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July 08, 2009


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My dad never imparted wisdom to me. It was a bit of a tenuous relationship growing up. Now, with a grandkid it's all about her and that's how we speak. My mom on the other hand had more to say:

When you make a decision ask yourself how it will effect you. How will it effect others. Whose effect is more important -it changes each time.

If you decide to marry remember you marry the extended family too.

Look at how a man treats his mother if you are serious about him.

Study hard, educate yourself, be curious. Whatever you decide to do, give it your all.

It doesn't matter what degree you have, if in the end you don't know how to treat people with the respect they deserve.

You will get older one day too.

From me to my kid:
There's no reason for an unplanned pregnancy. If you can't talk to me then talk to a nurse, Planned Parenthood, or your two "go to Aunties" about getting protection.

If you are too embarrassed to walk to a pharmacy to buy your own condoms then you aren't ready yet.

It'll be tempting, oh so tempting to experiment with drugs. But don't fall into someone else's trap because you think they have accepted you. It is so inviting and can offer you an otherworldly place to be, but it is much harder to come back.

If he comes to pick you up he must ring the doorbell and step foot into the house, honking is not acceptable.

If he comes in a motorcycle he will have to your dad a ride first.

Try your best, say thank you, please, and write real thank you notes and send them. If you are thinking of someone let them know.


"Remember that nice guys do finish first. If you don't know that, then you don't know where the finish line is."

My parents both always taught me that the key to life is finding a nice guy. They are a rare breed that most women don't appreciate until they're gone.

Have you seen this?


Lonely Guy

Marry your best friend but just as importantly, be sure that you are her best friend too.

My wife is my best friend, but I suspect I'm not hers. Nothing makes me sadder.

Parry Headrick

"learn to cook one thing really well."


Hershey Desai

Lovely list.
I believe you can actually start telling your child some of these things at a very young age. So it get drilled in their heads.

I am not quite sure what I would tell my kids though...guess I will address that issue when the time comes.

One of the most valuable advice dad has given me, "Finish your studies first, stand on our own two feet...THEN fall madly in love."


never let anybody touch my private parts. that was probably one of the more important things my mom told me.

As a parent, never have too much pride to apologize to your kid.


Re: #4 My BIL was great to the waiters...he was charming, funny, and left a big tip. His family, on the other hand....
I'd add: observe how he treats waiters... and his family and friends.

the weirdgirl

This is a fabulous list and it's better to get it in now. When Peanut turns into a teenager she'll stop listening.

So the best advice my dad gave me (and my family is pretty seriously dysfunctional) was "question everything". If I came home from church saying "stealing is bad", my dad would ask me if a man stole bread to feed his family was it still a sin?


I love these! #4 and #20 are my personal favorites.

I completely disagree with #5. What's the fun in being a girl?


My Dad passed away last year, and I am very grateful for all of the advice that he imparted during my adolescence (though I may not have been at the time he spoke it ;))

One tidbit that really sticks with me is if someone asks you to take care of something, do it right away so you don't forget. That applies to so many situations that it's almost a way of life, no one (bosses, loved ones, friends, creditors) likes to come back and see that you've neglected the task at hand (finishing that report, clearing the dishes, returning a mix tape, paying a bill), don't just think about it, get up and get it done right away!

This advice has made me very responsible, reliable and accountable, and I owe my Dad every ounce of credit for it.


I will pass along to my daughter:

1) Do not ever be scared of anybody.

2) Don't respect age and don't respect everybody, but pretend to (and be convincing).

I wish someone had taught me earlier:

1) All the rejections in the world don't mean anything. It's the successes that count.

Best advice from my mom:

1) Don't give other drivers the finger, you might get yourself shot.

2) Don't wear that, you look like you are asking to be raped.

3) Don't go into a fraternity house bathroom, pee in the bushes if you have to go (see #2).

4) Watch oncoming traffic before walking around the front of your car parked on a busy street in front of pizza place. (If I hadn't, I would have been run over, as it was dar, rainy, and the car was an inch away from my car, speeding).

Best advice from my dad:

1) Get "A"s in school.

2) All men should let the woman walk ahead to the table in the restaurant.

3) Do things that you are good at.


The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

Mom (channeling Hemingway)


My parents are both relationship counselors so the advice I got from them was almost always based on how to deal with love. Seeing them together was so inspiring because how often do we see couples who are not only best friends but also are close enough to finish each others thoughts?

Here were their top words of wisdom to me when I was growing up...

(1) Always marry a good man who is an even better friend.

(2) You may not always be able to tell if you're with a good man. If in doubt, ask a child. They always know.

(3) Don't let true love pass you by. It's too rare and can only cause you a lifetime of regret.


Given from my dad when I was in a relationship in my early 20's with a girl ... "Familiarity Breeds Contempt"


The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.


Advice from my oldest brother: When you are driving somewhere, always stay ahead of everyone else!


My dad gives daily pieces of advice. Mind you, I'm 21 and is supposed to live by myself here in Manila but my dad insisted on living with me here so that he can fill up the days he was absent working abroad while I was growing up. I thought when I graduated college, he would go back to the province but he's willing to accompany me until I finish law school. And I appreciate every single second we are together.

Melanie (Modern Mami)

I would add "or doesn't open the door for you" to #4. Wonderful list you have here, though.

Miss Britt

This is phenomenal. And I'm a Cubs fan.

The one piece of advice I wish someone had given me and that I make sure to pass on to my kids:

*Someone loves you. Not because they gave birth to you or are required by low - but because you deserve it. That part is already covered.

Remember that when you're thinking of all the things you might do to make sure someone loves you.

jackie d.

I loved this list, MD. Wise words applicable to people of any age.


Completely off subject - congrats on the Mets setting a record. University of Alabama fans should have attempted this before we got Nick Saban. We have had very little to celebrate since 1992! :-)

Kimberly K.

"Life is too short not to order the fries."---I say this to my husband all the time! His reply? "Life is too short to have a fat ass."

Thankfully he's talking about his own.


Best list ever, MD. You're a keeper.


"When you realize that everyone comes from a dysfunctional family, life gets a little easier and you feel a little less crazy. The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well."

Man, if I had known this when i was growing up, life (and my relationships) would have been much easier. Better late than never. Thanks, MD.


"That 10 seconds of feel good, can be a lifetime of misery" That went for drugs, sex and any other foolish notion us teenagers had! Another one was " Life isn't short when you make the wrong decisions. Nope, life can be real long then!"


That advice about taking photos is brilliant!

My mum always said, "no sex before marriage"... then one day I asked, "what if I never get married?"

Then it changed to "serious relationship".

My dad taught me how to judge the quality of a magazine: the quality of the paper. Apparently "Playboy" has really good paper. I wouldn't know...


Awesome list, especially the thank you note advice. Some of mine (besides the same thank you note advice are):

Be on time. It shows respect for other people's time.

Eat dessert.

Its not a waste of time to reread a favorite book.

Do your best.

Be a mensch.


Great list

Always own up to your mistakes. Always.


Out of the many things my Dad taught me, this is my favorite...

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.


I love your advice, Molly Chase! That is so true.

John Lee

My Dad always believed, and applied it to me and my nine brothers and sisters:

"Never let your schoolwork get in the way of your education."


My dad tells me that I should never harbour ill intentions to hurt anyone but I should always protect myself no matter what... :)

deborah mourey

Thank you, I love this list. I raised one boy and one girl and I hope I taught them some of things on this list but esp. # 24, Find a way to earn a living doing something you love. You'll be the richest person in the room. a few others:

-you are what you do
-there is something to learn from everyone you meet
-look for a way, everyday, to make a difference in a stranger's life

most excellent.


that was hands down fabulous.

and now I miss my daddy.


When confronting my dad who had eaten several pieces of buttered toast he looked up at me and said, "sometimes you just get a hankering for toast and butter."

Damn straight.


1. never endanger your life or the lives of others

2. don't let the freezer run out of ice (see rule #1)


I am 11 days and counting away from the arrival of my first child, a girl and am thankful for this wonderful list. I am trying to be pragmatic in my advice to her so I'd like to add this one to the list. It's the same thing I told my wife every time she went out with friends for an evening whether a party, club or any social event.

Always leave with whomever you arrived with, never go to the restroom alone, don't return from the dance floor to retrieve an abandoned drink, and if accepting a drink from a guy, make sure it is poured in front of you by the bartender.

And from my uncle who has a daughter entering grad school.

You can't pick her friends, but you can make sure they are good people, they have a much stronger effect on her than you'd like.


My advice would be

1: Never blame others for your bad relationships, bad luck, bad employment, bad everything because the common demoninator in ALL of your lifes successes and failures is YOU.

2: Travel whenever possible and try everything once.

3: Absolutly everybody w@nks, never take sex to seriously.


I didn't take the time to read all of your comments, but clearly people liked this post.

Great advice for you daughter... all people really.

My mother told me if I do nothing else during the day, make sure I make the bed before my husband gets home because the entire house appears tidy when the bed is made.

I didn't get much advice either. More than anything, I want my kids to know they can choose whatever profession they want in life. I DQ'd things I truly desired because I didn't think they were options for "people like me".

Great post!


This was a truly inspiring post. I sat and read through every comment & I can't believe how many people have bad feelings towards their fathers... I guess I am one of the lucky few who has an amazing dad. I am a mother to two boys (2-1/2 and 5 mo.) and I have created my own list of advice to pass on to them.

Some posts were so sad: especially the guy who said to make sure your wife is your best friend but more importantly you are hers. And how he suspects he is not her best friend. That broke my heart.

Some advice I got from my parents:

- Never forget who you are and where you come from.
- Be careful what you say or what you tell someone because it could come back to haunt you. Words hurt.
- Get your education before you get married and have kids.
- Study hard.
- Always tell the truth - it's so much easier than having to come up with lie after lie to cover yourself.

Alan McC

Tattoos: The fastest way to tell people you're stupid without opening your mouth.

And from Ireland: When the drink is in the sense is out.

And: An eaten meal is soon forgotten.


Hmmm. Don't think my dad gave me any specific advice, but if I would have to 'translate':
- You can do better. But we love you anyway.
- Work should be something you don't mind doing while on holiday.
- You never have too many academic degrees to love comic books.


Great blog post. Here is another piece of advice-

"Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes"


From my mom:
Take those Benadryls with a couple of beers, you'll fall asleep faster. Maybe not a great idea, but true.
From my dad: Marry who you love, not who me and your mother like, and be nice to everybody you work with from the CEO to the cleaning staff. I always have and will, and it nauseates me how many people do not.

Dana Ricciardo

I have a 2yr old little girl and I am going to print this out and put it in her baby book so I know she will see it later in life when it really counts. My biggest thing I have learned in life is to just be happy. Do what makes you happy. When you make yourself happy, everyone else will be happy with you. Don't sit around waiting for someone to make you happy and don't ever try in vain to make someone happy. They also have to do that for themselves.


my grandfather gave me one (invaluable) piece of advice: "be good. but if you can't be good, be careful."


In all three of my kids rooms I have posted "Life is measured not by what you do, but what you do for others."

Renee Mikus

Thank you for this. I loved your idea so much that I made a list of my own and circulated it to my adult children....my daughter told me that she wishes she had this list 10 years ago. I told her that I didn't know all of the stuff ten years ago....I encouraged my children to add to it and I would post for all the family to see. We should update it every couple of years, as we learn more about life.

This is my list: 25 (more or less) life lessons for my daughers. I can't take credit for all of them, but I like to try and live my life by these rules.

1. Keep your credit good....it's like a GPA...you work hard to get the
score high, but one or two bad grades can really impact it and it takes
twice as long to get it restored.

2. Life is short.....knit. (fill in the blank)....do what you love to do.

3. Eat more chocolate. (see above explanation).

4. Always end a conversation with a loved one with "i love You." We've all
heard sad stories where people never got the chance to let their loved ones
know how they feel. Live your life so that if the world would end
today....that person would never doubt your love for them.

5. Follow your passion....if you pursue what you really love to do...you
will be able to make a living at it. Just look at me....God knows that social workers volunteer LOL.

6. Make sure that your occupation aligns with your value system.

7. Never date someone who would not make a good father (mother). If you
never date them.....you'll never marry them or have a child with them.

8. Make sure that your choice of life partners aligns with your value
system... Marriage is hard enough. The more you have in common, the less
you have to adjust to each other.

9. You know that you are with the right partner, when you like them more
and respect them the longer that you know them.

8. Don't smoke....if you do??? Quit. ' Nuff said.

9. Know that how you raise your children will reflect how they raise your
grandchildren. So....be kind to your grandchildren (even if they aren't yet
born).....by being good parents.

10. Never, swear at or disrespect your mate. Once you cross that
boundary, it gets easier the next time and before you know it....it becomes
a habit. While I'm on that subject....never threaten to leave or end the
relationship just because you are angry. For the same reasons....

11. Conversely....there are no trophies for remaining in a relationship if
you are truly miserable. (See # 2)....I strongly believe that one should
work hard to save their relationship, but if it is unhealthy....and your
efforts can't bring about a different result? Get out. If your partner
harms you? the same applies.

12. Oxygen mask moments.....take care of yourself first.

13. Ask to see the license, registration and auto insurance information of
your daughter's date. Advise him that you panic easily and imagine the
worst and you need the proper information to give to the police in the event
that they are late. Believe me, he will ensure that your daughter is home
on time.

14. Music is the universal language. Sing in the car...belt out your
favorite tune in the shower....or hum to the music in the store....in spite
of your children telling you that it embarrasses them.

15. Drive safely. There are no trophies for "making it through the light"
and no winners in the morgue.

16. Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some
kind of battle.

17. Be the light that you want to see in the world.

18. Listen to the voice in your heart, it is rarely wrong....the universe
talks to us.....pay attention. Your gut instincts are there for a reason.

19. Don't be afraid to be a trend setter. If you like it? Wear it with

20. Shop at sales racks, but have at least one nice outfit in your closet.

21. Pamper yourself once in awhile. Get your hair done, manicure/pedicure,
massage etc. It does wonders to restore your inner peace.

22. Be firm with your children, but not rigid. Lighten up a little.
Remember that they will become adults and you will laugh at this some day.

23. On that note...remember.....you never know when you are making a

24. When you feel your efforts fall on deaf ears and nothing you do
matters.....remind yourself that every day you are planting seeds.....you
never know which ones will take root.

25. Ask yourself.....will this matter one year from now??? One month from
now??? One week from now?? etc.

26. When your children are driving you crazy and you cannot wait for
bedtime: Remember the days are long but the years are short.

27. Be careful to give advice; wise men don't need it and fools won't heed

Sally Dore

My advice to my son: you look better than you think, you are more talented than you know and you are loved more than you realise. Let nothing and no-one tell you, that there is something in this world you can’t do.


Good list, especially the last one. If I ever have children I'll have a lot of advice for them, but the biggest thing I want to pass on is that "I'm human too, parents can make mistakes. If you think I'm wrong in something (or some day your child thinks it of you) have them talk to you about it maturely/ never be afraid to approach me about it. My answer might be final, it might change. Who knows?" It goes back to your last bit of advice, but too often parents say 'question everything/ authority/ don't be afraid to speak up/ have a mind of your own' and then tack on 'when it's convenient for me'.

Growing up I had a dad that would never change his mind, and usually would ground me for questioning him, and a mom that would change her mind to suit whomever was asking something of her, never overrule an unfair grounding but instead go behind his back and only accept responsibility if I was caught. Neither of which I want for my kid(s), and absolutely wouldn't want it for my husband.

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