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Quotations about Fathers

Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father! ~Lydia M. Child, Philothea: A Romance, 1836

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom. ~Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum, 1988, translated from the Italian by William Weaver, 1989

One father is more than a hundred Schoolmasters. ~Outlandish Proverbs, selected by George Herbert (1593–1633)

Fathers who share their children's growing time cannot grow old, cannot grow paunchy and stodgy and stiff even if they wished to, and who wishes to? Let another wear the dignity of the pompous front but not a boy's father. He doesn't have to. He wears the aura of young life. ~Angelo Patri, 1924

A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty. ~Author unknown, in the Boise, Idaho Spotlight, as quoted by The Reader's Digest, 1976

He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. Dad never was a money-maker, and, as nearly as I can make out, he never wanted to be. He worked mighty hard when he worked, but his real job was living. ~Clarence Budington Kelland, "It's Fun Being a Father," 1927

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys." ~Harmon Killebrew, 1984

A father carries pictures where his money used to be. ~Author unknown

My father, when he went, made my childhood a gift of half a century. ~Antonio Porchia (1886–1968), Voces, 1943–1966, translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin (1927–2019), c.1968

Henry James once defined life as that predicament which precedes death, and certainly nobody owes you a debt of honor or gratitude for getting him into that predicament. But a child does owe his father a debt, if Dad, having gotten him into this peck of trouble, takes off his coat and buckles down to the job of showing his son how best to crash through it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland, "It's Fun Being a Father," 1927

[F]athering is a man's second chance at living. ~Angelo Patri, 1924

That's what I always want you to be,
Without any frills, just Dad to me:
A sort of a pal, and the best of friends,
Someone to point where the roadway wends;
Someone to smile when my heart is sad,
The kind of a friend I need, just Dad.
~W. Dayton Wegefarth (1885–1973), "Just Dad," Rainbow Verse: A Book of Helpful Sunny Philosophy, 1919

The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature. ~Antoine-François, Abbé Prévost d'Exiles

You will find that if you really try to be a father, your child will meet you halfway. ~Robert Brault,

...there is wisdom in every man, in every father, in your father. And that's true whether you love him or despise him. ~Joseph Kita, Wisdom of Our Fathers, 1999

...being a dad heals wounds... ~Criminal Minds, "A Beautiful Disaster," 2016, written by Kirsten Vangsness and Erica Messer  [S11, E18, David Rossi]

And when my kite I wished to try,
Who held the string to make it fly,
While pleasure sparkled in my eye?
      My Father.
~Ann Taylor (1782–1866)

And in that moment Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later. For the first time he realized that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps, love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life. And now that boy, that good actor, had grown old and fragile and tired, wearier than ever at the thought of trying to hoist the Protector's armor back onto his shoulders again, now, so far down the line. ~Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities, 1987

I killed the monsters. That's what fathers do. ~F.K. Wallace, Stormfront, 2011

      Only he who has actually aided a child in his daily struggle to find himself, smoothed out his difficulties, searched for pleasant places for his straying feet, uprooted his aspirations, played with him, worked with him, laughed and cried with him, can sense the deep peace and satisfaction that rises out of the association. Nothing in the world quite comes up to it. Perhaps the best value in it is the training in unselfishness it brings to the father — no mean gift when one remembers that the loss of self finds the richer self.
      It is a great strain on one's middle-aged love of ease to devote oneself to a child. In little things and great he and his concerns must be thought of first or the cause is lost. The father who would taste the essence of his fatherhood must turn back from the plane of his experience, take with him the fruits of his journey and begin again beside his child, marching step by step over the same old road. ~Angelo Patri, 1924

The words that the father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world; but, as in whispering galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity. ~Jean Paul, 1806

Having a child ends forever a man's boyhood, if not his boyishness. Having a child means that the son has, in a real sense, become his father. Sons are for fathers a twice-told tale. ~Victoria Secunda, Women and Their Fathers, 1992

Who took me from my mother's arms,
And smiling at her soft alarms,
Showed me the world and nature's charms?
      My Father.
Who as we grew up day by day,
Would teach his children's minds to stray
Along fair learning's flowery way?
      My Father.
Who from each flower and verdant stalk,
Gathered a honeyed store of talk,
To cheer the long, delightful walk?
      My Father.
Not on an insect would he tread,
Or crush the snail or beetle dead;
Who taught at once my heart and head?
      My Father.
Who took me in the fields to walk,
And listened to my infant talk,
Making me chains of marsh-marygold stalk?
      My Father.
Who climbed with me the mountain's height,
And watched my look of dread delight
While rose the glorious orb of Light!
      My Father.
~Ann Taylor (1782–1866)

A father is always making his baby into a little woman. And when she is a woman he turns her back again. ~Enid Bagnold, 1969

Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor, Mama Day, 1988

But no matter what's said, there's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994

Father! to God himself we cannot give
A holier name!...
~William Wordsworth

The greatest gift I ever had
Came from God; I call him Dad!
~Author unknown

...fatherhood means... self-suppression and patient understanding and intelligent toleration. A little questioning, a little experimenting, a bit of experience and the growth goes forward. One of the recompenses of fatherhood is the absurd pride and gentle humility that grows out of the process. The fledgling has beaten you at your own game and while you squirm a warm glow fills your heart and a delighted grin spreads from brow to chin, from ear to ear. ~Angelo Patri, 1924

It is easier to become a father than to be one. ~German proverb

Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad. ~Author unknown, c. 1970s

The voice I used to love so well
      Is silent, still, for aye;
No more my woes it will dispel,
Nor all my boyish angers quell—
      My strength of yesterday.
Ah, daddy mine—a lad's best friend—
      E'en though you've gone from me,
I'll hear your voice at every bend
Of Life's long road, until the end
      Of God's Eternity
~W. Dayton Wegefarth (1885–1973), "The Silent Voice," Smiles and Sighs, 1910

Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. ~Ruth E. Renkel, in National Enquirer, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1985

Home is the place where the laughter should ring,
      And man should be found at his best.
Let the cares of the day be as great as they may,
      The night has been fashioned for rest.
So leave at the door when the toiling is o'er
      All the burdens of worktime behind,
And just be a dad to your girl or your lad—
      A dad of the rollicking kind...
~Edgar A. Guest, "Home and the Office," When Day Is Done, 1921

Keep daytime for toil and the nighttime for play,
      Work as hard as you choose in the town,
But when the day ends, and the darkness descends,
      Just forget that you're wearing a frown—
Go home with a smile! Oh, you'll find it worth while;
      Go home light of heart and of mind;
Go home and be glad that you're loved as a dad,
      A dad of the fun-loving kind.
~Edgar A. Guest, "Home and the Office," When Day Is Done, 1921

Father-in-love... ~Robert Balmanno (1780–1861)

Who made me feel and understand
The wonders of the sea and land...
Who filled my breast with classic flame,
And showed me Homer's sacred theme,
Till ancient Greece revived in dream?
      My Father.
~Ann Taylor (1782–1866)

Even in the best father-son relationships, there's an uncomfortable familiarity that inhibits us from talking like friends. ~Joseph Kita, Wisdom of Our Fathers, 1999

Love and fear. Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other. ~Joseph Joubert, 1795, translated by Paul Auster, 1983

There is no more pleasant thing to hear than when a father speaks words of praise to his son. ~Menander (c.342–c.292 BCE), translated by Francis G. Allinson, 1921

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. ~Author unknown  []

You don't have to deserve your mother's love. You have to deserve your father's. He's more particular. One's a Republican, one's a Democrat. The father is always a Republican toward his son, and his mother's always a Democrat. ~Robert Frost

      A mother's presence is the bedrock of a baby's existence. Their dialogue goes deep into the time when her humanness endowed him with safety and harmony inside and brave edges facing outward to the new world. When this first basic dialogue has been good enough, the baby is inspirited with a willingness to reach out for alternative dialogues.
      A baby has had a father right from the beginning. His father soothed him and fed him and bathed him and diapered him. The father held the baby in his arms and paced him through many a night. Father and baby played games and had conversations. The baby has been aware of his father's presence in the world all along. Often it was his father's calming voice and arms that soothed the baby's tensions away. There may have been long stretches of time when the father was much better than the mother at holding the baby. The baby noted his presence and measured the differences between his father's presence and the presence of his mother. Fathers represent another way of looking at life — the possibility of an alternative dialogue... [The baby] learns that dialogue with a mothering presence isn't all there is to life.
      Fathers have a special excitement about them that babies find intriguing. At this time in his life an infant counts on his mother for rootedness and anchoring. He can count on his father to be just different enough from a mother. Fathers embody a delicious mixture of familiarity and novelty. They are novel without being strange or frightening...
      With his father the baby gets an opportunity to be careless — to experiment with danger... [While the mother was gone for the day] father and baby probably had a good time of it, romping with abandon and scotching the schedules. When a mother is going to be away for more than a day or an evening a father usually uncovers his hidden talents for anchored mothering... But on an everyday basis he's at his best when he acts like a father. ~Louise J. Kaplan, Oneness and Separateness: From Infant to Individual, 1978

I loved my old man so much. ~Ernest Hemingway, "My Old Man," 1923

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