What My Dad Learned About Himself, Families And Fatherhood While Raising Me

Everyone should have this conversation with their parents at least once.

I see my dad now when I look in the mirror. There are some things we've always shared: blue eyes, blond hair, and, if the photos I reviewed for this article are any evidence, a tendency to squint when near cameras. But as my two sisters and I grow older, there's more of him present in our faces and in our voices. Our quips are ones he'd laugh at. Our arguments are arguments he'd make. 

I know that being raised by him has shaped me. My bone structure and bad jokes are evidence enough. But after settling down to watch an episode of Project Dad, I couldn't help but wonder how raising the three of us shaped him.

So I did what any professional journalist (or, really, any self-respecting millennial) would do when confronted with a conundrum: I picked up the phone and called my dad. I asked him what he'd learned during the 23-odd years he'd had three little girls running him ragged. If there were any words of wisdom he could pass on.

Here's what he had to say:

15. Don't walk off with your just-born daughter unless the nurses know she's yours.

14. Given the opportunity and a spare marker, all toddlers will reveal themselves to be aspiring tattoo artists.

13. Which means all parents becomes experts in tattoo removal.

12. Kids don't come with instruction manuals.

11. But you'll still figure it out.

10. The best solutions to problems — those that are assigned for homework and those that are more naturally occurring — are creative.

9. And having family nearby is all-important.

8. It's the little moments, and the medium-sized snow forts, that stick out later on.

7. The same gene pool and the same upbringing will still produce wildly different results.

6. But when Christmas comes — or when Gilmore Girls premieres — there's no keeping them apart.

5. The surest route to the hair salon is leaving your child alone with safety scissors.

4. And when your kid calls you and says she had a car accident, the first thing you ask is if she's OK.

3. Because that's all that matters.

2. Being a parent isn't easy.

1. But it's the best thing that will ever happen to you.

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