The Wisdom of a Father

alex atkins bookshelf wisdom“When I was a boy of fourteen,” once wrote American humorist Mark Twain, “my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” If you are a father, this quotation brings a knowing smile to his face. Of course, only a parent knows that he hasn’t changed in seven years: rather, it is the child who come to understand — through actual life experience — that he should listen to and respect his father’s wisdom because he has lived longer, and with age comes wisdom. In many cases, those life lessons from a father form a firm foundation upon which the edifice of a child’s life is built — and his influence, however subtle, will last a lifetime.

Speaking of that ceaseless paternal influence, there is an insightful and touching essay by motivational speaker and author Mike Robbins titled “Trusting the Synchronicity of Life.” Upon turning 40, Robbins reflected on the the synchronicity of his life — connecting the dots of his life in hindsight. However, the celebration of his 40th birthday also presented an opportunity to honor the legacy of his deceased father, Ed Robbins, who instilled in Mike and his sisters, valuable and enduring life lessons. Mike recounted how one of his sisters presented him with a list of 40 life lessons, titled “Life According to Ed Robbins,” that Mike had written shortly after his father passed away in 2001. Shrouded by the inevitable “memory fog” of middle age, Mike had completely forgotten about this; he explained, “Amazingly, I had no memory of writing it. But, apparently after my dad died, I made a list of some of his key philosophies and lessons, as a way to remember, honor, and memorialize him. Even more amazing to me than the fact that I didn’t remember writing it… was the nature of what I wrote. So much of the advice on the list, which came from my father and what he taught me and all of us, is similar to the core themes of my work… However, reading this list of life advice and reflecting back on the lessons he did teach me, I’m not only struck by a deep sense of gratitude for what he taught me, but I’m also blown away by the way in which he influenced my life and my work, even more than I’d realized.” Robbins generously shares the life lessons of his father, and by doing so, not only honors his life, but keeps his memory alive. It is also a testimony to the enduring influence of a kind, giving, and wise father who continues to guide his children even after he shuffled off his mortal coil.

The Hebrew Bible, through the Ten Commandments (known as the Decalogue), reminds us to “honor thy father and thy mother (Exodus 20:12). As Father’s Day approaches, perhaps this list of important life lessons will inspire children — of any age — to take a moment and write down the important philosophies and lessons that their father (living or deceased) has taught them. If your father is still alive, then give him this list as a gift and say something along the lines of: “These are the lessons that you taught me, that live inside me — they are your gifts to me. My gift to you is to honor you by remembering these lessons, to use them to guide my life, and to pass them to another generation. Thank you for your wisdom, love, and guidance.” Undoubtedly, this will make a much more appreciated gift than another necktie.

Life Lessons From Ed Robbins

Speak from your heart

Wear your heart on your sleeve

Be passionate and outspoken — do not let anyone stifle your expression

Have love be your top priority

Give kind, positive feedback as often as you possibly can

Remember that you are not your accomplishments — you are you, and people love you for who you are, not what you do

Remember that it’s okay to cry, in fact it’s good to cry often

Hugs and kisses are beautiful and greatly appreciated

Be grateful for your family and always stay connected with them

Make sure you “kiss and make up” after a fight

Cheer loudly at baseball games and always stand up when someone hits one you think might go out of the park

Stand up for the people that you love and be willing to fight for them, if necessary

Root for all your local sports teams — even if you have more than one team from the same sport near where you live

Drive slowly and carefully

Wait for all lights to change before crossing the street

Talk to strangers

Appreciate the beauty of where you are

Never get off the phone with someone you love without saying “I love you.”

Before saying something rude or contradictory, first say “with all due respect…”

Laugh loudly and often

Do not be afraid to get fired up, passionate, and raise your voice when necessary (and even sometimes when not so necessary)

Take lots of photos of people you care about and keep them organized

Save things that are important to you

Be romantic and remember important dates, experiences, and events

Sing the words to songs that you love

Read the newspaper and know what is going on in the world, in sports, in entertainment, and more

Have an opinion on everything!

Be willing to admit when you made a mistake

Forgive yourself and others

Be kind and loving to yourself first

Tell the truth

Stay true to yourself

Appreciate people

It is okay to swear sometimes

It is what’s on the inside that counts

It’s okay to feel down and to feel scared

People are the most important things in life

There is no need to rush when you are eating, driving, or doing almost anything

Money is not that important

You can bounce back from anything

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Wisdom on an Immigrant Father
The Wisdom of Pi Patel
The Wisdom of Hindsight
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
What Valuable Lesson Has Life Taught You?

For further reading:
Bring Your Whole Self to Work by Mike Robbins
Nothing Changes Until You Do by Mike Robbins
Be Yourself: Everyone Else is Already Taken by Mike Robbins
Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation by Mike Robbins

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: