Father Knows Best: 4 fatherly phrases that changed my life

1. “Because I said so.”

Here’s how the conversation leading up to this photo probably went: “Go stand over there with your sister.” “Why?” “So I can take your picture.” “Why?” “Because I said so.”

To the smart-alec child who hears this as a “reason” either for or against something, it makes no sense and is only frustrating. And perhaps there are fathers who fall back on “Because I said so” too quickly, too easily. But I am pretty sure my own father’s “Because I said so” was often used purposefully. Those four words changed my life by teaching me a respect for positional authority, by helping me realize that sometimes it’s enough to trust someone who knows more than you and wants what best for you.

My dad’s “Because I said so” was shorthand for the Biblical advice found in Ephesians 6:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’” (vv. 1–3, NIV)

2. “Garbage in, garbage out.”

Sometimes shortened to “G-I, G-O,” this phrase was never really explained by my dad. He just tossed it out there as a reason when we asked things like, “Why can’t we watch TV instead of playing outside?” or “Can I have ice cream for supper?” Even today I am reminded of this truth when I step on the scale after a week of candy bars instead of fruit, or when “We Built this City on Rock and Roll” is stuck in my brain but I can’t remember Psalm 23.

I think my dad got “G-I, G-O” from Luke 6:45—

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

3. “I’m sorry.”

I just realized I don’t have too many photos of me with my dad (partly because he was usually behind the camera). But here’s one of us around the age of the “I’m sorry” incident.

One Saturday morning when I was a child, I was helping wash the car. My dad was in the driveway too, joking around with our neighbor who had walked across the street to chat. I was too young to truly appreciate what a sensitive machine a car can be, and I was using a pad of steel wool to try and remove some bird splat from the hood. (It worked so well on the whitewalls of the tires, I figured it would really brighten up the rest of the car too!) When my dad noticed what I was doing, he yelled at me, “Don’t do that—you’ll scratch the paint!” I was surprised and hurt by this outburst, and I started to cry, though trying to look stoic in front of my dad and his friend. The friend said, “Aw, Allen, come on, it’s just a car,” or something sympathetic like that. And my dad came over to me and said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you. It’s ok.” That my dad would apologize, in front of his friend, to his illogically sobbing daughter, who was in fact doing something wrong, speaks volumes to me. When I recall the incident now, I realize what an exhibition of manliness and godliness it was.

In being willing to say “I’m sorry,” my dad lives out Ephesians 4:2—

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

4. “A happy wife is a happy life.”

45th anniversary photo

While my dad thinks he’s joking around when he says this, I know that he’s actually expressing a serious commitment. He is committed to my mom “’til death do them part,” and not just in a vague, romantic sense, but in practical, everyday decisions. He tries to make it sound like it’s a huge sacrifice and a lot of work to achieve “a happy wife,” but we all know that the give and take are equal and the happiness is mutual. Our whole family has benefitted from the matter-of-fact stability that comes from knowing your parents love each other, and it’s a model we all try to live up to—not just in marriage, but in all relationships.

After all, that’s the instruction God lays out for marriages in Ephesians 5:25—

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her….”

And for the rest of us in 1 John 3:16—

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

Dad, I love you. Happy Fathers Day!

And if the rest of you have your own “fatherly phrases” that have stuck with you since childhood, please share them in the comments!

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33 thoughts on “Father Knows Best: 4 fatherly phrases that changed my life”

  1. What a handsome guy! Not only does he give good advice, he’s great to look at.
    Of course you’re saving the best advice for our tombstones, right? – ” Life Isn’t Fair.”

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  2. You do have a way with words, and thanks for just sharing the good memories. I will try to not fall off my pedestal today.

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  3. Thanks for sharing these great insights, Melanie! Just confirms what I had already observed: Allen is a wonderful dad and a blessing to all of us! My Dad has been gone for 23 years, and I still think about him every day. He gave the best hugs! Wish I could have one today.

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  4. Your parents wedding was the first I ever attended. At five years old, I thought it was the most wonderful event ever!!! Their commitment has been a marvelous example to all of us who know & love them. And NO you are NOT biased – your Dad (& Mom) are wonderful.

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  5. THANKS MELANIE FOR THE PEEK INTO YOUR FAMILY HISTORY. YOUR FAMILY IS A WONDERFUL ILLUSTRATION OF GOD’S GRACE,PEACE,WISDOM AND
    JOY!WHAT A PRIVILEGE TO KNOW EACH OF YOU!HAPPY FATHER’S DAY ALLEN, YOU ARE A GOOD DAD TO YOUR KIDS AND A WISE LEADER FOR ALL THE REST OF US KIDS AT LIVING SPRINGS…I BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU SAY-JUST BECAUSE YOU SAID IT! I ESPECIALLY LOVE AND HAVE DONE THIS SINCE YOU TOLD ME.. SUNDAY,IF ANYONE ASKS HOW I AM, I WILL SAY:SUPER!! ON MONDAY I’M MARVELOUS, TUESDAY,TERRIFIC,WEDNESDAY WONDERFUL THURSDAY THRILLED FRIDAY FANTASTIC,SATURDAY SURREAL……BECAUSE NO ONE CARES ANYWAY AND I MIGHT AS WELL MAKE SOMETHING UP WORTH LISTENING TO.LOVE SHARON

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    • You’re right, Sharon, Dad is pretty well-known for his daily alliterative answers to the simple question, “How are you?” I think that started as a way to build staff morale at a previous job. So on Saturday, the correct answer to “How are you?” was “Satisfactory—because I don’t get to go to work today!”

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  6. Melanie, you do such a nice job in your career and this blog about your Dad is special. It was a way of getting to know him better and your mom also. I enjoyed reading it. My thoughts about your Dad: He has the gift of discernment and is used by God to help Living Springs Church reach out to the community and to bring LSCC to them. He is a good adminstrator never tiring from his job even if the phone has interrupted him 35 times in one day. I admire his dedication to his family and know he loves his family whenever talking about them.

    One thing he isn’t good at though and that is playing dominos. His wife beats him all the time. What a guy. Happy Father’s Day, Allen!

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  7. What a Terrific Tribute to a Faithful Father! Thanks for sharing, Melanie. I too recognize that first phrase only too well. Another that comes to mind from my Dad is “You’ll know when you’re 65,” in response to my never-ending questions about things that did not concern me at the time. I have spent decades in anticipation of my 65th birthday only to be sorely disappointed at the lack of knowledge accompanying the expiration of so many candles! Have a Supercalifragilistic Sunday! Connie

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    • You mean, my dad didn’t invent “Because I said so”? He’s not the only dad who ever said that? :)

      I know what you mean about the “lack of knowledge” we only become more aware of as we get older. It seems like the only progress I make is that I now know how much I don’t know!

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  8. Great stuff, Melo. I love this. AJ is great guy and I’m glad he has you to give the rest of the world an inside view of it.

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  9. Melanie,
    Thanks for sharing your tenderness towards your parents this Father’s Day. Good memories.
    On the job, your dad is pretty well-known for, “Change is good”. And, many of the changes have been great!
    Blessings,
    Gerry

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  10. Melanie, I was so blessed reading this. Your dad seems like such a great guy. I know he made a big impact on Keith last year, and anytime we talk about a good example of a father/daughter relationship, you and your dad come up. We pray that Keith and I can even be half the parents to our kids, your parents were to you.

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    • Thank you so much, Priscilla! The interesting thing is, my dad never felt like he was an amazing parent. He always half-jokingly wonders how his kids turned out as well as we did! But he was (is) a good father. I don’t think it’s a matter of certain parenting “skills” or “strategies,” though those may be important. It’s more a matter of always knowing there’s love underneath. We never had to wonder if our parents loved us. We just knew. We could almost take it for granted. That kind of love goes a long way in giving kids the self-confidence they need to face a crazy world. And it goes a long way in helping kids understand the love of a heavenly Father.

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