lessons my dad taught me
Portrait of a father and daughter enjoying a walk in the woods

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As a parent, we never really know if our kids are listening to us. We tell them over and over to clean their room, do their homework, and take the dog for a walk. I know that I’ve said at least a dozen times, “how many times do I have to tell you…?” during one of the many lectures my children have been forced to endure. This brings to mind the many lessons my dad taught me that I try to impart on them.

I’m here to tell you, they listen to what we say and they follow our example. They just pretend they are on some far away planet and we are speaking in a foreign language. I know this because I’ve overheard my daughter share with her friends the same lessons that I have impressed upon her. The same life lessons my dad taught me while I was growing up.

1. Take responsibility for your own happiness

The most important lessons my dad taught me are that you are responsible for your own happiness. You should never look to another person to put a smile on your face or bring joy to your heart. True happiness comes from within. When things are tough or you’re having an awful day, make a list of your favorite things. Do that every day, and eventually, things will get a little easier and you’ll find your inner peace. Being responsible for your own happiness makes you accountable and helps you stay in control of your own life.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m an advocate for seeking therapy when necessary.

2. Spread the love

Another valuable lesson is that some people are easy to love and others are not. We need to learn to love those people who are not easy to love. For example, the love I have for my mom is effortless because she’s a ‘saint’. On the other hand, my grandmother is difficult to love. At 94, she’s a bitter old woman and she’s not going to sugar coat anything. I can’t change her, but I can change the way I perceive her, which makes it easier to love her. Those who are hard to love are the people that are most in need of our love.

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3. Show kindness to everyone

People won’t always remember what you did or what you said, however, they never forget how you made them feel. I remember the day my dad shared this little morsel of advice which is now a very popular saying. The following day at school I told my friend that blue is her color and I love how her blue eyes shine when she wears a blue shirt. Honestly, that girl would approach me every time she wore blue from that day forward. I don’t think she knew why, she just felt drawn to me because I boosted her confidence. It’s the same with all our relationships, offer words of encouragement to your children and tell your husband something you love about him. Be gracious and never pass up an opportunity to offer a kind word or a compliment.

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4. Have time for your kids

I started learning Algebra in middle school. At first, it was easy. Then, after a month I was having some trouble with some of the formulas and getting acclimated to at least 60 math problems a night. For a 12-year-old, that equated to an hour’s worth of math homework. Instead of letting me struggle through alone, my dad took that opportunity and tutored me. Together, we spent almost every night working through my Algebra. My dad taught me that no matter what was going on in his life, my life was equally important to him. That made a lasting impression on me and increased the love and respect I have for my father. I want my children to grow up knowing that I will always be their loudest cheerleader and I delight in their successes.

5. Be classy

It’s embarrassing for everyone, but it needs to be addressed. A lot of people seem to lack class. Of course, this doesn’t pertain to everyone but it does apply to a large portion of the population in general. Growing up, my dad always reminded me to act like a lady. Sit up straight, be gracious and use your manners. There is no way I would pass gas or burp in public. Don’t let people forget to say, “excuse me” or “pardon me”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry”. I was a kid once, so I know I tried to get away with a few bad words. But my dad was insistent that we not use foul language.

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The short and skinny of it all, be responsible for your happiness, learn to love those who are the hardest to love. Be aware of how you make people feel, it’s as important than what you say. Time spent on middle school homework is time well spent. And it costs nothing to be classy, but the fallout is priceless. My hope is the 5 best lessons my dad taught me will help someone else.

Dee Tyson

Author Bio: Dee Tyson is married and currently raising 2 children, ages 11 and 12. These middle school aged children keep her young and present the same daily challenges we all face. She has 2 grandchildren (ages 2 and 8) from her oldest daughter who turns 28 this year. Dee’s family is the modern American family. Balancing work at a senior healthcare center, home, hobbies and trying to keep the family close to God, Dee takes each day one at a time.