Stuff your Dad said

-A A +A

On Father’s Day, we celebrate the role of our dads, sometimes honoring their sage advice with a new tie or a pair of socks. And, sometimes, for a Dad, there’s the honor of passing along the lessons he learned from his father.

By Todd Martin

Whether it’s the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia, Dia del Pare in Andorra, Festa del Papáin Italy or Ziua Tatalui in Romania, the world recognizes Father’s Day.


You can celebrate it bundled up on Feb. 23 in Russia or as a rite of spring on May 8 in Tonga. Maybe you prefer our summer cookouts on the third Sunday in June (it’s the 19th this year) or would rather opt for a nice autumn day in Luxembourg on the first Sunday in October.

But whatever the day, don’t forget your vader, pére, padre or pai.

He taught you about hard work, the value of a dollar, how to hit a curveball and to always, always have a firm handshake and look people in the eye.

He likely passed on a few more lessons —more than a few that you don’t even realize you’ve learned yet — but what’s the best advice? Well, that varies from father to child and family to family.

We asked a few for their thoughts.


Gen. Ronald R. Van Stockum


As Father’s Day approaches, I must admit a prejudice in favor of mothers. Mother’s Day has always been more meaningful to me for it is the mothers who bear and nurture the children and establish a pattern for their lives, especially in the early years.

I am reminded of the traditional Boy’s Day in Japan, which, as I recall, was still celebrated as such on May 5th during my three-year tour of duty in Tokyo and Gifu in the mid 1950s.  The Japanese displayed beautiful carp windsocks flown outside of homes to wish sons a good future.  Now this day is celebrated as Children’s Day.

Father's Day in the United States is the third Sunday of June. It celebrates the contribution that fathers and father figures make for their children's lives. Its origins may lie in a memorial service held for a large group of men, many of them fathers, who were killed in a disastrous mining accident in Monongah, West Virginia, in 1907.

Like all fathers, I have had plenty of advice to pass on to my sons, perhaps too much. However, I have frequently come back to Shakespeare.  How can any father do better than Polonius, in Hamlet, who advises his son Laertes who is leaving for France:


And these few precepts in thy memory

See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,

Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade. Beware

Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,

Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;

Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,

But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;

For the apparel oft proclaims the man,

And they in France of the best rank and station

Are of a most select and generous, chief in that.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;

For loan oft loses both itself and friend,

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.



Rob Rothenburger


As any dad can attest, a father’s work is never done.

After mowing the grass, changing the oil in the car and helping raise a child, comes being a grandparent.

“I grew up on a farm and that was something very important for me to pass on,” said County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger. “I wanted my kids to know what it was like when I grew up, my dad grew up and my grandfather grew up, and that’s something I want to pass on to my grandchildren now.”

Rothenburger said passing on the value of family to his daughters, Casey DeSimone and Jessie Smith, was always key.

“I wanted them to know that it’s important to work hard, but spend as much time as they can with family, because before too long they’re all grown up with families of their own,” he said.

Now, that has extended to spending time with his granddaughter Addison DeSimone, 2, and grandson Luke Smith, 9 months.

As with life on the farm, Rothenburger doesn’t want his grandkids to become complacent.

“I want them to understand they need to get out as much as they can, explore their country and the world around them,” he said. “And take advantage of as much training and experience as they can.”

The world has changed since his days as boy, he said.

“They’re not going to start one job and retire there,” he said. “The world is changing, and I want them to continue to grow and learn and continue to develop their skills.”

But above all, like making sure farming continues to run in the family, he know it’s up them.

“They have to take hold of their own destiny, and find out what’s out there for them.”



Jeremiah Heath


Becoming a father can be scary, exciting and electrifying, but the one thing it can be is predicted.

As a father of young children, especially the first one, you never know what’s coming around the next turn.

You hope, you plan for what you think is coming but in reality there’s no way to tell.

“I’m looking forward to helping them learn life’s lessons. I want to see them learn and mature and become their own person.”

At least that’s Jeremiah Heath’s plan for helping his children, Atreyu, 2½, and Amara, 7 months, explore their future.

But what he can do is help shape the way they look at the world.

“My wife [Chandra] and I are strong Christians, and I want to instill those values in them — help them believe in themselves.

“I want them to believe that there is always hope. If they can stay positive and keep moving forward, there is always hope in life.”

He knows there will be bumps along the way, but looking ahead, he’s excited to watch and help them grow.

“For me, I had to realize I could either make wrong choices or right choices, but either way I had to live with the decisions I made. And by the grace of God, I think I’ve made mostly right choices. I can’t wait to see my kids learn that and make their own decisions. We’ll just cross our fingers that we’ve helped show them the right decisions to make.”