30 Celebs Share the Best Lessons They Learned from Their Dads
These stars have a special place in their hearts for the big guy.
Dads generally dole out good advice, but few fathers spew words of wisdom quite like the dads of celebrities—you know: if the success of their kids is any indication. Yes, much of who we are is shaped by our childhood. And by that logic, one could assume that the red carpet regime must have strong, smart, and stable father figures to thank for the fame and fortune. Well, turns out, that assumption would be entirely correct.
Take Al Gore, for instance—his father used to walk him around the farm to teach him the importance of the environment, and look where his son is today! And Bill Gates‘ father taught him to leave his comfort zone, which is perhaps how the billionaire felt inspired enough to found his own company. In the spirit of Father’s Day, we’ve rounded up some of the best life lessons from the dads of super-successful A-listers. And if you want to get your dad something special this Father’s Day, check out the 20 Best Ways to Give Your Dad the Gift of Time.
Maintain a Work-Life Balance
When he’s out touring, musician James Taylor always keeps his dad’s advice in the back of his mind to remember his life at home, too. “Just to be there for your family,” Taylor told Associated Press. “I’ve tried to be as much as possible. If there is a struggle, that’s it, trying to balance family life and life on the road.” Though most of us aren’t famous rockstars touring the country, the advice still applies about maintaining a work-life balance.
Stick Things Out
“When I was 11, I joined a football team,” NFL pro Joe Montana recalled. “About halfway through the season, I decided that I wanted to quit. When I told my dad, he said, ‘That’s fine. You can quit…but not in the middle of the season. If you want to quit, you have to wait until the end.’ He explained that I had made a commitment—not only to the coaches but also to the other kids. That was a pivotal lesson for me. There are things in life that get you down, and life itself often gets tough. But if you can ride it out, it will always get better. Also, when I took a step back and listened to what my dad was saying, I realized that I really did like football. I was just distracted by something else. That’s another thing—life is full of distractions. You’ve got to be able to focus on what you want the most.”
Cherish Your Education
Thanks to his father, X-Men actor Hugh Jackman is beauty and brains. “[My dad] preached education,” Jackman said. “And passion—like find whatever you’re good at, then do everything you can to learn every bit of it, and don’t go out into the world until you’ve studied.” Clearly Jackman took this passion advice to heart; the actor was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013 and won a Golden Globe that same year. And for more Hollywood advice, check out James Marsden’s Advice for Living Your Best Life.
“His favorite word was always discipline,” Enrique Iglesias said of his father Julio. “He would always say that if you don’t have discipline you won’t get anywhere, and I think he is 100 percent right. To be successful there are sacrifices that you have to pay. It does not come easy.”
“My father hated a liar,” Merle Haggard told Men’s Journal. “He died when I was nine, but if I learned anything from him, I learned that.” For easy ways to spot a lie, just check out these 40 Lies Everyone Over 40 Tells.
Live Life to the Fullest
“I idolized my father, but for whatever reason, it was hard for us to talk,” Boogie Nights star Burt Reynolds said. “He was the chief of police in Riviera Beach, Florida, and I never knew him out of uniform. I was young when he left to fight in World War II. Years later, when I visited Germany, he gave me the name of a woman to look up. She was beautiful, and after I spent the afternoon with her, it was obvious that they had had more than just a friendship. It was very difficult for me to face that. He’d been right in the thick of it, when you don’t know if you’re going to see tomorrow, and he did what I would do: He lived every day like it was his last. I think he wanted me to find out that nobody’s perfect.” And for more ways infidelity has been uncovered, check out the 20 Dumb Ways Men Have Been Busted Cheating.
“My father and mother emphasized two things: 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,” said science guy Bill Nye. Judging by the number of students he’s instilled a love of science in, we can say that Bill Nye has taken his parents’ worldly advice to heart!
Believe in Yourself
“My dad told me, ‘Believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter that you’re from a small town in Michigan. Whatever it is you’re going after, go get it. You’re as good as they are,'” said actor Jeff Daniels. “And when you’re sitting in waiting rooms, with Yale and Juilliard and the Royal Academy of Arts, and when they ask, ‘Where did you go?’ And you say, ‘Central Michigan,’ and the whole room is silent, and they all look away… my dad was saying, ‘Go get it.’ And I did.” And believe it or not, Daniels is just one of the many celebrities who loves his small town!
Protect the Environment
Former Vice President Al Gore‘s enthusiasm for the environment seems to run in the family. As the activist once recalled: “During summers when I was a boy, I’d accompany my dad as he took long walks around our family farm in Tennessee. Not infrequently, he would stop and say, ‘See that?’ At first I couldn’t. But then I learned to quickly see what he noticed—the beginnings of soil erosion, the first appearance of a gully. A gully doesn’t become a gully unless you let it, he said. If you pay attention to the land, you can stop gullies from ever forming. My dad’s awareness of soil conservation came from an earlier generation, when the leading edge of the environmental movement was farmer based. He taught me a very deep lesson about the importance of being a steward of the land—to pay attention to the land and take care of it. I trace my lifelong passion for the environment back to that lesson.”
Don’t Change Yourself to Fit In
As a kid, Shark Tank star Mark Cuban didn’t understand why he couldn’t fight fire with fire—until he tried to, and failed miserably. “When I was in grade school, I was one of only two Jewish kids. Name-calling wasn’t all that unusual, so I got into a lot of fights. Every time I did, my dad would tell me, ‘People who hate have already lost the battle.’ Treating others fairly and with respect was the most important thing to him. ‘Everyone is the same on the inside,’ he’d say. I didn’t understand what he meant about losing when you showed hatred until one day in the fifth grade, I thought I’d be cool if I punched this heavy kid who everyone was making fun of. So I punched him in the stomach. He started crying—I never felt so terrible. I knew exactly what my dad was trying to teach me. Hurting someone, through words or actions, leaves the biggest scar on the person throwing the punch. I think about that lesson a lot.”
Do Whatever You Want
You might expect the son of Clint Eastwood to have pressure to be successful, but Scott Eastwood has said that this is not the case. “[Dad] didn’t care what I did,” Scott told TODAY. “He didn’t care if I was a plumber or if I was an actor. He said, ‘Whatever you do, just do it well.'”
Have a Good Handshake
“The [advice] that I sort of use every day, I guess, is just a good handshake because in this business, specifically, but I’m sure everybody meets new people on a daily basis, a firm handshake, I think, goes a long way,” Kate Mara told the Associated Press about her dad’s best words of wisdom. “To this day there’s nothing worse than kind of a half-[effort] handshake from someone. I think it says a lot about your character.”
Leave Your Comfort Zone
“My dad and my mom were great at encouraging me as a kid to do things that I wasn’t good at, to go out for a lot of different sports like swimming, football, soccer—and I didn’t know why,” Microsoft founder Bill Gates told Fortune. “At the time I thought it was kind of pointless, but it ended up really exposing me to leadership opportunities and showing me that I wasn’t good at a lot of things, instead of sticking to things that I was comfortable with.” For ways to leave your comfort zone, try these 40 Best Hobbies to Take Up in Your 40s.
“When I grew up, our house was always a hive of activity, with mum dreaming up new entrepreneurial schemes left, right, and center, and me and my sisters running wild,” Virgin Group founder Richard Branson wrote on LinkedIn. “[My dad] wasn’t quiet, but he was not often as talkative as the rest of us. It made for a wonderful balance, and we always knew we could rely on him no matter what. Within this discreet support lay one of his best and most simple pieces of advice for me: Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak.”
Find a Passion
“You should… develop a passion,” Caitlin Jenner told daughters Kendall and Kylie in a letter in Time. “I don’t care what that passion is. You just have to find something that makes you excited to wake up in the morning and start your day. That is true success.”
Be Willing to Change
“Wrecking Ball” singer Miley Cyrus has been engaged to longtime partner Liam Hemsworth for a while now—and when she finally does walk down the aisle, she’ll have her dad’s advice to keep in mind. The one thing Billy Ray Cyrus always taught her? “Nothing and no one stays the same. Grow, evolve, change with each other, and celebrate your love’s journey.”
Don’t Be Dumb with Money
Actor and former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger handles all of his own finances, so he was proud of his son Patrick when he decided to study business at the University of Southern California. “This whole idea of him going to USC to study business and economics is because he wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Schwarzenegger told Entertainment Tonight.”He figured out that I have always taken care of my own money. I’ve never had a business manager and I’m the only one in entertainment that never lost any money. He wants to make sure he’s falling in the same category of ‘let’s worry about how much money we make and also how much money we keep.’ That’s very smart.” And for ways to be smart with your own finances, learn the 20 Easy Ways to Stop Wasting Money.
Learn to Move On
Even celebrities deal with their fair share of letdowns, but luckily The Crown star Matt Smith knows how to handle them. “My dad said to me very early on: ‘It’s not the disappointments, son. It’s how you get over them,'” Smith told the Associated Press. “And that, that I’ll pass… onto my son, you know? He’s a very important man in my life, my dad. Probably the most important.”
Everything Happens For a Reason
“I’m not sure what the future holds, but I do know that I’m going to be positive and not wake up feeling desperate,” Nicole Kidman said after her breakup with fellow actor Tom Cruise. “As my dad said: ‘Nic, it is what it is. It’s not what it should have been, not what it could have been—it is what it is.'” Take Nicole’s dad’s advice, and make sure you aren’t hiding behind these 15 Worst Reasons to Delay a Breakup.
Shoot for the Stars
“As a child, I can’t recall a day that went by without my dad telling me I could do anything I set my mind to,” Jeff Weiner recalled on LinkedIn, the platform he recreated. “He said it so often, I stopped hearing it. Along with lines like ‘eat your vegetables,’ I just assumed it was one of those bromides that parents repeated endlessly to their kids. It wasn’t until decades later that I fully appreciated the importance of those words and the impact they had on me.”
Don’t Seek the Approval of Others
“Of the many lasting pieces of advice my father gave me is something that he said to me around the time I got my first real acting job,” said Kurt Russell. “I was just out of my teens, and I guess I thought I was something of a big shot. So he sat me down and said, ‘Okay, they’re paying you a man’s salary. Now do a man’s job.’ That advice continues to resonate. What did he mean? He obviously wasn’t talking about acting but rather something that can be applied to any field. He meant, Do what you do for the purpose of your work. Don’t do something just for the adulation or the affirmation of others. None of that matters, and it doesn’t last. He taught me that you’ll really value what you do if you do it for yourself. That isn’t being selfish. It’s being committed, and it’s something I’ve tried to pass along to my kids.”
Bruce Willis is no man to mess with, and neither are his daughters. “I taught [my girls Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah] to walk up to any young guy who’s shoving you around on the playground and scream in their face that it’s not okay to be mean,” the Die Hard actor told People. “It works, too.”
If Brad Pitt learned anything from his father, it’s that he should always love what he does. In an interview with Parade, he said: “I played tennis in high school. I was in this tournament and I was at my all-time McEnroe best—throwing my racket and saying words that were not acceptable. [My dad] got right up to me and said, ‘Are you having fun?’ I said, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘The don’t do it.'”
Find a Balance
“My father and daughter had unwittingly taught me the importance of balance,” actress and wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow said. “Could I use some butter and cheese and eggs in my cooking without going down some kind of hippie shame spiral? Yes. Of course I could.”
Don’t Mix Business and Pleasure
At the PopSugar Play/Ground this past weekend, Kate Hudson revealed some wise words her father imparted on her (even though she didn’t always keep them in mind). “My dad told me, ‘Never sleep with your co-stars,'” Hudson said. “I listened, except once. Once.”
“I think you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone in some way in life, otherwise you never grow,” Ben Stiller said while doing press for his movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. “My dad [Jerry Stiller] said, ‘That which does not kill you only makes you stronger!’ That always stuck with me. It’s a real thing to get outside of those things you are used to and you do adapt.”
“[Our family] always talked about what was going on in the world,” George Clooney‘s father Nick Clooney told Salon about the family’s life growing up. “We talked about it at the breakfast table; we talked about it in the car. And we always wanted everybody in the family to know how we felt about things, especially about justice in the world. But we always tried to do it with humor and something that matched George’s and our daughter’s experiences.”
Remember That You Can Do Anything
Actress Connie Nielsen has benefitted from reminding herself of her worth. She told the Associated Press: “My father always said, ‘You belong in that room. No matter what, you can do whatever you want.'”
Practice Unconditional Love
Though the alpha of the Kardashian clan, Robert Kardashian, passed away from cancer in 2003, his parenting advice still resonates with his daughters today. “The one thing I would take from how my dad [parented] us is unconditional love,” Khloe Kardashian wrote on her website. “It’s the entire point of family.”
Take a Chance
It wasn’t in his father’s success, but in his failures that comedian Jim Carey found life’s true lessons. “My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him,” Carey told the Maharishi University of Management class of 2014. “He made a conservative choice and instead he got a job as an accountant. [But] when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. Our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” Looking for more words of advice? Check out these 30 Best Pieces of Historical Advice That Are Relevant Today.
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