My Father’s Best Advice

Over my 37 years on this spinning ball of ignorance my father has given me great advice. Stop calling your brother stupid. Get your elbows off the table. Don’t use your shirt, use a napkin! Blow your nose because if you snort one more time I’m going to hurt you! You’re grounded! Again! That last may not have actually been advice.

A bottomless well of knowledge, my father is.

I’m great at giving advice, but not so much at taking it. I don’t like being told what to do, even in the form of advice. Consequently, any time I’ve gotten advice from my father I accept it gracefully (mostly) and then ignore it. Like any good son does.

I’ve been trying to narrow down the best piece of advice my father has ever given me. I’ve culled my list to two, but I think that’s as far as I can take it. So, I’ll simply share two great pieces of advice my father has shared with me repeatedly, but I’ve many a time rolled my eyes at because, well, I don’t really know why.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Like any normal child (or abnormal, for that matter), I lied to my parents. I denied committing misdeeds. I told them I would do things I had no intention of doing. When I was in trouble, I swore I would never do it again. I said I would be home by curfew. I said I would try harder at school. I lied a lot.

Whenever I was caught in one of these predicaments, my father would always say, “Actions speak louder than words.” Of course, my stubborn teenage self shrugged, rolled my eyes, and said, “Yeah, whatever,” but he was right. Actions do speak louder than words and it’s a lesson I have finally come to learn through many trials and errors.

For most of my life, I didn’t listen to the actions of others. I listened to their words. In fact, I often paid no attention to the actions of others and took words at face value. That has gotten me into some very tough situations, but after having been burned many times I’m finally paying attention to more than the words falling out of people’s mouths.

For instance, earlier this year I agreed to give Superbitch (my ex-wife – again, her chosen moniker – I didn’t make that up) another chance. She said all the right things. She had changed, she said. She knew what she wanted. She loved me. She had settled down. She now preferred to stay at home instead of going out all the time. She said all the right things.

I gave her her chance, but I was wary of her. She had told me all these things before. The first couple of weeks were great. Then I had a depressive episode.

Many of you know that depression makes you sad for no reason at all. Everything in the world can be going right for you, but depression rears its ugly head and says, “Be sad, motherfucker!” and you’re sad. There is no rhyme or reason to this madness.

Superbitch thought I was mad at her despite my repeated assurances otherwise. From that point on, her interest in our relationship did not exist. There was no affection. There was no interest in spending time with me. She started going out with her friends frequently again. When I brought these things to her attention she assured me that she still wanted us to work, but her actions told me otherwise.

This time, instead of listening to her words I listened to her actions, which didn’t change even after having a second talk with her about my concerns. So I made the decision to part ways with her, and haven’t looked back.

See, Dad? I finally took your advice…years afterward. Better late than never, amiright? RIGHT???

Be Sure BRAIN is Engaged Before Putting MOUTH In GEAR

Dad used to have a sign in his office at work that said this, or something similar to it. He took every opportunity he could to recite that phrase to me, because I often said stupid shit. This is another piece of advice I wouldn’t take to heart for almost 20 years.

When Superbitch initially left me in August of 2012, I was a clusterfuck of emotions. I was sad, lonely, depressed, bitter, angry, and drunk. In my rage I said many uncouth things to my future ex-wife. Horrid things I can’t take back, but wish I could. I called her unsavory names and wished ill things upon her. I meant none of those things, really, but was simply lashing out because I was in pain.

Superbitch handled it with grace, mostly. Instead of flinging hatred back at me she asked me to stop. She told me I was hurting her. And finally, she pointed out that I was behaving like my first wife, and that’s when the gravity of what I was doing hit me like a kick in the groin.

She was right. My goal was to get her to come home and I was never going to accomplish that by hurling demeaning epithets and telling her I hoped awful things befell her. So I stopped. When I was upset I forced myself to really think about what I was going to say before I said it. And wouldn’t you know it a funny thing happened. We actually had productive dialogue. Weird, eh?

I made it a point from that moment on to really consider the consequences of any words I speak before I utter them. That sticks and stones nonsense is bullshit. Words can hurt. Especially when hateful, bitter words are hurled by people you love.

My father is an extremely intelligent man and knows what he’s talking about. Just don’t tell him I said so. Despite our past differences he’s given me great advice over the years, most of which I disregarded because I seem to have an innate preference for learning things the hard way. People share their experiences with me. They give me their advice. Until I experience something firsthand, however, it just doesn’t seem to sink in. I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, so I attribute this to severe stubbornness.

But hey, at least I learn eventually, right?

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About Twindaddy (336 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

51 Comments on My Father’s Best Advice

  1. Good advice. But no child I’ve ever known (or been) listens until they learn the hard way that they need to!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The actions speak louder bit is one I see so many people not getting well into their 60d and 70s, sadly. Given the choice between having faith in a sweet-talkiny asshole and a gruff-talking sweetheart, people lean time and again toward the asshole. It’s almost like it’s hard wired into us to want to believe the words, no matter what actions reveal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The important stuff is always learned painfully. Sad, but true.

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  4. I’m one of the stubborn few who hate being told what to do. Some people swear I’m worse than what I am about it, but a lot of times, their advice just sucks. That’s why I don’t listen to it. But sometimes, the advice is good advice, and I just think it sucks at the time. While I love your father’s advice, I’d like to append the second one. Make sure your heart is in the right place too. When we speak from a hateful viewpoint, no matter how hard we think about it, the hate will still spill into the words. But if we talk from our hearts, where we are honest with what we really want, and it’s not that you hate someone as much as they hurt you somehow, and you can admit that you still care about them even if things weren’t meant to be, then that spills out over the words, even if you use rotten words. And definitely actions speak louder than words. My issue is I still like to give people the benefit of the doubt, even if I know what they are going to do next from their pattern-filled actions of the past. Sometimes we make sacrifices because we know, deep down inside, it’s the right thing to do. Because we know we would want to be given another chance.

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    • I do think people deserve second chances. Sometimes even a third. But after a while I just don’t have any chances left to give, especially if I already know which way the road is going to lead.

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  5. yea you are suborn… but I think so are we all…. The good advice that you just would not take…. Happy that it is still applicable and that you have finally recognized it…. and thank you for adding those buttons I asked for… 🙂

    This post kind of reminds me of this song!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think we all have learning scars.

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  7. Kristi Campbell - findingninee // November 14, 2014 at 4:21 pm // Reply

    I didn’t listen to my dad when I was a kid very much either. I also lied like a mofo. I like the advice that actions speak louder than words. It’s so true – and one that I think many people need multiple lessons to get – words, when they’re the ones we want to hear, are easy to believe. I really like the reminder to engage my brain before opening my mouth too! Thanks mucho for linking up this week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Too many people are careless with their words. Many people believe words are just words. I used to be one of them. But words have power and we should use them carefully.

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  8. Good advice. I’ve mostly learned the hard way, too…and will likely continue to do so.

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  9. You know what I love? How you rolled your eyes like a normal teenager, thought your dad’s advice was meaningless at the time… and you remember it and have put it into practice in ways that have had real impact on your life! That’s awesome.
    And the statistic I heard recently about teenagers is that 96% of them lie, usually for no perceived benefit at all! So yes. Normal :).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. my father never really doled out sage advice. His only steadfast rule for his teenage daughter was to never come home with anything I didn’t leave with. Lemme tell ya, that was damn difficult to follow. I figured what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

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  11. It does take years to finally “see the light” doesn’t it? Having your own kids speeds that process up a bit too. I cannot wait until my kiddos “get it” and understand what we have been trying to tell them. Better late than never is right! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am already in the habit of letting my 10 year old do stuff I know will blow up in his face (NOT LITERALLY) because I know he will not listen to my advice, but will learn from his own experience. It is sure hard sometimes to not be able to impart the wisdom of my own mistakes instead.

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  13. What I think is really positive is that you are learning. Even if it took a really long time for you to recognize the wisdom in your Dad’s sayings, it’s clear that you are making healthy changes in how you live your life and relate to people. Yay!

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  14. Whenever I get advice, I think to myself ‘but they don’t know everything but they aren’t me, hence, I don’t have to listen to it, right?’
    Which I still think is right, but it doesn’t help you out at all. Your father as you say gives good advice indeed though, late is better than never indeed!

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    • True, each situation has its own unique circumstances, but there are still lessons to be learned from other situations if you’re open to them. Being open to them is the trick, though.

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  15. “This Spinning Ball of Ignorance” should be the title of your book, brother.

    Why don’t we listen when we’re young? We all so fucking smart, aren’t we? I talk to my daughters and try to make them understand but they don’t give a damn what I say. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But it does get better. That’s what I’m hanging my hopes on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know. I wouldn’t listen to anyone at all when I was young. Didn’t matter who they were. It’s funny. The older I get the more I realize I DON’T know.

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  16. I think we all learn the hard way – even with the best advice in the world. I’m a ‘two feet in at the deep end’ type. My mum rolls her eyes a lot when I tell her about the scrapes I get myself into…

    Glad you got some solid advice from your dad though 🙂 My dad’s the one to ask about anything culinary, which is pretty cool really.

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    • My dad is good in the kitchen, too. Fortunately I seem to have gotten my culinary skills from him instead of my mother, who, as you know, sets kitchens on fire….

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  17. We rarely listen to our parents… and some cases grandparents…advice. I was also one of those typical teenagers. I HATE being told what to do. On the other hand I find myself giving the exact same advice to my daughter who is 27. Consequently I heard her give the SAME advice to her boyfriend’s niece who is now 14. I was amazed and flattered all at the same time! OMG! She DID listen to me! When I pointed this out…all I got was “yeah, yeah…shut up!” LMAO!
    I’m so sorry you deal with depression…..been there! (am still there sometimes) It is so difficult to make someone who doesn’t suffer understand. They think you can just “snap out of it” or just choose not to be? Well…if it was THAT easy, hell there would be no need for meds, or therapy, huh?
    Loved your post Scott! Good advice 😉

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    • Thanks, Courtney! It IS tough for people without depression to understand. The sadness we experience is different than the sadness a person without depression experiences. It’s not simply a matter of mind over matter. If only it were that simple.

      I, too, have found myself repeating a few of the things my father told me to my children, most notably the mantra of, “if you want it you have to work for it.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is especially difficult to make someone understand when you don’t really have anything to be “sad” about *sigh*
        Also great advice but this generation is all about immediate gratification! I want it, you should provide it and the world owes me!? WTF? Uhm…..NO! just NO! :-/

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  18. Actions speak louder than words is one of my favourite adages. So simple yet so true.

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  19. I think there are WAY TOO many of us who should not engage mouth before brain. There should be some way to fix that with all this genetic engineering going on!

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  20. It does rather take a while to get a grip on the facts, doesn’t it?

    But then, when we’ve learned stuff the hard way, we can at least sympathise with those around us who also can only learn the hard way.

    Liked by 1 person

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