Things Our Fathers Taught Us

by Meghan Fitzgerald

I can recall many Father’s Days growing up when my family stopped to thank my dad for all that he meant to us. Now, as a dad of three, I enjoy the privilege of being on the receiving end of such thanks. But what this day has become for me is less about being praised, but rather a reminder of how incredibly lucky I am to play this role and to have a hand in cheering on, helping, guiding, supporting, correcting, and occasionally creating lasting memories for my three girls. It’s a full day of fuel for my dad fire.
I often wonder—What will my young kids remember, when they come of age, about what their dad taught them? It’s a simple but powerful question that helps me decide how I want to spend each of my days with them.
With that in mind, our team wanted to share some of the lessons our father figures have taught us and celebrate the important men in our lives and the incredible impact they’ve made. 

One of the gifts I credit my dad with giving me is having a vision and being forward thinking. It’s not as though my dad did not enjoy living in the present—he surrounded himself by family and friends, was always up for a swim no matter how cold the water was, and would drag us that extra block so we could get the best slice of pizza, But my dad was also always thinking and planning ahead—What are we going to build tomorrow? Where is our next father/son adventure? Where should we head to on our next family vacation? My dad peeked around every proverbial corner, thinking and talking about the way things could be. I think a lot of that sensibility rubbed off on me. It’s helped me to navigate the world, and remain even more optimistic about what’s next.
— Brian F.
Brian F. and his dad

Brian F. and his dad

Meghan F., her dad, brother, mom and girls

Meghan F., her dad, brother, mom and girls

From the youngest age and more times than I can possibly count, my dad asked me the same question, “What are you going to be?” He would not rest until I answered, and only one answer would do— “Anything I want to be.” I am not sure he thought I’d take him quite so literally and take on so many different adventures in my first 20 years after school, but I am certain he never wanted his little girl to find a ceiling when she tried to soar. Now that I am a mom of three young girls, I am thrilled to pass on this sense of self and possibility, and even more lucky to share with my dad (now Papa) the chance to watch them fly.
— Meghan F.
My dad passed away last year. He introduced me everything that makes me feel alive — music, art, the smell of leaves and the air. I danced on his shoes while listening to the Carpenters, but he was really more of a jazz guy. I took walks with him in the evening. I can still hear the crunching of leaves beneath my feet, and feel the crisp air on my cheeks. We searched for raccoons in the trees and stopped to smell the leaves. He crushed eucalyptus leaves in his hand and we’d breathe it in. He taught me to stop and breathe in life.
— Jen H.
Jen, her dad, and son

Jen, her dad, and son

To never stop exploring, never stop asking how and why.
— Brian A.
My dad was a lifelong educator and instilled at an early age the importance of always continuing to learn and have fun while doing it. As a teacher, he was able to spend his summers with us, and I have endless summer memories of that time spent together. As a parent myself now, I realize one of the biggest things he taught me by example: to always be there for my children, always accept who they want to be in this life and no matter how hard it is to let go as a parent, give them the independence they need to become who they’re meant to be.
— Kenzie P.
Each night, my mom and dad would spend 10 to 60 minutes each tucking my sister and me into bed. My dad would say, “What’s our next idea?” and we’d literally just think of ideas. Hilarious inventions to make, businesses to start, or thoughts about anything that came to mind. At some point in our nightly time together, usually towards the end, my dad would say, “Alright Ryan, repeat after me.”

Dad: I can be
Me: I can be
Dad: Anything I want to be
Me: Anything I want to be
Dad: No one can tell me what to be or not to be.
Me: No one can tell me what to be or not to be.

I believe this nightly routine played a huge role in my life choices, confidence, and willingness to take risks and know that I’m strong enough to handle the outcomes. Furthermore, this quality time together each night laid a foundation for a relationship that could weather many storms.
— Ryan S.
Ryan's dad and son

Ryan's dad and son

My dad is a teach by example type of person. He has taught me, in his own quiet way, to treat every person I meet with kindness and respect. He always has the time to listen to the story of a stranger. He also has taught me to laugh vigorously (particularly when funny movies are involved), covet time spent with family, and to be curious about the inner workings of everything. My dad has this genuine love of life that permeates all that he does. I feel so lucky that I have been able to pick up even just a bit of how he approaches life and that my two girls still have their Papa around to help them find this joy.
— Meg G.M.