Things Our Dads Teach Us When They Aren't Even Looking

This is a reboot of an article that I wrote for a magazine in Florida many years ago. I continue to marvel at the things that I learned from my dad simply by being around him as he repaired a car, worked in the yard, got ready for a trip in the motor home, or relaxed while watching television. I hope you enjoy this post, and I wish all of you dads out there a very special Father’s Day!

My dad taught me things about life when he wasn’t even looking.  He wasn’t consciously teaching.  He was simply being who he was, going about his day.  He didn’t know that I was looking and learning.  I had no idea of the breadth and depth of what I learned from my dad until I became an adult.  His teachings filled my life when I became a parent. 

Some of his best lessons took place when he was doing his favorite things, like driving the boat down the Crystal River, cooking his special breakfast for the family or lying in bed on a Sunday morning reading the paper.  At those times, he had a focused yet pleased look on his face, like everything had come together in that moment and was exactly as it was supposed to be.  Those were some of my favorite memories of my dad as well as my earliest exposures to what Eckhart Tolle talks about in the Power of Now.  Daddy had no idea he was teaching me about flow and being present.  He thought he was just cooking breakfast and watching the water in front of the bow.   

My colleague Jane Sisoian of Positive Solutions for Children and Families has had similar experiences.  Her favorite memories of her father are when he would take her fishing.  He would help her put the live worms on the fish hook and they would patiently wait for a fish to come along and bite.  Jane said, “His patience, kindness and positive attitude are the qualities he had that made him so special.  It is those qualities that have helped me in my adult years to be a better mom and teacher.”  Jane’s own patience, kindness and positive attitude have influenced the children in her third grade classroom, her own children and the adults who participate in her Redirecting Children’s Behavior™ course.  I would go so far as to say that her dad even influenced the name of her company!

The biggest lesson from my dad was about responsibility.  He never talked with me about being responsible.  He demonstrated it daily.  He finished everything that he started.  He always happily assisted others.  He took pleasure in doing a good job, and he appreciated that quality in those around him.  He persevered.  He always went the extra mile and gave 110 percent.  That was who he was.

In All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum wrote about the people in our lives who “teach us, bless us, encourage us, support us, uplift us in the daily-ness of life.”  We don’t tell these people about their influence.  They never know.  And we are that person to the people in our own lives, too.  Fulghum said, “There are those who depend on us, watch us, learn from us, take from us.  And we never know.  Don’t sell yourself short.  You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think.”

On this Father’s Day – and every day – I am grateful for the lessons my dad taught me when he wasn’t even looking. Right now, dads everywhere continue this tradition, and their children are watching and learning. In those moments – especially those filled with the wonderful, stillness of being – dads are teaching precious life lessons. My wish for you, dads, on this Father’s Day, is to experience at least a glimpse of how valuable and influential you are just by being who you are. There is so much going on when you aren’t even looking!