Father Knows Best: Our Dads Solve Our 8 Most Pressing Dilemmas

We’re always running to our moms for advice and wise words, but you know what? Despite their mysterious, often silent presences, our dads possess loads of wisdom too. We rounded up some of our most pressing existential queries and asked our dads to give us their takes. First, let’s meet the dads:

  • Megan’s dad DAVID raised two lovely, relatively capable daughters by himself. When he’s not consulting on corporate training, he spends his days reading quietly, misplacing his glasses and going for contemplative swims in the lake.
  • Julie’s dad STU is a retired nuclear engineer, which yes, makes him basically Homer Simpson. He enjoys gardening, sitting by the pool and offending Red Sox fans.
  • Ami’s dad ZAC is the most intellectual jock from Brooklyn you’ll ever meet. A former college basketball player turned successful business man, enjoys taking the dog to Starbucks and spending time with his wife and two kids. He can still dunk.
  • Jessica’s dad RUSSELL is a retired father of five and grandfather of four, who lives, feeds the dog, and mows the lawn in suburban Connecticut. He emails Jess regularly to tell her funny jokes he heard on “Red Eye” and is really into being a Republican.
  • Winona’s dad DON is a retired monkey wrangler who lives in rural Oregon, and is on an endless quest to find the world’s best chocolate malt.

What they had to say surprised us. Check out their answers to our most crucial queries after the jump.

1. How do you decide what you want to do with your life?

DAVID: Stay open to possibilities. Don’t assume that you have to know when you are 25 or 30 that you need to know what you’ll do when you are grown up. Some of us are still discovering that. Life is full of changes, take them as they come.

DON: Occasionally I would sit myself down and take stock with an eye toward my future.  Then a really cool bug would appear and I would lose that battle and eventually the war.  The majority of what I have done w/ my life I consider to be accidental or too often, simply the inertia of whatever I was doing at the time.

ZAC: I don’t know,  I’m still learning everyday! Life is about passion and ability to take ACTION!

RUSSELL: Two rules. Do something that you enjoy, and, make sure it’s something you can earn a living doing. For example, you love to write, but you’re better off being paid to do it, than by becoming a starving poet looking for a publisher.


2. What’s the best way to deal with jerks?

DAVID: It’s probably best to try to ignore them as best you can. Reacting to them can often only encourage them.

STU: Once you realize you’re dealing with a jerk, walk away.  Nothing good can come from engaging (or getting engaged to) a jerk.   Jerks don’t know that they are jerks.

DON: “Jerks” usually need to be placed into context for a proper response. Drunk, old, young, male, female, volatility, friends (mostly theirs), etc.  First choice is distance, move away from them, close proximity = danger, particularly if they are able to push your buttons. Jerks tend to follow scripts in their heads that have worked for them in the past.  If you can “take charge” and mess with their agenda enough they will often move on and/or shut up. Failing that, carry a Taser and put them on the ground.

ZAC: Ignore them and avoid them if possible! Even if they are family. LOL.

RUSSELL: Most jerks are too stupid to be influenced by words of wisdom, so my advice is to nod politely as you exit.


3. Is there a motto or bit of wisdom that has helped guide you through life?

DAVID: Ask questions. Test your assumptions. Try to stay true to yourself and what’s important to you.

STU: 1) Keep breathing! 2) Avoid the jerks. 3) Work hard and play hard.

DON: Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sing best.”––Henry Van Dyke. “I have always been upset by the unfairness in life, until I realized that this unfairness is a good thing, and to enjoy it. If life were fair, then all the rotten things that happen to you would be deserved.”––script line from “Babylon V.” “What’s right is what’s left after you do everything else wrong.”––Robin Williams

ZAC: ‘If you think you can, you can, if you think you can’t, you won’t.” — Henry Ford

RUSSELL: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


4. What kind of qualities should we be looking for in a perspective life partner?

DAVID: One of the big qualities I would look for is someone who can allow you to be you.

STU: Find an intelligent partner.  There is too much stupidity all around you most of the time – you definitely don’t need it at home.  Trustworthiness is important. Your partner should be compassionate and even tempered.  Also,  a bonus quality would be someone who is a good cook…

DON: Honesty, integrity, sense of humor, ability to roll with the vicissitudes of life. “Love is not blind — it sees more not less. But because it sees more it chooses to see less.” — Rabbi Julius Gordon.

ZAC: The ability to be passionate and understanding! They must be an active participant, not an onlooker. They should be part of the solution, not the problem!

RUSSELL: Somewhat similar backgrounds and values. You probably wouldn’t be happy with a cowboy with a bunch of big smelly cattle that had to be fed every day.


5. What’s the secret to getting along with mom (so I can steal it)?

DAVID: If there only was one. What can I say — other than perhaps letting her have her way. Though that’s not fair to you.

STU: The better question is, “How in this world does mom get along with me?”  We recognize our differences and we respect each other.     We also live in a big house with plenty of space…

DON: To finally realize that I am not a linear thinker, particularly when confronted by someone who is.  That I am more intuitive than I have ever been loath to admit. To know that I am more of a tactical thinker than a strategic one as Mom is. And to tell and show her in a non-linear, intuitive and tactical way every day, that I love her.

RUSSELL: Realize that you have to be willing to compromise, to somehow match her unrealistic ideas with my practical sense.


6. What’s a good way to let a guy down gently?

DAVID: I am not sure that there is a good way.

STU: I can’t relate to “gently”.   All that matters is honesty and truthfulness.

DON: Assuming this has to do with; “it’s over.”  Then, as straight forward, gentle, honest, and timely  a manner as possible.  Especially if reconciliation is nowhere on the horizon.

RUSSELL: Polite but firm. Agreeing to “try one more time” is a waste of time if your mind is already made up.


7. What’s the best hangover cure you can think of?

DAVID: A cheese omelet at at the Hyde Park Deli in Chicago. At least that what we used to think back in the day. Then of course there is the option of limiting your consumption so that a hangover will not happen. But I guess that’s not entirely viable right now.

STU: Sleep.

DON: Never had one. Since I do not like alcohol and therefore can only say do not drink. “The church is near, but the road is icy. The bar is far, but we will walk carefully.” — Russian Proverb.

ZAC: Getting a piece of the dog that bit you the next morning, then saying, “Never again.”

RUSSELL: I always had an exceptional capacity for alcohol, so I never had a hangover.


8. What’s one thing that you think women don’t understand about men? 

DAVID: That we really do have feelings and emotions, even if we don’t always express them.

STU: That is a secret that  men will ever share with women.

DON: I need to check the “Bro code” at NSA, before I comment on this. … I have been sitting here for thirty minutes trying to come up with “one thing!”  How pathetic is it that I can not conjure up one thing that men would want women to know?  Perhaps, how the atavistic urge to go forth, out of a real man-cave, to kill a mastodon, has been sublimated into the burp-fart aesthetics of weekend warriors and as self-perceived weekday drones.


RUSSELL: Men occasionally just want some peace and quiet to unwind and catch their breath.

What would your dad say? Share with us in the comments!