Ask a man “What did you learn from your father?” and watch the most emotional moment of reflection in their eyes. You see, I firmly believe that Dads are thought of most fondly once they’ve gone. Mums are regularly in most of our minds when living. Not so our Dads, they’re just there being ‘Dad’.
My own experience
My Dad was a professional driver, like his dad before him, driving articulated lorries, busses, coaches etc.
A very practical man he taught me practical skills like fitting a 13A plug at 11 years of age; maintaining a car; woodworking; photography, and the appreciation of nature. Of course, he taught me to drive, beginning at a very young age on private land. All these things I took for granted until he died of lung cancer aged just 60: two years younger than I am now. I was 38.
What I didn’t realise was that he was also teaching me the importance of stoicism, respect for the views of others, self-control, and patience. All these were taught by his approach, by doing the right thing and demonstrating how to be a man. Not by talking about it. My father never talked about his feelings. I think he found it difficult.
Here are some things I’ve learned from my dad
Patience and Perseverance
My dad was a very patient man. He rarely seemed to get frazzled or stressed, no matter how much was going on. Even when times were tough, he remained stoic. He taught me that it’s important to be patient and to persevere even when things seem impossible.
The Power of a Good Work Ethic
My dad had always worked hard. He was never afraid of putting in the extra hours or taking on additional responsibilities. He was able to provide for me and my sister and he was always there for us when we needed him. He taught me that if you want something in life, you have to be willing to work hard for it.
Buy cheap, buy twice
Always look at the value of something rather than its price. If you buy a cheap socket set, not only will it need to be replaced but you might bust a few knuckles when the cheap metal lets go under pressure.
Buy a torch before you need a torch
Preparedness is everything, anticipate what can go wrong and prepare for it.
A little dirt never hurt anyone
Be ready and willing to get stuck-in and don’t rely on someone else to fix things for you. Nobody likes the guy that stands and watches but everyone respects the guy, regardless of background or position, that gets his hands dirty and sees the job done with everyone else.
Don’t borrow unnecessarily
Yes, most of us need a mortgage and, perhaps, some financing to buy a reliable car, but don’t see borrowing as a way of life. Don’t get into debt over a holiday, Christmas, the latest ‘must-have’ etc.
Respect your elders
This may seem old, and even unfashionable, but our elders got through life ahead of us. They’ve seen/heard/done many things that the younger generation cannot even begin to imagine. Showing respect to our elders is not a sign of weakness or subordination, and will be returned with respect and wisdom.
Dirty laundry is private
Despite my parents divorcing in my early life I never once heard my Dad speak ill of my Mum, and vice-versa. Even though money was very tight for him he never complained, never even mentioned it in front of me and my sister. I found out later in life from others just how difficult it had been for him.
Learn from every experience
Dad was not an academic man but he spent his life learning. Life is a classroom because everything we see/hear/do can teach us something. His level of interest in subjects was broad.
Actions have consequences
I was free to make mistakes but the consequences of my actions were mine. I got in trouble with the Police a few times and he made sure that I understood what I had done and stood by my side when I faced the consequences. Yes, I let him down, but that was not the lesson he was teaching me. You see I was the result of his actions and his responsibility was to be beside me and guide me.
Always being ‘there’ for me
Although estranged by divorce, he was never out of reach and I always knew that he would be there for me. Something that I have strived to be for my kids, even if working on the other side of the world.
It was only after he died that I realised how much I’d learned from him, and how grateful I am for the lessons, both practical and moral. Nowadays, when people ask me what my father was like, I find myself telling them about the things he taught me rather than just describing him as a person. And that seems like the best way to honour his memory.
He was an expert driver, with precision vehicle control the likes of which I’ve rarely seen elsewhere. He taught me roadcraft and tight manoeuvering and If I make a good job of getting into or out of a tight space, perhaps with a trailer attached, I’ll always smile and say “Thanks, Dad”.
What could you learn from your Father?
If you’re lucky enough to still have your Dad in your life, take the opportunity to learn from him while you can. You’ll be grateful for it later on. And if you don’t have a relationship that allows you to learn from your father, try to take the time to learn about him and what he’s been through in life.
Other resources on 22PlusY.com
As a site for men, we do have several other ‘Dad’ related posts that you might find interesting and, hopefully, useful
If you’re estranged by separation or divorce you need to avoid the ‘deadbeat dad’ label that Mums will often try to brand us with: Avoiding the deadbeat-dad label
Making time for your family is where you can help to teach your values to your kids, or if you’re a son and would like to learn from your father, send him this link: Finding the best work-life balance for you.
Other resources online
The Family Rights Group:
Fathers tend to get the nasty end of the stick when families break up but the role of Dad doesn’t go away, it just changes how it works.
The Family Rights Group provides useful information for fathers and can help you fulfil the role that you want and need as part of your life and the life of your kids: Fathers – Family Rights Group (frg.org.uk)
Families Need Fathers:
Families Need Fathers is an organisation that defends the principle that BOTH parents are equal under the law and that having both parents actively involved in the raising of children is the best thing for children. They offer great support and resources: https://fnf.org.uk/about-us-2020
Finding a healthy outlet to process emotions and foster mental well-being is crucial. One powerful tool that has gained recognition for its positive effects on mental health is journaling.
Talking about suicide is hard… very hard, but simply opening up and talking about his feelings and struggles can make all the difference between dying and having a tomorrow.