marital fidelity is highly overrated. See #2.
4) When confronted with your misdeeds, stonewall, deny, redirect attention.
5) Envelope yourself in sarcasm–it’s the only way to protect yourself.
6) Empathy? It’s overrated. See #1.
7) Have absolutely no respect for women–they exist to meet your needs. See #2.
8) The best part of childrearing is making them; afterwards, they can be safely ignored.
9) Should the children become unruly, make sure you have a big belt.
10) Should you find yourself, after following rules 2 and 7, getting divorced, make sure, as a parting shot, your spouse knows the full extent of your indiscretions.

Hopefully it goes without saying that those rules are absolutely atrocious, but they do indeed accurately reflect the life my dad lived before my eyes.

3. “Training up a child in the way he should go” often means becoming a student of one’s child–learning their likes, dislikes, their proclivities, their interests, going along with their hearts. In short, helping them find what they were wired by God to do, rather than foisting your own agenda on them. (Of course, when they’re younger, they require more direction, but as they get older a dad needs to balance freedom and responsibility in his children’s lives). Most of all, they just want our time, and sometimes (or often) this will mean laying aside your agenda, and doing what they want. They want to know that we care, that we’re willing to sacrifice, to lay own our wants, to just be there. Hand-in-hand with this is loving your children’s mother well–even to the point of being embarrassingly affectionate in front of them. There is great security to a child when they know their parents are “in love.”

Jason, sometime if appropriate, I would love to do my conversion story for your blog.

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posted April 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm

1. Where do you live?

2. What’s the best advice you ever received from your father?

3. Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to fathers? (Can be directed at fathers of any age — new dads, fathers of grown children, grandfathers, etc.)

1. I live/grew up in Louisiana

2. I’m not sure the best advice I’ve ever recieved, I’ve just been told without a doubt that my father (who is very blue-collar and masculine) loves me.

3. The best advice I could or would ever give to a father (who tend to have many expectations for their children, many dreams etc.) that it is his job to love his son or daughter no matter what, no matter how they turn out, no matter what their personality of it they are totally opposite as to what they wanted, no matter what path they choose, love your child, and next importantly, let them know that you (and how much you do) love them.


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posted April 26, 2011 at 8:03 am

I live in New Jersey.

1. I think the “advice” I got from my father was to just observe his love and dedication for his “hobbies”…his vintage car restoration and his art. He always made time for my sister and I and would patiently explain anything. All the many hours I hung out in the garage with him, I never once felt unwelcome.

2. Many of the posters mention time spent and I agree. The nature of my father’s job had him home before we got home from school and I loved that. But, almost more than that, I’d advise to let your kid unfold and explore and be curious in the way they want to.

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David Dion

posted April 27, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I am from the Philly area but am in college in Cedarville OH.

Best Advice would be…

My advice would be No matter what be there for your Kids, be their earthly rock and their representation of love and caring. You play a big role in the lives of your children whether or not you are actually there physically or emotionally.

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Christian Forum

posted April 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm

This is a tough question, I’m not a father so I’ll try and tell you the best advice that my dad gave me… That’s the tough part, but here we go:

He was a former alcoholic and he was also addicted to smoking. Even though he didn’t quit smoking he told me to do as he says and not as he does and that I shouldn’t go down the path that he did.

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posted April 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I reside in Tipton, (Central) Indiana.

Dad gave me tons of excellent advice. You asked for the best. I’m dressing to attend my own wedding. Dad says, “Don’t fill up your yard with little girls trying to get a little boy.”
(Subsequently: two girls, two boys, in that order.)

Advice to Dads from me: Mean what you say, and do what you say you will do. Teach your kids that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Respect your children; you are no more human than they are.

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posted May 4, 2011 at 11:10 am

I live in sw Florida now

My advice…Offer (as casually as possible) to drive your kids and their friends. DO NOT TALK – listen. They will chatter away as if you are invisible, deaf, and uninterested. By listening you will learn a whole lot about your own kid’s perspective on life and the lives of their friends and families. You may want to share this with your kid once everyone is out of the car and the two of you are alone. DO NOT. They do NOT want to know what you know. Hide what you learned away and know it will be handy knowledge in the days and weeks to come. That info will become the context for understanding the ups and downs your children and their friends will be in. You may want to share this new knowledge with your spouse or significant other – that is OK, as long as you both deal with this in confidence. If you learn something dangerous or scary, then you will need to share what you know judiciously and with great care. If you can go on school field trips or with their teams or band, that is great too. But nothing is a good for gaining “secret” intel as driving to the movies or the mall.

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posted May 4, 2011 at 11:24 am

By the way, if you offer to drive you will earn the other parent’s gratitude. (Not only that, but you will learn some very intriguing things about those same parents, things they might rather you didn’t know.) Their gratitude may be helpful when something comes up and you simply cannot drive. Also you will be more assured your kids will arrive and be picked up safely.

You will earn your own child’s confidence if you can keep what you learn to yourself, and soon enough they will realize how much you know and just might be willing to share even more with you. All of this has happened to me, so I know from experience that it works.

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Jordan Flowers

posted May 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm

1. Columbus, Ohio

2. Growing up i loved to make excuses for myself and my actions and how i was going to change and how my dad need not to worry, but my father is incredible with always helping me keep my life in check as well as my relationship with God in check. He would always tell me “my actions will always speak louder than my words” and that “the proof is in the puddin'”

3. I am not a father in fact i am a college student but witnessing my father’s life and knowing where he has come from the best advice i can give is knowing that if our fathers are not the men they should have been, we are not bound by that. For those who group up without a father or with an abusive father whether physical or emotional, that is not who we have to be. Christ has given us a new opportunity to be a man like him and not a man of this world. My father has been great and i have cherished his wisdom and my time with him.

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