15 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a pretty awkward dancer. We’re talking flailing arms, two left feet, a little jumping here and there, and loud singing. Think the Elaine dance, only perhaps not as dramatic.

I will have it be known, however, that I take pride in my moves. Awkward or not, I have fun with it. It’s a family trait, after all. Passed down by….my father.

Yes, Dad, you’re an awkward dancer, too. If no one’s told you yet, then this blog post may come as a bit of a shock. But I assure you, it’s in the most endearing way possible. Because despite our funky chickens, I actually think we’re pretty good dancers. We’re enthusiastic. We get out on that dance floor, have zero restraint, and as a result, typically start the party. So there! 

But my self-proclaimed impressive dance moves aren’t the only thing I’ve learned from my dad. No, no, those moves are just the beginning.With Father’s Day this weekend, Kelly and I are dedicating this week’s motherhood post to the guys who have helped to shape us into the people, and mothers, that we are today: our dads.

I’m so lucky to have a dad who I consider to be one of my best friends; he’s the kind of person you could go to with anything and know that you have a trusting ear that will listen. He’s goofy, good-natured, smart, driven, loyal, and yes, is the kind of dad who had dance parties with my brothers and I on weekend nights while growing up. See? Amazing guy.

Without further ado, here are some of the life lessons that my dad has taught me!

  1. Stay positive. You could tell my dad the world is ending and I bet he’d say, “Well, it was great while it lasted.” He’s just that kind of person. The glass is typically half full, and whenever I vent to him about issues or problems, his perspective reminds me that things are never as bad as they may seem in the moment. And you know what? He’s usually right.
  2. Your best is good enough. Growing up, if I failed at something, my dad would never get mad. He’d simply say, “Did you try your hardest?” If my answer was yes, he’d say that was good enough.
  3. Save, save, save. I regularly will get texts from him with links to articles about the importance of saving money, and strategies for doing so. He’s engrained this into my habits, which I have to thank him for, because I’m actually pretty proud of what I’ve been able to save thus far! It’s key for a rainy day, but also for later in life. Which leads me to…
  4. It’s never too early to think about retirement. 401K? IRA? Whatever it may be, put away what you can. You’ll thank yourself later.
  5. Be loyal. Hands down, my dad is one of the most loyal people I know. His best friends have been his best friends for decades. He and his twin sister are two little peas in a pod. (Isn’t that adorable?!) He loves his wife, kids and grandkids. He knows his people, loves them, and is fiercely loyal to them no matter what.
  6. Keep active. The guy works out almost every day!
  7. Time spent is the best gift. It’s priceless.
  8. Long walks on the beach are good for the soul. Some of our best life chats have taken place on Florida beach walks.
  9. Love someone? Show it. Whether it’s goofing around with Gracie or holding my step-mom’s hand, my dad isn’t shy of showing affection. I love this about him; you often hear of men having a hard time with this, but I think it’s pretty cool that he’s proud of those he loves and isn’t afraid to show it. A little side story: My parents are divorced, and so growing up my brother and I split our weekend time between them. On his weekends, my dad would pick us up in his car, and on the drive he’d hold my hand. He’d always give “three squeezes” during the drive – one, two three – which meant “I love you”. I always think of this and smile; it was our own special thing.
  10. Honesty is the best policy. You can never go wrong with honesty, even if it’s an uncomfortable conversation.
  11. Always leave your house clean when you go on a trip. It makes coming back home a heck of a lot easier.
  12. Like yourself. (In a humble way, of course) Being comfortable in his own skin is something my dad has embraced really well. It’s a great thing to have confidence and genuinely like yourself; after all, you’re the only you you’ve got!
  13. Be comfortable hanging out with yourself. Alone time can be rejuvenating.
  14. Generosity goes far. If there’s an opportunity to give, he’ll take it. I mean this far beyond money. Growing up, he never missed a game of my siblings or I. He loves taking the family on vacations. He’s driven to Chicago countless times to do Doug and I favors like helping babysit Grace or helping us move. So, so giving.
  15. Call people just to say “Hi”. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation. The call alone is enough.

I love you, Dad. And, for the record, we really are great dancers. Everyone else is just jealous that they can’t do the robot quite like us.

Be sure to swing by Kelly’s post to read about the life lessons her dad has taught her! And, wishing an early Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Mothers are amazing, but you all are our rocks, and deserve all of the love, cigars, and beers you can drink on your day. 😉

PS – In case you missed it, be sure to check out “15 Life Lessons I Learned From My Mom


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5 thoughts on “15 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

  1. Kit Spoelstra

    So beautifully written. You are the apple that does not fall far from the tree. A wonderful, incredible twin, my brother Mike. I love him dearly
    I love you, Emily, for you. I love that your father is close to your heart. And, like your father, I love to dance. So glad that we VanderBeeks dance like no one is watching as Mime would cheer. Love, always, Aunt Kit


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