Celebrating Father’s Day over the weekend got us thinking; what’s the best advice we’ve heard from our dads?
“Save money, I’m not going to live forever!”
My dad loves to remind me this every day when he sees me spending money on clothes and food and it always cracks me up. It’s such a dad thing to say. I should probably take his advice but right now, I just hope he lives for a very, very long time.
“Main thing is not to worry and not to marry!”
He told this to me when I moved out to do my Masters. I was struggling with my studies and going through a very hard time with my ex which eventually led to a breakup and every time I called Thathi to say ‘I don’t think I can keep going’ or that I’m finding it really hard; he would just laugh and say this. I guess it’s his way of saying don’t take things too seriously. Now, every time I find myself in a difficult situation or I doubt myself, I can just hear his voice in my head!
“Education over everything else, always! They can take everything away, but they can never take your education away”
He said this to me when I was feeling really demotivated that I had lost an opportunity I had felt I deserved, and he reminded me that certain things in life are beyond my control because it depended on other people’s decisions and actions and that the only thing I could control were my own. He told me to arm myself with the knowledge and education that would make it impossible for them to prevent me from these opportunities. It made me realise that materialistic things can disappear at any moment – you can go from having everything to nothing and the only way out of a situation like that is a good education. What he said became really ingrained in me and it's definitely one of my core values. I constantly push myself to learn new things now.
“Take risks in life or else, you will end up regretting it”
He always reminds me that if an opportunity presents, take it – even if it is risky. I always turn to his guidance with my work, and he respects my decisions and choices even if they are risky and encourages me to take that risk confidently. Because of his advice, I made the major decision not to complete a professional qualification that would have taken me a lot a time and go abroad instead. In the end, it really paid off because I didn’t waste time and I am doing something I’m passionate about.
“Always under promise and over deliver”
My dad told me this at a time when I was so worried about having to tell my relatives my results. His solution was to tell them I’m expecting grades below what I actually was, and it was just our way of escaping the curious aunties! As a child I was more pressurized by what society may think of what I achieved rather than what I really achieved, and I was always very ambitious. While I had no pressure from my parents to get certain grades, I was one of those people who always wanted 9A’s and 3A’s. This was one of my dad’s many fun ways of helping me out. Whenever someone asked me what results I was expecting I would just say ‘I just want to pass’ and I’d wink at my dad.
“Righty tighty, lefty loosey”
I recently lost my dad, and I can still hear him say this in a very joking voice.So now, each time I try to screw or unscrew something, I say it in that same way out loud. It’s something that’s super simple but it stuck with me and living alone, I’ve used it so much.
“Take it Easy”
My dad always says this whenever I’m stressing out about something. It reminds me to just take a step back, take a deep breath and re-evaluate. This always helps me relax a bit and remind myself that I should ‘take it easy!’
“You can always do it again; you have all the time in the world”
My dad said this when I was in the middle of my university finals and freaking out one evening thinking I had flunked the paper I sat for that day. He gave me a pat on the head and said "don't worry about it too much, akki. You can always do it again next year if you failed. You have all the time in the world." I love this attitude of his. Even in school we never had to be afraid about bringing a report card home if we hadn't done well- they were never pushy. Appachchi especially was the first person to point out that getting a bad grade wasn't the end of the world. It turned out that I didn't flunk that uni paper, but his advice was solid and something I think about when I worry too much even now - I can always try again!
“You will find the right person. But before you do, you will find yourself”
My dad used to say that even though he is always there for me, at the end of the day, it’ll be me who will save myself. And even when my heart gets broken and my wings need some fixing – he’ll always be there for me but just to remember that I already have everything I need to believe in myself and do great things. This was always so important to me because it was about self-love first and then finding intimacy with someone else.
“Look around and see what is happening”
When we drive around and travel, he would make us look outside the window instead of blasting music and I found that super annoying as a kid. But now that I’m older, I realized that he was just making us be more aware of what happens around us –little things like doggies trotting on the street, different people going about their day, the roads and the little landmarks – they all helped me to appreciate and understand my surroundings. Now when I’m in any situation I always take a minute to absorb what is happening around me. It allows me to judge the situation better and even helps me notice things that others don’t, especially when it comes to work.”
“It’s fine if life is complicated, as long as YOU don’t become complicated”
He advices me a lot but this sticks out the most for me because he said it at a point in my life where these few words really pulled me through – not only in defeat but also through glory. I think these words made me a simple, optimistic man. It has helped me a lot spiritually and to this day, I can just smile and wave during the good and bad times.
“There’s no luck, there is just doing your best”
Our whole family used to drive to work/school together in the morning and when I had an exam or a presentation, he would just say ‘do your best’ before I get out of the car. Never ‘good luck’ because he doesn’t believe in luck or aid or divine intervention. He believes that all that you do well is what you make. It has always pushed me to know that my success comes from my own hard work and not anywhere else. I know that whatever I do requires me to really work for it. So, because of him, I always try my hardest.
“Clean as you work men!”
My dad’s a professional chef and now, I’m also in the business of food. Growing up I can constantly hear him saying “Look at this kitchen! It’s like the garbage exploded, I would throw you out if you ever worked in my kitchen. Clean as you work!!”. And it worked! Now when I’m done cooking, the kitchen is clean, and I don’t spend hours crying over dishes! A classic brown parent teaching moment.
“Remember when dealing with people, there is a chance they are struggling, so be kind”
His advice helps me be more empathetic as a person and its something I remind myself everyday when I’m dealing with people. I think it also definitely influenced me in terms of picking a career – I became a psychologist! This is something I always remember especially in my line of work.
“They are just exams, don’t worry about it. There is more to life”
My dad used to say it when he would catch me studying late into the night – probably looking super stressed. It’s good advice, but I think at that point it stressed me out more!!
“Don’t expect help from someone who turned you down the first time”
When my father was very sick, no one helped us and he adviced me to not depend on anyone. His advice taught me a life lesson how to face any kind of situation by myself and I really value that.
“Always be happy with what you have”
I lost my dad 13 years ago to cancer and this advice always reminded me that life isn’t a wish granting factory, that you won’t always get what you want so to just be happy with what you have. When I was really small, I would compare myself to others and want certain materialistic things and my dad always used to remind me that there are kids out there who would want the very things I already have and that I should just be grateful and happy with what I do have.
“Always be charitable”
This advice has never failed me once! I’m not as generous as he is, but I’m trying to be better, do better and be less judgemental by giving what I can to whoever in want.
“There is no right moment, go ahead and do it!”
During my undergraduate days when I was offered a permanent position at a place I applied for, I was a little hesitant because I had a research and thesis to complete and my final exams were around the corner and when I told my dad that I didn’t know if it was the right time to do this, he just looked at me in the eye and said that ‘as a military officer, if there is one thing I learnt, it was that you win some and you lose some. Conviction is all that matters – go ahead and do it’. Thanks to him, I am now one of the best settled graduates of my class, working with an amazing set of colleagues with endless opportunities flowing my way.