8 Lessons From My Dad That I Will Pass On To My Son

I’ve always looked up to my dad. Like any son would, they tend to put their father, or another father figure in their life, up on a pedestal trying to model themselves after that man. My dad was a hardworking, self-made man who had worked two jobs for the majority of my childhood until his business was stable enough for him to support his family.

Looking back, I think, this is the one characteristics that my father instilled on me the most. However, it wasn’t really something that drove me until I had my son. For me, there’s something about being a father where an instinct is to protect your family kicks in.


I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy to live up to the standard you hold for yourself, either. You want the best for your family and it drives you to become a better person and step up to take responsibility.


My dad taught me a lot of lessons as I grew up; naturally, as you get older, some tend to stick more than others. Being the stubborn boy that I was in my later teens, I would rebel from them or trying to just figure things out on my own.

Now as a parent myself, I understand why my dad was so be adamant about the lessons he would teach us. Here is a list of what I feel is was important to me and what I plan on passing down to my son.

Men can cook.

Who would I be NOT to start this list off with cooking?! I didn’t find this out until later in life, but when my parents first got married, my mother had no cooking skills whatsoever; It was my father who taught her how to cook (minus a few dishes that she got from her father). My father didn’t always cook when I was older, but it was always special when he did. I always assumed this is where I got my passion for cooking.

Now that I’m older, I have noticed my dad cooks a lot more than he used to, and I’m not gonna lie, he might be better than me. Let’s just hope he doesn’t start his own cooking blog and give me a run for my money!

I love being able to cook for my family. Nothing makes me happier than seeing satisfied looks on everyone’s faces. Hopefully, as my son gets older, this can be something he’ll take interest in and I can pass on what I’ve learned to him!

Hockey is the greatest sport ever!

We weren’t a major sports family, but the one sport we’d consistently would watch was hockey whenever it was on TV . I have so many fond memories with my dad watching Gretzky lead the Kings to mediocrity in the ’90s. If we weren’t watching hockey, my father was driving me down to the hockey rink for practice, reading his tech magazines while I was scoring goals like crazy.

Okay, I probably scored like 3 goals in my whole childhood career but that neither here nor there.


These are great memories I’d love to create with my son. Even though he is still a little too young to understand what hockey is, when he sees it on TV the words”GO GO GO!” come out of his mouth for “GO KINGS GO!”. So I’d like to think I have him on the right track to being the fan of the BEST HOCKEY TEAM IN THE NHL!

I’ll take that statement to the grave boys. Come at me.

It’s okay to be a goofball.

I’m sure my mother didn’t appreciate this lesson as much as I did, but it was always fun to just goof around and be silly with my father. I have fond memories of goofing around with my dad or rough housing. It’s probably only a sense of humor that my family gets but I’m already seeing the good old “Campanile laugh” starting to form in my son.

I may regret this lesson I’m passing on.


Sometimes, just to have a laugh, be silly with my son, or maybe just wearing matching shirts for May The Fourth, lights up my day as I’m sure it does for him. It might be more important for me than it may be for him, because, for me, it’s very therapeutic. It’s also a great way to have a bonding experience not matter what age.

You can’t always get what you want.

Ugh. This was my least favorite lesson I learned growing up. I was definitely spoiled, but there were plenty of times  that the answer was “No” when I wanted something. It was either because something was just out of their budget, or merely because it just wasn’t in the cards for me at that time. Looking back, I do appreciate this as it definitely prepared me for the real world.

I honestly hate having to tell my son “No”, and I’m probably the softy between his mother and I, but it’s definitely important to me to not give him everything he wants when he wants it.

That’s not to say that you can’t get everything you want in life. But knowing that there’s things that just might not be attainable helped manage expectations and prioritize those goals.

Be a kid with your kids.

I had the privilege of having a younger dad. My father was just in his early twenties when he became a dad, so when I was a ball of energy, he was able to keep up. My brother and I would often would play sports outside with him, or he’d power up the Nintendo or Sega Genesis.

We’d play a round of NHL 94 or some other game with him most often get our butts kicked (sub lesson: if you want to win you need to earn it!). But regardless of the outcome of who won or lost we always had fun.

It’s such a great opportunity to just be a kid and play with your children and I get to learn that firsthand. I love just acting childish with my toddler and going out to play with him. Trying to fly a kite that for the life of me won’t stay in the air; I swear it’s a faulty kite. But Brayden just loves running with me to try to get the stupid thing to fly!

It’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up.

As a teen and younger adult, there were a handful of times where I would be in a bind and, unless it was a dire situation, the response from my father was “figure it out”. Of course mom wouldn’t be too keen on the idea of watching her baby have to struggle.

But as I would get through the dilemma, figuring how to get through it on my own, it made me stronger. If I needed advice he would be there to help out in that sense, but he wasn’t going to let me just sit back and watch him clean up my mess, unless it was an absolute must.


Parents, in my opinion, try to fight their kids battles for them too often nowadays; and I get it. Even though my son is only in his toddler phase I can see how, as a parent, you want to protect them; preventing them from repeating the same mistakes you did.

But I’m a firm believer of the “teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for days” approach. And if my son is anything like my father and I are, he’s going to be bull-headed. The only way he’ll learn is just by learning the hard way on his own.

As tough as that will be for me at times, all I can do is support him and let him know that I will be there when he needs me to guide and give him advice.

Love what you do for a living, even if that means to work for yourself.

Watching my dad start his company from the ground up, just like his father did before him, has always motivated me to become self-employed to some extent. He started out working in glazing and eventually made the decision that he didn’t want to work in a career that he didn’t love.

So I watched as he decided to begin taking classes and studying to pass certifications in order to get a job in IT. From there he began working two jobs until he launched his own business in IT consulting. This had a huge impact on me, because it showed me at a young age, you don’t need to work a corporate “9-5” gig to become successful and happy in your work.

I have always dabbled in freelance web design and photography, but it wasn’t ultimately what would make me happy; this is a big reason I started this website. Yes I have a stable job in IT and I enjoy it, but it’s not what I picture myself doing 10 years from now.

I love cooking, running websites, and having multiple projects at once. I feel like running this blog eventually will give me the opportunity to do that. I also want to show my son (and future children) that the American dream is still alive. You don’t have to sacrifice your happiness to make a living for yourself and support your family.

Prepare for the future. And your children’s future.

I’ll never forget the time I brought home my first “F” on a paper from school. My father sat me down when he got home and had a pretty serious conversation with me. “Do you like to have nice things? Do you think grades like this will get you a job that can afford you nice things?”

Well, I mean obviously my answer was no. Okay, I probably sat their with my arms crossed and muttered “I guess”. Even though I never actually brought home a perfect 4.0 report card, I also never brought home another F, so I guess you could say that had an impact on me!

Now this isn’t a directly lesson I learned from my father, but going into college I had to financially go it alone, and therefore never really completed because I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do and wasn’t comfortable in taking out a student loan. Not that this was necessarily bad for me, I made do with what I had, and was able to get into an entry-level position through a client of my dad’s (lesson #1).  

This road is definitely not the road I want for my son. If he chooses to do it the “hard knocks” way like his old man, then fine. However, I want him to know that, whatever path he chooses in life, I can be able to be there to support him emotionally and financially. And if in the event I cannot provide for him financially, provide him with the tools so that he can support himself financially.


I’d love to have for my kids to have some sort of investment plan set for them, so that they can have a little something to get started with when they are adults, ready to hit the road on their own. Whether it’s for college, wedding, or to start their own business. At the very least, I want to be educated enough to point them in the right direction, and guide them on how to be financially secure.

I’ve found some good resources over at Protective Life on how, as a father, I can financially plan for my son’s future and show him how to get in the habit of doing so for himself. There’s some great articles geared towards providing as a father, as well as making plans for college, weddings, and for “when it rains” life events. I was pretty impressed with what they had on their site not to mention their Pinterest is great too!

I’d love to hear what you’ve learned from you father! Let me know in the comments how you are passing on wisdom from your father to your children!

Derek Campanile
Derek Campanile
I'm an IT professional by day. Home cook for the family by night. Follow my blog for easy to make recipes, how-to's and ideas to gather the family at the dinner table!