Updated: 4th July 2023
One of the most rewarding things about raising children is getting to pass on 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 fatherhood quotes might seem hokey or cheesy but they can have a huge impact.
You might well be just a regular guy, but your own child will look to you 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, wise 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 inspirational fatherhood quotes.
Many of these are from fathers to their children, who went on to do amazing things. Hopefully yours will too.
Table Of Contents
Quotes for learning & education
Throughout a father's life, he will no doubt have understood the value of learning. And so many fathers teach (or at least try to) that same value of learning. Here are some fatherhood quotes to inspire a love of learning.
1. “Keep your baby eyes (which are the eyes of genius) on what we don’t know.” - Lincoln Steffens, journalist
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.” - Albert Einstein, physicist
While living abroad, away from his family, Einstein sent this piece of advice in a letter to his 11-year old son.
3. “Pick two things to pursue. Just get really good at those things and learn everything you can about those things.” - Quincy Jones, music producer
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.” - Father of actress, Lupita Nyong'o
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?” - Robert Irvine, celebrity chef
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.” - Father of Microsoft founder, Bill Gates
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 economic advisor at Allianz
Egypt’s Ambassador to France explained to his son why he reads four 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 Idurain
11. “Play with the ball, sleep with the ball, dream with the ball.” - Father of basketball legend, Shaquille O'Neal
Years later, Shaquille noted “Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.”
Inspirational quotes for love & relationships
Arguably the greatest gift a man can give his child is the ability to express their love. Gone are the days where a great father is a man that provides for his family, and teaches practical skills. Instead, modern fathers are able to teach their children about love.
12. “I will always be your father, and I'II always do the best with the time I have with you.” - Byron Wilson, CEO of AIM Education
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." - Kent Nerburn, author
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.
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.” - Ricky Martin, musician
Martin explained this to his son 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 US politician, Ivy Baker Priest
16. "You’ll never get in trouble if you say “I love you” at least once a day." - Former US president, Ronald Reagan
The President also wrote these words to his 26-year-old son, days before his wedding in June of 1971.
17. “If you love someone, there is no possible harm in saying so.” - John Steinbeck, author
18. “To love another person is to see the face of God.” - Jean Valjean in Les Miserables
19. “Let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life.” - Mr Bennet in the novel, 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." - Former basketball player, David Robinson
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.” - John Steinbeck, author
Steinbeck wrote these comforting words to his love-sick teenage son.
Fatherhood quotes for sons
While a lot has changed about gender roles, many dads believe that helping their son to be as good a man as possible is one of their most important jobs. We want to raise sons that treat others with respect, can cope with life's challenges, understand their emotions and so much more.
22. “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” - Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather
These famous words of advice have become that of Hollywood legend, as the Corleone patriarch explains the importance of family.
23. “To be properly contented, son, a man needs three things: a job, a sport, and a hobby.” - Father of musician, Rod Stewart
24. “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 Amada Senior Care founder, Tafa Jefferson
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.
25. “Son, if you don’t have respect, you have nothing.” - Father of boxing legend, Sugar Ray Leonard
Fatherhood quotes for daughters
Neither a father's love or a father's protection end when his child reaches adulthood. Growing daughters will go through plenty of things that we will never truly understand, but we can still raise them to be strong, confident and independent women who are able to handle whatever life throws at them.
26. “You are uncommonly beautiful. You are the most precious thing in my life.” - Father of comedian, Dawn French
27. “Don’t wait for permission. You just do things, and hopefully people will follow.” - Francis Ford Coppola, filmmaker
Coppola gave this advice to his daughter, Sofia, as she followed her father’s footsteps, venturing into a career of filmmaking.
28. “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.” - W.E.B. Du Bois, sociologist and civil rights pioneer
This word of advice was written in a letter by Du Bois to his only surviving daughter in her 14th year. It was sent just before she began studies at one of England’s most prestigious and public boarding schools.
Inspirational quotes for family
Life demands a lot of us, but a close and loving relationship with family can make things easier. Plenty of fatherhood quotes focus on the importance of family.
29. “Most letters from a parent contain a parent’s own lost dreams disguised as good advice.” - Kurt Vonnegut, author
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.
30. “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 Amdocs president, Anthony Goonetilleke
31. “Always be nice to your mother.” - Father of Commvault CMO, Chris Powell
32. “Keep a healthy balance.” - Father of Xlear CEO, Nathan Jones
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.
Inspirational quotes for creativity
Plenty of artists of all forms throughout history have said their father's insistence that they be creative has had a profound influence on both their professional success but also the way they live their lives.
33. "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 SOULD GROW." - Kurt Vonnegut, author
34. “The object of art is not to make saleable pictures. It is to save yourself.” - Sherwood Anderson, author
35. “The secret of success is… to be fully awake to everything about you.” - Father of artist, Jackson Pollock
Quotes for self belief
In some way a child's life has never been easier, and in others it has never been tougher. We're more aware than ever before of children's mental health, and so quotes designed to boost self confidence, self-esteem and self-belief are hugely important. Sometimes starting off your day with one of these quotes is all that's needed to make your child's entire day a positive one.
36. “Worry about courage…don’t worry about popular opinion.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald, author
In a 1933 letter to his 11-year-old daughter, F. Scott Fitzgerald produced a poignant and wise list of things to worry, not worry, and think about.
37. “Whatever it is you’re going after, go get it. You’re as good as they are.” - Father of actor, Jeff Daniels
38. “Believe in yourself and run on your own track." - Father of actress, Jennifer Grey
39. “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, former WWE wrestler
Advising his three children, 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.”
40. “Never give up.” - Father of Base Culture founder, Jordann Windschauer-Amatea
41. “Wear whatever you want to wear.” - Tom Cruise, actor
42. “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.
43. “If you set your mind to it, you can do anything you choose.” - Father of lifestyle mogul, Martha Stewart
44. “Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, just like you do.” - Father of Guru CEO, 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
A good father will seek to support his children in all walks of life, including their careers. While the ways we work are seemingly ever shifting, some of these quotes seek to reinforce those core working values that stand the test of time.
45. "To work hard at something you want to accomplish is the only way to be happy.” - Eugene O'Neill, playwright
O’Neill’s wrote this quote in a letter to his youngest son - a sweet yet troubled boy who worshipped his father but was failing to live up to his own potential.
46. "Most things in the world can be bought or sold, but not a reputation." - Father of Charles Schwab CEO, Walt Bettinger
47. “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.
48. “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
49. “Always surround yourself with great people." - Father of Hungry Howie's VP, Jennifer M. Jackson
50. “Your name is your integrity, and how people know you will do what you say you will do.” - Father of SmartThings Executive, Brett Worthington
51. “Put yourself first and work around your personal life, rather than through it.” - Father of Walker Sands leader, Erin Jordan
52. “Think big, act with humility and give it everything you have.” - Father of iManage CEO, Neil Araujo
53. “Business is a team sport, and every employee is important to the success of a company.” - Father of Integral Ad Science CEO, Scott Knoll
Knoll’s father gave this important piece of advice at the start of his career.
54. “Always shine your shoes.” - Father of Twilio CMO, Sara Varni
“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".
55. “Success is a compilation of completed tasks.” - Father of Cambridge Companies SPG COO, Filipp Chebotarev
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."
56. "If you know what you want your desired outcome to be, you can be more strategic in how you approach the situation." - Father of the Little Gym International CEO, Alex Bingham
57. "Learn to sell what you love." - Father of 4505 Meats CEO, Ryan Farr
Farr’s dad gave this advice to his elementary-school-aged son who had proclaimed “I want to be rich".
58. "Be generous." - Father of Flame Broiler marketing manager, Daniel Lee
“His passion for helping people has always been transparent in his advice and I am thankful for that" explained Lee of his father.
59. “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
60. “Work hard. Everything comes from hard work." - Father of former basketball 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.
61. "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
Quotes for being a good person
As fathers, we ultimately want our children to grow up to be one thing - good human beings.
62. “Never take a mean advantage of anyone in any transaction, and never be hard upon people who are in your power.” - Charles Dickens, author
Dickens wrote this to his son upon his departure to attend university in Australia.
63. “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
64. “You know, Marty, the key to life is to do the decent thing.” - Father of comedian, Martin Short
65. “The more you help others the more good actually comes back to you and the fuller your heart.” - Father of Urban Remedy founder, Neka Pasquale
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.”
66. “The golden rule is treating people the way you would want to be treated.” - Mark Hamill, actor
Hamill admits that this advice may sound “corny and obvious”, but nevertheless one of the most important lessons he teaches his children.
67. “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
68. "The world can often be cold and cruel, but 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.
69. “Goodness is about character.” - Father of NOKIA SVP, Brian Fitzgerald
70. “Leave it better than you found it.” - Father of AnitaB.org, Brenda Darden Wilkinson
Inspired by her father’s advice, Wilkerson strives to “leave the tech industry better for women than when I found it.”
Inspirational quotes for humility
71. “Remember at all times that while you are seeing the world, the world will see you." - Benjamin Rush, Founding Father
72. “Be nice. You don't change anything by being mean. Usually you don't get anywhere.” - Father of Hewlett-Packard CEO, Meg Whitman
73. “You’re not ever so slick you can’t be greased.” - Father of racing drive, Carroll Shelby
74. "You know, you're getting a little weird... you're kind of an asshole." - Father of actress of 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.”
75. “Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak." - Richard Branson, entrepreneur
Quotes to help kids deal with failure
Life makes demands of us, and sometimes we can fall short of those demands which leads to what we can perceive of failure. But failure is a vital part of life, learning and growing. These quotes will help set up your kids to better cope with 'failure'.
76. “Don’t get too low when things go wrong. And don’t get too high when things are good.” - Father of former basketball player, Robert Perish
77. “One of the most important abilities in life is to be able to take the pain and persevere.” - Father of the composer, Yanni
78. “Don’t overthink things, nothing will ever be perfect, so just keep moving and do your best." - Clint Eastwood, actor and filmmaker
79. “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.
80. “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.” - Ted Hughes, poet
Inspirational quotes for being positive
81. ‘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.”
82. “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.
83. “Break up tense situations by being playful.” - Father of One World Play Project founder, Lisa Tarver
Tarver’s father taught her the power of being light-hearted about the obstacles of life.
84. “Guess what kids? I was fired!” - Father of real estate superstar, Barbarca Corcoran
Corcoran’s father gleefully announced he had quit his job (again), teaching his children a spirit of unrepentant insubordination.
Inspirational quotes for respect
85. “Never work against Mother Nature.” - Father of Cesar Milan, dog trainer
86. “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
87. "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
88. “You got to make the back of the fence that nobody will see just as good looking as the front of the fence.” - Father of Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs
89. “A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan any day.” - Father of BP Capital Management, T. Boone Pickens
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
Cuban thanks his father for the advice that led him to understand that business is not all there is to life.
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 Equinix CMO, Sara Baack
This was Baack’s father’s favourite quote - coming from Willie Nelson by way of Confucius.
94. “Attitude is everything.” - Father of SmashMallow CEO, David Lacy
Lacy’s father, who has dyslexia, regularly stressed this point to his young boy.
95. “Don’t wear white.” - Usher, musician
Usher’s advice for his children is to always choose practicality over style.
96. “Life is as complicated as you make it.” - Michael Strahan, former American Football player
97. “Never stop moving. If you stop moving, they throw dirt on you.” - Father of All That Jazz star, Ben Vereen
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 Citymeals on Wheels director, Beth Shapiro
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 TV presenter, 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 in Star Wars
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!