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8 life lessons we can learn from our dads

Photograph by David Clode/Unsplash; Collage by Kaz Fantone/NPR

To honor the dads in our lives for Father's Day, we're sharing life advice from dads — as shared with us by our listeners.

The wisdom from these dads encompasses the best of life advice — the practical, the everyday — that sticks with us and somehow isn't just about remembering to bring a jacket on cold days or learning how to drive. Though, outwear and merging correctly are important, too.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads — dads-to-be, dads who are gone, and dad-like figures — may you spend Father's Day celebrating fatherhood, whatever that means to you.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity

Learn what you love

Dad said: "Learn everything you can about what you love, and no one can take that from you."

I did and have had a wonderful career in television engineering. – Clifford Whitney

Leave some wiggle room

My dad told me not to tighten the screws on furniture that needed to be assembled until it was fully put together. At the time, I thought that was to give me some wiggle room to align everything or in case I had used the wrong part. In hindsight, I think it was about major life decisions. Make your decision, but don't tighten the screws until you're sure everything is aligned and in the right place. – Pam Goodman

You have options

[My dad] says the only thing we can't fix is death. For everything else, there is always a way. This has always helped me put problems into perspective and remind me that even if something feels totally hopeless, there is always a way out. – Krissia Keck

Don't let fear guide you

"Never be afraid to do something you want to do unless it is unsafe, immoral, or will hurt someone else." This was the most important lesson I received from my dad. I still try to live by his wise words, and I believe they have served me well. – Frannie Doonan

Wear layers

From my dad before going to an outdoor football game: "If you aren't sure of how warm to dress, wear extra clothes. You can always take them off, but if you don't have them, you can't put them on." – Brian Klawun

Use your headlights

When I was learning how to drive, my dad told me that if I ever wonder whether or not to put my headlights on, I should just do it. I think this applies to driving and to life. If you wonder whether or not to do something but there's no actual downside, just do it. – Elizabeth Broderick

Don't try and control

My dad has always said: "You can't control most things in life. You can't control the weather, or traffic, or even other people. But you can always control your attitude." – Gordon Granger

Make new friends

When I was a lonely young married transplant due to career choices (we were military) and called home far away in Alabama, Daddy's response was: "Try to make new friends. And accept all invitations. You never know what might develop when you open yourself up to new people and experiences." He also believed occasional impromptu drop-in visits to close friends were not rude; spontaneity sometimes pays off in friendships. – Emily Walls Ray


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