5 Great Pieces of Fatherly Advice

For Father's Day, let's hear some fatherly advice on learning, love, friends, worry and patience from a few famous fathers:

On Learning by Einstein

"That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don't notice that the time passes."

In a letter to his son Hans Albert about playing the piano, Albert Einstein wrote that the secret to learning is working on something that you love. That worked for Einstein himself, who was "sometimes so wrapped up in [his] work that [he] forgot about the noon meal ..."

Source: Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children - via Brain Pickings

On Love by John Steinbeck

In 1958, John Steinbeck's oldest son Thom confessed to have fallen madly in love with a girl. Steinbeck has this advice:

First - if you are in love - that's a good thing - that's about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don't let anyone make it small or light for you.

Second - There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you - of kindness and consideration and respect - not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release you in strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn't know you had. [...]

And don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens - The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Source: Steinbeck: A Life in Letters

On Choosing Friends by Gen. George Patton

The swashbuckling General George S. Patton, commander of the Third United States Army during World War II, took some time away from fighting the Germans to give some fatherly advice to his son, then a young cadet at West Point. Patton's obscenity-laced letters (this is Patton, after all), included this advice on how to choose a friend:

"You must dispense with friends or 'buddies.' Be friendly but let the other man make the advances. Your own classmates – the worthless ones will tease you about [it] – admit it.

"I repeat ... you must be a man not a boy and you must never let up working. You must not be a good fellow or join in 'harmless larks.' They are the result of an unstable mind.

"You will probably have no choice in initial roommates or tent mates. But keep looking for a quiet studious boy or boys for roommates in the winter. The older the men you can pick the better as roommates. It is usually best not to live with your friends – that makes you lose them. Remember you are a lone wolf.

"If some little fart hazes you don’t get mad. Do what he says and take it out on someone else next year."

On Worry by F. Scott Fitzgerald

When his eleven-year old daughter Scottie came to him with worries, F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby and many other novels, told her:

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about…

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

Source: F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters

On Patience by Charles Darwin

In 1873, 28-year-old George Darwin, the son of naturalist Charles Darwin, wrote a pointed essay on religion and morality. The essay, Darwin worried, could unnecessarily cause harm to George's reputation. To this, Darwin counseled patience - "my advice is to pause, pause, pause" - so his son could weigh the pros and cons of publishing the essay, and whether he could achieve his objective by subtler means that did not create new enemies:

"I am rather alarmed at you getting into the habit of desiring an early harvest or result & frittering away your time on many such subjects or by writing short essays (& therefore temporary) on important subjects; & this, I think, would be beneath your powers.— I wish that you were tied to some study on which you could not hope to publish anything for some years. I have marked one or two passages in which you give your own conviction: remember that an enemy might ask who is this man, & what is his age & what have been his special studies, that he shd. give to the world his opinions on the deepest subjects? — This sneer might easily be avoided, & yet you could say your say. But my advice is to pause, pause, pause."

Source: Darwin Project

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My grandfather once encountered Patton. The general came around the corner and my grandfather saw him and started counting the stars on his shoulder. When he was done and realized who it was, my grandfather just stared open-mouthed. Patton laughed.
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General George S. "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" Patton has been called much worse names than douche.
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"If some little fart hazes you don’t get mad. Do what he says and take it out on someone else next year." Patton seems to have been quite a douche.
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