06/15/2012 11:35 pm ET Updated Aug 15, 2012

From My Father, I Learned ....

I'm lucky to have a great dad. Like me, he's far more Michael Keaton than he is The Great Santini. There's a cultural DNA that parents pass on to their children. Here are some of the lessons I learned from my dad. The links will take you to longer essays I've written about my father which elaborate on the lesson.

  • It doesn't matter whether someone is laughing at you or with you, as long as they're laughing.
  • It's okay to lie if it makes your kid feel better about losing.
  • Follow your kid's lead. He will always take you somewhere fun.
  • Take risks, but NEVER, EVER DRIVE IN EUROPE.
  • Be healthy, but not at the expense of happiness.
  • If your 5-year-old wants to wear a bow tie to the zoo, take a picture.
  • Read what you wrote, then ask yourself what you meant by it, now write that instead.
  • Forcing a child to play the clarinet will cause him to take up the drums later in life.
  • Don't throw tennis balls at cars.
  • Always let your children see exactly who you are. Especially your flaws.
  • When no one's looking, you're allowed to nap.
  • It's a great feeling to have a dad who's not only proud of you but also knows how to embellish a story enough to turn you into a legend.