As parents, we can have a profound impact with the lessons we impart on our kids. It makes me think about the most important lessons I learned from my own parents. So, for Father’s Day, here are my top 3 life lessons I learned from my Dad that I hope to pass on to my own children…
See also: 3 Parenting Lessons From My Mom
 “Learn for a lifetime.”
My Dad really emphasized the importance of lifelong learning. He instilled this in our household from an early age. He emphasized reading, exploring, teaching, and pursuing what interested us.
Thinking of getting a PhD? Great idea. Taking a class outside your comfort zone? Awesome. Getting good grades? That’s helpful, but the more important thing is to learn the material. He always put learning at the top of our family priority list.
My Dad used to tell me stories of his own college and medical school, where he’d sometimes skip the classes and instead read the textbook 3 times. “In a textbook, the author has really thought through the material and organized it for learning.” My Mom used to tell me that he carried Biology books with him to the beach when they were dating years ago.
I hope I can pass along this lesson to my own kids. Not only is learning a necessary component for our “McDuffs can do anything!” family mantra, but it’s also an important part of living a full life.
 “Discover and pursue your talents and interests.”
My Dad also emphasized discovering and pursuing our talents and interests. We were encouraged to try a wide range of activities as kids, and then encouraged to nurture those that we liked.
I remember a tough decision I had in graduate school, about what area of economics to focus on. I remember my Dad’s advice in a text: “Choose your favorite area, even if it’s difficult. From interest comes passion, and from passion comes success.” My Dad later explained that “Happiness flows from engagement and discovering what interests you.” Well said, sir!
It can be tricky for parents when our children’s interests don’t match our own. I initially struggled to understand why my kids didn’t love soccer the way I did. In the end, we all know that each child is different and has to find whatever activities resonate with them.
 “Stand up for what you believe in”
A third lesson that stuck with me is standing up for what you believe in. This isn’t one that my Dad taught us explicitly, but one that I saw him practice again and again.
My Dad always stood up for his principles, even when it involved significant personal cost. He would stand up to people who weren’t doing the right thing. He would never budge if someone wanted him to do something he wasn’t comfortable with. I’ve always admired this about him (and still do).
I hope my kids find principles that are important enough to stand for. There are few things more fulfilling than putting our whole selves behind an idea or concept that is bigger than we are. Even better if it makes the world a better place.
I remember an article I read years ago, from Men’s Health, about the “50 lessons you learn by the time you turn 50.” Here are three lessons from that article that stuck in my memory (I can’t find it anywhere, so here’s my best memory of it…):
- “Your Dad is not the flawless superman you thought he was.
- Your Dad is not the giant asshole you thought he was.
- Your Dad is just another guy, just like you are, doing his best to be a good parent and live a good life.”
I really liked this, because we can all think of the ups and downs we’ve felt about our own parents, but, in the end, I have deep gratitude for everything my Dad has done for me and all the amazing lessons he taught me over the years. I hope I can pass on some of his best life lessons to my own kids. Thanks Dad – I love you.