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5 Life Lessons My Dad Taught Me


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My dad is amazing. Seriously. He’s the most courageous person I know. Life has not been kind to my dad. He’s faced some tough situations that no one should have to deal with. Health issues have made things even more difficult for him in the last couple of years. He’s not perfect, but he is authentic. Most people wouldn’t consider him to be a superhero, but I do. He’s accomplished things in places that others have simply given up. My dad is amazing.


How to talk with people.

I grew up a quiet kid, just like my mom. Social situations frightened me when I was in a room without people I knew. I never really knew what to do when meeting new people. Small talk eluded me. I was so afraid of making a fool of myself that I avoided such situations as much as physically possible. If I was at a party or in a classroom you would most often find me in the back row or leaning up against a wall.

My dad is the opposite, always has been. He can go into a room full of strangers and come out with several new friends. I saw this first hand as a kid when we would visit new churches, or when I accompanied my dad to work when he transported nursing home patients for a living. My dad dealt with new people all the time. I wanted to be confident like him. It just took a while to take hold. I’m now pretty good at small talk, meeting new people, and listening. I credit my dad for that.


How to feed a crowd.

If you know my dad, you know he likes to cook. Some people like to travel. Some people like to read. My dad likes to cook for people. Our house while I was growing up was a safe place for my friends to come over and hang out. It was also a pretty popular place because there was ALWAYS food.

I had some great conversations with my dad while he was cooking. He also taught me how to make some great dishes. The kitchen was often a place to hang out in between movies or games played by my family and friends at get-togethers. It could easily be called the heart of our home.


How to be vulnerable.

Years after my parents divorced my dad and I developed a relationship that allowed us to talk about deep things. Religion, politics, money, and feelings are topics we regularly discuss now. My dad has made some mistakes in his life. We all have. Why those mistakes matter is because he is quick to own up to them.

He has also had some really difficult situations forced upon him. It is seeing him deal with those things that has taught me how to be vulnerable. My dad taught me that it’s okay to cry. Emotions are something to be embraced. I often questioned this as I grew up. Our media and many social constructs paint a different color but through my dad’s example, I’ve seen that there are times when it is completely appropriate for men to shed tears.


How to help those in need.

We didn’t have much as I was a kid. My dad worked a lot and never seemed to be able to make much money. That didn’t make him angry or upset at life. It actually helped make him an incredibly generous person.

Garage sailing is a favorite pastime of my family. You might be surprised about how much can be found for cheap. Thrift stores are much the same, but a little less so. We often got used gifts for holidays and birthdays. It was okay though. I learned to be happy for family and the intended thought of the gift over the actual gift.

My dad was a pastor for years and loved to help people whenever they needed a place to stay or a meal to eat. Our couch regularly had a visitor occupying it for a few nights. Holidays were often spent with non-family members visiting our home because it was right. People shouldn’t be left alone around the holidays. It was also fun. These individuals and families had their own stories that they almost always wanted to share. These travelers were people that needed help and our family (upon my dad’s suggestion and example) was there for them.


How to teach someone something new.

I love my dad. He knows about a lot of things, however, technology isn’t one of them. Through the years I’ve learned the perfect way to teach someone something new from my father when I was little. He would often answer my questions with a question. “What do you think?” It was a way for him to see how my little mind worked. I think it also gave him an idea of where I was coming from. That allowed him to know how best to explain something to me. I absolutely loved that and try to continue it today with my son.

I like asking questions and I love figuring things out for myself even more. It has made me independently minded and I owe much of my current success to him. Here is to hopefully many more years I have had with my dad!


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  1. I was a stranger to Chicago, no family and no friends, when I met your Dad. I walked into the seminary launch and he said, Hello. We came fast friends. He spoke of his children and how much he loved you all. Your Dad has been a light in my life and my first friend in Chicago.


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