One of the most rewarding things about being a parent is getting to pass on to your children all the lessons you have learnt in life. As a parent, you are your child’s guide to living life. You’ve been through some, if not most, of the things in life that your child’s journey will take them on too. You’ve survived, you’ve faced obstacles, you’ve failed and triumphed, and everything you’ve experienced has culminated in your personal log of life’s lessons. Now it's time to use those to inspire your children too. Inspirational quotes from fathers might seem hokey or cheesy but they can have a huge impact.
Children look to their fathers for guidance through life. and it starts from a young age. It is the voice in their head that reflects yours and this voice continues to guide them even when you are not present. The modern father understands the need for passing on his learnt wisdom. Whether to educate, inspire or comfort your child (or just to make a meaningful birthday card!) your own anthology of advice is unique, but we’ve compiled a list of 100 inspiring quotes for inspiration. Many of these are from father's to their children, who went on to do amazing things. Hopefully yours will too.
Quotes for Learning & Education
1. “Keep your baby eyes (which are the eyes of genius) on what we don’t know.”
Journalist, Lincoln Steffens
Steffens became a father for the first time at 58. This advice was from a letter he wrote to his two-year-old son, Pete, celebrating the importance of finding ourselves in the unknown.
2. “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.”
Physicist, Albert Einstein
While living abroad, away from his family, Einstein sent this piece of advice in a letter to his son, 11-year-old Hans Albert.
3. “Pick two things to pursue. Just get really good at those things and learn everything you can about those things.”
Music Producer, Quincy Jones
Quincy gave this advice to his daughter – actress, writer and producer, Rashida Jones.
4. “Keep asking bold questions and looking for their answers.”
Father of Philanthropist, Melinda Gates
Melinda explains about her father’s philosophy: “He knew that curiosity transforms everyday obstacles into exciting challenges to be solved.”
5. “A free mind is stronger than a free body.”
Lupita’s father, a Kenyan politician gave much advice to his daughter on the importance of education. “he is a walking example of how the power of an education never comes to an end” she explained.
6. “What’s in this dish?”
Celebrity Chef, Robert Irvine
Irvine would cook dishes for his two young daughters, Annalise and Talia, and get them to guess the ingredients. When they got it right they won 25 cents. He explained further:” Life is a sequence of moments we never get back. And the more fun moments they have in the kitchen, the better they retain the information.”
7. “If you're scared of something, dive into it and there is a reason and you can grow from understanding that fear.”
Father of actor, Griffin Dunne
Dunne’s father gave this advice both in words and in actions, having gone through “many evolutions and transformations in his life.”
8. “Invest in things — even if you're not good at them.”
Bill Gates Sr., father of Microsoft Founder, Bill Gates
A young Bill Gates took this advice from his father to heart.
9. “Unless you read different points of view, your mind will eventually close, and you'll become a prisoner to a certain point of view that you'll never question.”
Father of Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economist Advisor at Allianz
El-Erian’s father - Egypt’s Ambassador to France – explained to his son why he reads 4 different newspapers each morning.
10. “You sow, you wait for good or bad weather, you harvest, but working is something you always need to do."
Father of cyclist, Miguel Indurain
Having been a farmer all his life, Indurain’s father had these wise words to give to his young son.
11. “Play with the ball, sleep with the ball, dream with the ball.”
Father of basketball player, Shaquille O’Neal
This fatherly advice stayed with O’Neal throughout his childhood and career and resulted in his legendary commitment to the game. Years later, Shaquille noted “Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.”
Inspirational Quotes for Love & Relationships
12. “I will always be your father, and I'II always do the best with the time I have with you.”
The CEO of AIM Education, said these tender words to all his children.
13. "To be your father is the greatest honor I have ever received. It allowed me to touch mystery for a moment, and to see my love made flesh. If I could have but one wish, it would be for you to pass that love along. After all, there is not much more to life than that."
Author, Kent Nerburn
Nerburn wrote these touching words in his book “Letters to My Son - A Father's Wisdom on Manhood, Life, and Love”. The book was written for his only son, Nicholas. Nerburn and his wife also helped raise three other children (Stephanie, Alexandra and Creighton Penn).
14. “'There was a woman that I adore with all my heart that helped me bring you into this world. She lent me her belly so that you could come and when you were born she put you in my arms.”
Singer, Ricky Martin
Martin explained this to his son, Matteo, when he asked if he was in his dad’s belly. “He just said ‘ah ok’ and carried on playing”, said a bemused Martin.
15. “There are four things a child needs: plenty of love, nourishing food, regular sleep, and lots of soap and water. After that, what you need most is some intelligent neglect.”
Father of politician Ivy Baker Priest.
Priest’s father Orange D. Baker, a hard-working gold miner would regularly tell his self-advice to his young daughter.
16. "You’ll never get in trouble if you say “I love you” at least once a day."
President Ronald Reagan
The President also wrote these words to his 26-year-old son, Michael Reagan, days before his wedding in June of 1971.
17. “If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so.”
Author, John Steinbeck
Steinbeck wrote these words to his love-sick teenage son, Thom.
18. “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Jean Valjean, Les Miserables
In the classic novel (and musical) by Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, father Jean Valjean gives this advice to his child, while surrounded by hardship.
19. “Let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life.”
Mr Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
In the classic tale of Pride and Prejudice, the often sarcastic yet doting Mr Bennet offers this advice to his unmarried daughters.
20. “Don’t buy that little argument about quality time and quantity time. Quantity time IS quality time.
David Robinson, NBA
Robinson gave this piece of advice to his children, having suffered at a young age with a father that had to be away for long stretches of time.
21. “If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”
Author, John Steinbeck
Steinbeck wrote these comforting words to his love-sick teenage son.
Inspirational Quotes for Family
22. “Most letters from a parent contain a parent’s own lost dreams disguised as good advice.”
Author, Kurt Vonnegut
Recently separated from his first wife, Vonnegut was concerned about the affect it may have on his youngest daughter, Nanette (who he affectionately called “Nanno”). This was an excerpt from a letter he wrote to a 17-year-old Nanette in 1971.
23. “Do you see the big hole left behind when your hands came out? As much as I love you, and you love me, that is how life will carry on once I am gone.”
Father of president of Amdocs, Anthony Goonetilleke
Anthony’s dad gave this insight after making him put both his hands into a bowl of water.
24. “Always be nice to your mother.”
Father of CMO of Commvault, Chris Powell
Powell’s father was a man of few words, but this piece of advice was both simple and powerful.
25. “Keep a healthy balance.”
Father of Nathan Jones, CEO of Xlear
Despite achieving great business success, Jones’ father’s advice has led him to lead a well-balanced life and always making time for his family.
26. “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
Don Vito Corleone, The Godfather
These famous words of advice have become that of Hollywood legend, as the Corleone patriarch explains the importance of family.
Inspirational Quotes for Creativity
27. "Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience BECOMING, to find out what’s inside you, to MAKE YOUR SOUL GROW.”
Author, Kurt Vonnegut
Advice from 84-year-old Kurt Vonnegut‘s moving letter to a local high school class.
28. “The object of art is not to make saleable pictures. It is to save yourself.”
Author, Sherwood Anderson
Sent in a letter to his seventeen-year-old son John.
29. “The secret of success is… to be fully awake to everything about you.”
Artist, Jackson Pollock, received these words of wisdom from his father.
Quotes for Self Belief
30. “Worry about courage…don’t worry about popular opinion.”
Author, F. Scott Fitzgerald
31. “Whatever it is you’re going after, go get it. You’re as good as they are.”
Father of actor Jeff Daniels
Jeff Daniels received this note of advice from his father as he ventured from his small hometown to study in New York.
32. “Believe in yourself and run on your own track."
Father of Actress, Jennifer Grey
Grey’s dad’s words inspired her to achieve success on her own terms.
33. “You are uncommonly beautiful. You are the most precious thing in my life.”
Father of comedian, Dawn French
Dawn French attributes her father’s loving words for her self-belief and success.
34. “You can do whatever you want in life within the limits of the talents that you have and the attitude that you have and the skill level that you have.”
Chris Jericho, WWE
Advising his three children, Ash, Sierra and Cheyenne, he continued soberly: “If you want to do something, then make it happen. That said, if you are 5'5" and you want to be the center for the L.A. Lakers, that is not going to happen.”
35. “Never give up.”
Father of Jordann Windschauer-Amatea, founder and CEO of Base Culture
A father’s advice to his eight-year-old son preparing for an elementary school race at field day.
36. “Wear whatever you want to wear.”
Actor, Tom Cruise
Tom encourages his daughter, Suri’s creativity and self-expression: “I think that’s important for the child’s own identity.”
37. “Live the impossible.”
Father of Illusionist, David Copperfield
While Copperfield’s mother was a realist and wished for her son to have a “respectable” profession, his father was very much a dreamer and wished for his son to reach for the stars.
38. “If you set your mind to it, you can do anything you choose.”
Father of lifestyle mogul, Martha Stewart
A young Martha Stewart cherished this advice, which at the time, helped her nervous outlook on life
39. “Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, just like you do.”
Father of CEO of Guru, Rick Nucci
Nucci took his dad’s advice to heart, and when involved with start-ups he always remembered that the successful people around him were not better or no less than him.
Quotes for Career
40.“To work hard at something you want to accomplish is the only way to be happy.”
Playwright, Eugene O’Neill
O’Neill’s wrote this quote in a letter to his youngest son, Shane - a sweet yet troubled boy who worshipped his father but was failing to live up to his own potential.
41. "Most things in the world can be bought or sold, but not a reputation."
Father of Walt Bettinger, President and CEO of Charles Schwab
This fatherly advice helped shape Bettinger’s career and management style.
42. “If you're going do a job, do a job. And if you're not going to do a job, don't do a job.”
Father of former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer
Ballmer said that the best piece of advice he ever got — "bar none" — came from his father.
43. “If you go around taking advantage of people at every turn, you won’t build lasting relationships.”
Father of The Muse Editor-in-Chief, Melissa McCreery
McCreery has always remembered her father’s advice and has always lived her life accordingly.
44. “Always surround yourself with great people."
Father of Hungry Howie's VP, Jennifer M. Jackson
Jackson’s business strategies have always followed her father’s simple rule.
45. “Your name is your integrity, and how people know you will do what you say you will do.”
Father of SmartThings Executive, Brett Worthington
Worthington explained his gratefulness for his dad’s invaluable life lesson.
46. “Put yourself first and work around your personal life, rather than through it.”
Father of Walker Sands leader, Erin Jordan
Erin’s father’s advice led her to live a life of balance, fulfilment and success.
47. “Think big, act with humility and give it everything you have.”
Father of CEO of iManage, Neil Araujo
Araujo thinks back fondly of his dad’s advice and has always strived to follow the principle.
48. “Business is a team sport, and every employee is important to the success of a company.”
Father of Scott Knoll, CEO of Integral Ad Science
Knoll’s father gave this important piece of advice at the start of his career.
49. “Always shine your shoes.”
Father of Sara Varni, CMO of Twilio
“It’s hard to follow in my world where CEOs wear New Balance sneakers and hooded sweatshirts,” Varni explained, “but I still always try to make sure that I'm putting my best foot forward."
50. “Success is a compilation of completed tasks.”
Father of Filipp Chebotarev, COO at Cambridge Companies SPG
Filipp explained about his father’s advice “This advice has stuck with me when things get tough and giving up seems like an option, but then I hear his voice in my head and make the choice to power through it, and complete the project."
51. "If you know what you want your desired outcome to be, you can be more strategic in how you approach the situation."
Father of Alex Bingham, president and CEO of The Little Gym International
Bingham’s father imparted his wisdom after voicing frustrations with a challenge he was facing as a young man.
52. “Learn to sell what you love.”
Father of Ryan Farr, founder and CEO of 4505 Meats
Farr’s dad gave this advice to his elementary-school-aged son who had proclaimed “I want to be rich.”
53. “Be generous.”
Father of Daniel Lee, marketing manager of Flame Broiler
“His passion for helping people has always been transparent in his advice and I am thankful for that" explained Lee of his father.
54. “Listen. You don’t live there. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home.”
Father of Walker Sands leader, Erin Jordan
Erin’s father’s advice led her to live a life of balance, fulfilment and success.
55. “Don’t wait for permission. You just do things, and hopefully people will follow.”
Filmmaker, Francis Ford Coppola
Coppola gave this advice to his daughter, Sofia, as she followed her father’s footsteps, venturing into a career of filmmaking.
56. “Work hard. Everything comes from hard work.
Father of Coach, Dwane Casey
Casey’s father was a prison guard at a medium-security boys' reformatory and showed his son the importance of taking pride in working hard.
57. “Son, in life you are owed nothing. Always seek ways to leverage your talents. Most of all, be industrious in everything you do.”
Father of Tafa Jefferson, founder and CEO of Amada Senior Care
This was Tafa’s father’s advice when his son asked how he had accomplished his success against all obstacles – having started life as an African American in the Deep South during segregation.
58. "If you're going to focus on anything, focus on what you can control. And the only thing you can control is your performance."
Father of American Express CEO, Kenneth Chenault
Chenault shared his father’s advice with an audience at the McComb School of Business.
Quotes for Being A Good Person
59. “Never take a mean advantage of anyone in any transaction, and never be hard upon people who are in your power.”
Author, Charles Dickens
Dickens wrote this to his son, Edward Bulwer Lytton (nicknames “Plorn”) upon his departure to attend university in Australia.
60. “Every person is responsible for his or her own actions, and, to the best of your ability, leave the world better than you found it.”
Father of scientist Bill Nye
Bill Nye received this from his father as a child.
61. “You know, Marty, the key to life is to do the decent thing.”
Father of comedian Martin Short
Comedian and Actor, Martin Short received this from his father.
62. “The more you help others the more good actually comes back to you and the fuller your heart.”
Father of Neka Pasquale, founder of Urban Remedy
Pasquale explained “My dad taught me that no matter their social status, rich, poor, color of their skin, language, or ethnicity, to always help people in need. These are values I still live by today.”
63. “The golden rule is treating people the way you would want to be treated.”
Actor, Mark Hamill
Hamill admits that this advice may sound “corny and obvious”, but nevertheless one of the most important lessons he teaches his children, Nathan, Griffin, Chelsea.
64. “There are two kinds of people in the world: givers and takers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better.”
Father of actress, Marlo Thomas
Thomas’ father inspired her to live life as a “giver.”
65. “The world can often be cold and cruel, there's real power and beauty in being kind-hearted to others.”
Father of Luca + Danni CEO, Fred Magnanimi
Magnanimi received this advice and words of comfort from his father, following the untimely death of his younger brother, Danny.
66. “Goodness is about character.”
Father of NOKIA SVP Brian Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald received this advice in both words and actions but his ever polite and well-mannered father.
67. “Leave it better than you found it.”
Father of CEO of AnitaB.org, Brenda Darden Wilkerson
Inspired by her father’s advice, Wilkerson strives to “leave the tech industry better for women than when I found it.”
Inspiration for Humility
68. “Remember at all times that while you are seeing the world, the world will see you.”
Founding Father, Benjamin Rush
Rush sent this note to his twenty-one-year-old son John after he finished a medical apprenticeship.
69. “Be nice. You don't change anything by being mean. Usually you don't get anywhere.”
Father of Hewlett-Packard CEO, Meg Whitman
Meg Whitman has always remembered these words from her dad.
70. “You’re not ever so slick you can’t be greased.”
Father of Racing Car Driver, Carroll Shelby
A critical 14-year-old Carroll Shelby received this candid advice from his dad.
71. “You know, you’re getting a little weird… You’re kind of an asshole.”
Father of actress Gwyneth Paltrow
Paltrow’s father gave her this stern advice that only a father can give. Being at the peak of her career, Gwyneth had let fame get to her head. She looks back on that moment “Oh, my God, I’m on the wrong track. I’m so grateful to him for doing that. He was such a no-nonsense guy in that sense.”
72. “Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak."
Father to Virgin Founder, Richard Branson
Branson wrote that this simple piece of advice had a profound impact on his life.
Quotes for Dealing With Failure
73. “Don’t get too low when things go wrong. And don’t get too high when things are good.”
Father of basketball player, Robert Perish
Perish’s dad’s advice set him in good stead for life as an athlete.
74. “One of the most important abilities in life is to be able to take the pain and persevere.”
Father of composer, Yanni
Yanni recollects his dad’s advice with great appreciation.
75. “Don’t overthink things, nothing will ever be perfect, so just keep moving and do your best.
Father of actor and filmmaker, Scott Eastwood
Eastwood fondly remembers his father, Clint's, timeless advice.
76. “Way to go!”
Father of Spanx Founder, Sara Blakely
Blakely’s father would shout this proudly when his daughter explained that she had failed at something.
77. “The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated.”
Poet, Ted Hughes
Hughes fatherly advice was given to his 24-year-old son, Nicholas.
Inspirational Quotes for Being Positive
78. ‘Today’s going to be a great day. I can and I will.’
Father of actress, Gina Rodriguez
For her 2015 Golden Globes acceptance speech, Gina acknowledged her father’s advice which he repeated daily. And she added “Well, Dad, today’s a great day. I can and I did.”
79. “Always try your best to laugh. That's it."
Father of comedian, Ike Barinholtz
Barniholtz’s father was forever making jokes. They often annoyed him, but he later appreciated his father’s attempts at finding joy in life.
80. “Break up tense situations by being playful.”
Father of Lisa Tarver, Founder of One World Play Project
Tarver’s father taught her the power of being light-hearted about the obstacles of life.
81. “The main thing is the YOU beneath the clothes and skin — the ability to do, the will to conquer, the determination to understand and know this great, wonderful, curious world.”
Sociologist and civil rights pioneer W.E.B. Du Bois
This word of advice was written in a letter by Du Bois to his only surviving daughter, Yolande, in her 14th year. It was sent just before she began studies at one of England’s most prestigious and public boarding schools.
82. “Guess what kids? I was fired!”
Dad of Real estate superstar Barbara Corcoran
Corcoran’s father gleefully announced he had quit his job (again), teaching his children a spirit of unrepentant insubordination.
Inspirational Quotes for Respect
83. “Son, if you don’t have respect, you have nothing.”
Father of boxer Sugar Ray Leonard
The famed boxer reflected that this was his most memorable piece of advice from his father.
84. “Never work against Mother Nature.”
Dog Trainer, Cesar Milan’s father
Cesar Milan learnt this invaluable lesson from his father as a child.
85. “Son, don’t ever get frustrated by stupid people. Being mad at stupidity is like being mad at grass—it’s everywhere.”
Father of Political Consultant, James Carville
Fatherly advice to a teenage James Carville who was frustrated with people he thought were not smart.
86. "Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent.”
Father of PepsiCo President, Indra Nooyi
Nooyi attributes her father’s advice to her success.
General Life Inspiration
87. “You got to make the back of the fence that nobody will see just as good looking as the front of the fence.”
Paul Jobs to a young Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple
Jobs’ dad gave him this invaluable advice while father-and-son painted a fence.
88. “To be properly contented, son, a man needs three things: a job, a sport, and a hobby.”
Father of singer, Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart reminisced about his father’s advice which he took to heart.
89. “A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan any day.”
Father of T. Boone Pickens, chairman of BP Capital Management
While a student at Oklahoma State Pickens’ dad arrived on campus for his fraternity initiation and imparted this piece of wisdom.
90. “Today's the youngest you're ever going to be. You've got to live like it. You've got to live young every day.”
Father of Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban
91. “Get on first base, then on second, and then on third. The home-runs will happen on their own."
Father of FAT Brands CEO, Andy Wiederhorn
Wiederhorn’s father taught him to take things one step at a time, and he always remembered these word on his path to success.
92. “We are all guilty by association.”
Father of BottleKeeper founder, Adam Callinan
Callinan’s father’s advice, helped him from an early age to consider carefully who he surrounded himself with.
93. “Wherever you go in life, there you are”
Father of CMO of Equinix, Sara Baack
This was Baack’s father’s favourite quote - coming from Willie Nelson by way of Confucius.
94. “Attitude is everything.”
Father of David Lacy, CEO of SmashMallow
Lacy’s father, who has dyslexia, regularly stressed this point to his young son.
95. “Don’t wear white.”
Usher’s advice for his children is to always choose practicality over style.
96. “Life is as complicated as you make it.”
Michael Strahan, NFL
Strahan regularly reminds his children, Isabella, Sophia, Tanita, Michael Strahan Jr. about this simple but wise piece of advice.
97. “Never stop moving. If you stop moving, they throw dirt on you.”
Father of Ben Vereen, Star of All That Jazz
Vereen’s father gave him this sobering advice at the start of his career.
98. “There’s no free lunch.”
Father of comedian, Ali Wong
“Although it’s someone else’s quote,” says Ali, “It’s always stuck with me”.
99. “Listen to other people, find out who they are and then figure out what you want to say.”
Father of Beth Shapiro, executive director of Citymeals on Wheels
Shapiro’s dad gave these words of advice to her when she was changing schools in the fourth grade and feeling painfully shy.
100. “If you're going to do anything, you better do it right the first time."
Father of Television Host, Mike Holmes
Holmes’ looked up to his “tough-as-nails-dad”, who led by example. Holme’s reminisced “He believed that you're only as good as your word and it will follow you for the rest of your life.”
BONUS. “If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny.”
Darth Vader, Sith Lord.
OK, Darth Vader isn’t the greatest example of a role-model father. But he did ultimately show his true love for his son. Taken out of context, he gave his son Luke Skywalker some thought-worthy advice! And we hope these inspirational quotes for fathers has done the same for you!