The Best Lessons from Our Fathers

Dr. Angela Seabright
Alyssa Witzleben

| 8 min read

Dad and Daughter
They are personal coaches, teachers, doctors, chefs, best friends, but most importantly, they are our dads.
On Father’s Day, we spend the day celebrating our fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and any other paternal figures for the lifelong gifts they have given to us throughout the years.
The A Healthier Michigan team decided to compile the best advice from our fathers to reflect on the impact they’ve had on us. Father’s Day might just be a daylong celebration, but the lessons we have learned from our fathers will last a lifetime.
Allison: Always be confident in yourself. When I was young, I remember coming home from school worried that I did poorly after taking a test. “Oh, come on I’m sure you got a 100% smarty pants!” my Dad would say. Sure enough, I did well and there was no reason to get worked up. My Dad was confident in me even when I wasn’t, but also reassured me that I didn’t have to get a perfect grade to be successful. “Life isn’t about grades, you make us proud regardless of that,” he would say. He built up my confidence and I admire that about him because it still impacts me today in college and work.
Father and Daughter
Haley: I have two younger brothers and for as long as I can remember my Dad has constantly reminded us to use our manners. Ever since we have been able to talk, he taught us to be respectful by referring to our elders as “Mr.” and “Mrs.” Also, every time we would leave to go to a friend’s house he would yell, “Don’t forget your please and thank you.” Sure enough, it has paid off and all three of us are very polite and always use our manners.
Father and Daughter
David: I don’t remember my Dad sitting me down and offering his sage advice. However, he definitely taught me and influenced my life by his example. Something that has always stuck with me was the idea of giving every challenge or task ahead 110%. At the end of the day you want to be able to say “at least” vs. “what if.” You want to be able to hold your head up high knowing you gave it all you got. This advice has helped shape my perspective on life and I do my best to live by this example every day. Thank you, Dad!
Father and Son
Bridget: One of the best things my Dad taught me was the importance of family traditions. We had a lot of traditions growing up; old, new, big and little. My Dad was the driver, keeping these rituals alive year after year. One of my favorites was the “Birthday Fairy,” the tooth fairy’s long lost sister who would leave a gift at the bottom of our bed. These magical moments are not only the foundation of all of my childhood memories but helped define and shape my values. I can’t wait to carry on these traditions with my own family!
Bridget with her dad
Lucy: A simple piece of advice my Dad shared that has stuck with me is this: the lows we experience in life allow us to better appreciate the highs. It’s a reminder to have gratitude on good and bad days, and puts into perspective the value of grief and loss.
Grace: My Dad was the smartest, kindest, wisest and most patient man. This picture was our last Christmas together. I was lucky to have him in my life for 13 years. He taught me that I need to always try my best and work the hardest, no matter what. He would say this to me in 3 different languages; English, Tagalog and Spanish which basically translates to: “Some people are naturally smart, but everyone can work hard.” He was strict, which allowed for needed structure and discipline as a child. This included making sure we studied, but also ate healthy, had regular exercise and fun time too. My Dad was always jolly and had the best laugh. He had lots of dad jokes. As much as I learned and observed when he was alive, I have been able to continue to learn from him even though he is gone. My Dad was a surgeon and worked a lot and was on call, but when he was with us, he was completely focused on family. We always sat down to have one meal as a family. Sometimes it was breakfast after he was on call, but I can’t remember a time that it didn’t happen. This reminds me to do the same and to establish work/life balance today with my family and focus on what is truly important. He never would sweat the small stuff. Since my Dad was a doctor, he always wanted me to be one too. But after he passed away from a stroke secondary to his diabetes, I knew that I wanted to help people before they got sick. So here I am a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and health coach, hoping to inspire and help people live their healthiest and happiest lives in memory of my amazing Dad.
Family Picture
Julie: The best advice my Dad gave me was to “choose your friends, don’t let them choose you.” What he meant when I was a teen was that it’s easy to be swayed by a crowd and seek approval and validation from the “popular” kids but it’s better to be true to yourself and do the right thing. I still think about that advice as an adult in terms of priorities. I try hard to focus on what’s truly important to me instead of worrying about other people’s expectations.
Julie with her mom and dad
Alyssa: I could write a novel about all the lessons I have learned from my Dad in my life, but the first one that comes to mind for me is the importance of punctuality. In my 21 years, I have never seen my Dad be late for anything (unless it was because the rest of the family made him late). When I was younger, I always saw his ability to be on-time or early for every event as unnecessary. This lesson of punctuality taught me the importance of self-discipline as I get older and more autonomous in my career and personal life.
Dad and daughter
Jen: The best piece of advice my Dad has given me in life is to respect everyone with no expectations. This piece of advice has helped me focus on my personal growth without depending on others yet still building healthy, genuine relationships with anyone I encounter.
Father and daughter
Jill: My Dad taught me a lot about work-life balance. He showed me through his example how to excel at his job while also prioritizing family. He also instilled in me the importance of being responsible and patient. I wouldn’t be the person I am without his guidance.
Jill with her dad
Meghan: My Dad has given me a lot of great advice over the years so it’s hard to say which has been the best. If anything stands out the most, it’s the way he’s always been there for me and always supported me, no matter the phase of my life. My Dad has always been the best in that “dream big little girl, you can be whatever you want to be” way. I truly believe he helped set me up for success, as even as a little girl, I always knew it was okay to have big ideas and goals. I knew no matter what I tried to do, it would be possible, and I knew no matter what, he believed in me and encouraged me to believe in myself. Even as an adult, my Dad still makes an effort to show me his support and pride. I see it now too in his interactions with his grandchildren. I’m not sure if he’ll ever truly know how having someone like him in your life makes such a positive impact, but I do, and I’m lucky to call him my dad.
Meghan with her dad and siblings
Angela: My Dad shared so many lessons with me growing up, it’s hard to pick just one. Having spent 30 years in the automotive industry, he would always say “your vehicle is your money maker – you have to have reliable transportation.” He stressed the importance of investing in and taking care of your car. I can remember when he cosigned on my first car when I was 16, and a few more after that. He always took such pride in owning a car and keeping it neat and pristine. To this day, I think keeping a clean car is one of the most practical ways I’m able to reduce (at least a little) stress in my life.
Dad and daughtet
Helen: My dad taught me that attitude is everything, his positivity, and love of life has always been infectious. He encouraged me to not only do my best but also instilled the confidence in me that I can do anything. When I am down, I remember that a little positivity can go a long way! Also, I can’t thank my Dad enough for introducing me to the game of golf. At first, I think it was a way to give my mom a break, but now it’s an activity we can all share together and it’s truly one of my favorite things to do.
What are some of the best lessons you learned from your dad? Let us know in the comments below. And what would a post about dads be without a few dad jokes? Here are a few eye roll-worthy zingers from Chuck Gaidica, host of our A Healthier Michigan Podcast.
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Photo courtesy of: Lgh_9

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