Living Columns & Blogs

Fathering: Words of advice are best when simple

Parents often provide advice to their children (probably more than kids want), but did you ever wonder if those pearls of wisdom really sink in and affect their daily lives? Certainly, there are times when in-depth discussions are required as these generally deal with bigger decisions. But in the course of our daily exchanges with our children, I believe simple words of advice are better.

Growing up, my father would always give one word of advice to my siblings and me every time we parted ways. The word was watch,” and depending on my age, this advice took on different meanings. As a young child, I took it to mean to look both ways before crossing the street and not to talk to strangers. As a high school and college student, it meant to choose my friends wisely. Later on, “watch” was code for making smart decisions.

Following in my father’s example, I too strive to keep advice simple and consistent. Here are a few things you may want to consider as you guide your children.


▪ Recall the best advice you ever received. Can you summarize the advice in a few words or sentences? Have you provided this same advice to others?

▪ Understand that advice is often freely given but not always freely received.

▪ Choose your words wisely — they can hurt or heal.

▪ Depending on the situation, you may want to use a famous saying, a motto or a personal story to make it memorable.

The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides monthly Action Ideas to stimulate conversation between fathers and parents. For more information, or to join local conversations, contact David Eggebeen at, Robert Orndorff at, Mick Trombley at, Chris Dufour at, Mark Oleynik at, Doug Loviscky at, or Marc McCann at