Dear Abby
April 17, 2008, 6:39 pm
Filed under: daily | Tags: , , ,

The New York Times has this article today, discussing the winners of a contest for the best advice from parents. This was inspired by Pittsburgh’s own Randy Pausch, the CMU professor who is dying from pancreatic cancer. His “Last Lecture” is a love letter to his babies, and advice to them for living the lives that he is going to miss.

I was reading through the original submissions here (and there are a lot of them), and I started thinking about the nuggets of advice my parents left me.

1. A man is not a home improvement project. You can’t change someone. If you find yourself thinking, “Oh, I can change that!” you’re wrong, and this person is telling you something about themselves that you don’t like. People rarely lie if you listen and watch closely.

2. If you have a headache, you probably need to sleep, eat, drink water, or poop. Try those, and then come back and ask me for tylenol. Why take drugs for something that is caused by something so simple?

3. No matter what you do with your life, always make sure that you have the skills and qualifications that you need in order to always be able to support yourself and your family alone. You never know if you’re going to be divorced, widowed, or supporting a disabled husband, so you should never count on his income to support your babies. Your salary must be enough, and anything else should be saved religiously for a rainy day. They always happen eventually.

4. You can tell a person’s character by the strength of their handshake, their ability to look you in the eye, the way they treat wait staff, and how they speak to their mothers. If someone has a weak handshake, they are shady and squirrelly. If they can’t look you in the eye, they are lying to you about something. If they treat wait staff badly, they are arrogant and unkind, which are both unacceptable. If a man treats his mother poorly, he thinks poorly of all women, and will treat you badly, too. You should make sure you avoid these things, too.

5. Wash your hands often and well. It will keep you from getting sick.

6. Don’t eat when you aren’t hungry. Eat when you are hungry. Doing the first will keep you thin. Doing the 2nd will keep you happy.

What advice did your parents give to you? What advice would you give your children?

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