Growing up on farm, I often felt more like a hired hand than a child when spending time with my father. Whether he was at his off-farm job, presiding over the council as mayor of our little town, attending church board meetings, plowing, planting, serving in the Minnesota National Guard, or responding to emergencies as fire chief – my dad was always working. From as early as I can remember, he expected the same of me too. My father and I never had that “my dad’s my best friend” relationship you see so often on TV. But, over the years, we became so much more than father and son. We were each other’s most reliable employee, business partner, adversary, teacher, advocate, student, boss, and champion. He was who I called first when things went wrong, and I was the one who took his calls in a pinch. 

No, my dad was never my friend but, for every second of my life, he was my dad. And he was always the best one he could be. He gave me lots of things, so many more than he or I ever realized, to be honest. However, they were hard to define, recognize, and appreciate. At least they were until I started thinking of them as things my father taught me, rather than things he had given me. Several years ago, I shared these thoughts online in the form of a list to honor my dad for Father’s Day. It quickly became an annual tradition and today is, without a doubt, the most popular thing I put on the internet every year. 

Dad holding infant me

I lost my dad on Halloween in 2021 and this Father’s Day will be my second without a father of my own. In honor of his memory, and in tribute to all of you out there wearing the dad pants as best you can, this year I would like to share my list with you. Dad always knew that we’re all just people raising people. It doesn’t matter if you share blood, name, or a home – you are family if you share love. Whether you made them or not, I promise you’re making them better. Keep it up! It’s worth it. 

Without further ado, here is my 8th annual Things My Dad Taught Me (expanded again, of course) post.  

Things My Dad Taught Me 

  • A person doesn’t have to be brave to act brave, but the result is the same. 
  • If you’re not early, you’re late. 
  • Chickens always come home to roost. Leaving the door open is on you. 
  • You can take the fast way or the long way to get anywhere, but only one gives you something to talk about along the way. 
  • Critters are easier to let out than get back in, so mind your gates. 
  • The right tool makes all the difference when the job goes wrong. Dad fixing bobcat
  • You can tell more about a man by looking at his cattle than by looking at his truck. 
  • You must do favors in order to get them. 
  • Sometimes how you do a thing is more important than what you’re doing. 
  • Mud boots and snow boots are the same, as long as you have enough room for wool socks. 
  • The people who answer your call are a direct reflection of the calls you’ve answered. 
  • Effort erases a lot of mistakes. 
  • There are lots of ways to handle a nut, but most work better with a little WD40. 
  • Never let a simple answer get in the way of a good story. 
  • What people say is rarely what they do, but they’ll remember both for you, so always follow through. 
  • Assuming is just a fancy word for guessing. 
  • You can borrow money, or you can borrow trouble, but never borrow both. 
  • Both good advice and bad advice can teach you something. 
  • Brown Watkins salve, Ben-Gay, and Excedrin can fix most things that are wrong with you. 
  • Life is short and time flies, so stop for a Mountain Dew whenever you can. 
  • You don’t have to be perfect to be right.
  • The opinions of others won’t pay your bills, so don’t save them. 
  • Make time to BS. People prefer funny stories when reminiscing. 
  • If you leave without a knife, you will wish you hadn’t. 
  • Take your time saying goodbye. It might be the last one you get. Make it worth it. 

Dad and Mom times 2

My thanks and admiration to my dad and all the others out there trying their best to teach their children lessons worth learning. Enjoy your day!