Papa's Anthology of Paternal Advice

David Wallace Croft

2022-03-10

© 2020 - 2022 CroftSoft Inc

Preface

This work is a collection of advice that I hope to pass on to my progeny. I assume that they are reading this as adults, possibly with children of their own. This is an expression of my hopes for their success.

Dedication

I dedicate this work to my wife Shannon, the companion ancestor to all of my descendants.

Absolution

Absolution from self-imposed guilt might not be forthcoming. Live a life of integrity so that you can maintain your peace of mind.

Addiction

A definition of addiction is persisting in the addictive behavior despite negative consequences. A sign of addiction is prioritizing the addictive behavior over taking care of yourself and your responsibilities.

Alarm Clocks

Use two alarm clocks to wake in the morning as you want some redundancy in case you incorrectly set one of the alarms, a battery dies, or the power goes out. If you want to start waking up earlier in the morning, gradually shift the wake time on your alarm clocks incrementally over several days.

Alcohol

Alcohol is addictive. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation so that you have less to regret later in life.

Allergies

Allergies can be severe in one family member and non-existent in another; even if you do not have allergies yourself, be considerate of those who do. Be aware that as you get older, you might develop allergies that you did not have as a child; pay particular attention to potential food allergies that emerge in middle age.

Almond Milk

Unsweetened almond milk is a good substitute for cow milk. The taste of almond milk varies by vendor so sample them all before settling on a favorite.

Autism

Autism tends to run in families; siblings might have it to greater or lesser degrees. Being on the spectrum is not necessarily a bad thing.

Baby-sitters

Avoid using baby-sitters. Take turns watching the children with your spouse; you will appreciate the time you spend with them.

Backpacks

Take off your backpack and carry it in your hands when walking near water. If you fall in the water while wearing it, you might not be able to get it off so that you can surface for air.

Caffeine

Caffeine is addictive. Whether you choose to consume it yourself or not, do not let children have access to it.

Career

If you are uncertain about what to choose for an initial career, start in one of the medical professions. You will never be unemployed and you will help many people. If later in life you decide to expand or switch to another field such as business or research, you will be able to do so. Choosing to go the other way around, however, might not be feasible because the years of medical training required have an increasing opportunity cost the further along you are in your previous career and a diminishing payoff as you approach retirement.

Cash

Carry enough cash so that you can make change for any common bill.

Charley Horses

A charley horse is a painful muscle spasm in your leg. They are sometimes triggered by pointing your toes. They can be alleviated by flexing your foot.

Checklists

Use checklists for everything. Put a checkbox next to each item and check it off as you go so you do not accidentally skip an item. Use pushpin magnets with a laminated checklist for daily maintenance.

Children

Children are blessings we give to ourselves. When you have children, you might be less happy but your life will have more meaning.

Closet

Reverse the coat hangers in your bedroom closet at the beginning of each new year such that the hook openings are facing you. As you remove and replace the clothing on your hangers, un-reverse the hangers so that you know what you have used at least once that year. At the end of the year, give away any clothing in your closet on hangers that are still reversed.

Conscientiousness

To thrive in life, cultivate your conscientiousness.

Considerate Behavior

To be considerate is to refrain from behaving in a way that suggests that you failed to consider the negative impacts upon others before speaking or acting. One can be inconsiderate as a result of apathy, selfishness, or mere ignorance. Avoid being oblivious to the state of others to reduce the risk of being unintentionally inconsiderate.

Cooking

When children are present, use the back burners of your stovetop. Do not store items on your stovetop as the burners might be accidentally turned without you noticing.

Cults

Be able to recognize a cult when you see one. Not all cults are based on beliefs in the supernatural.

Daily Maintenance

Make yourself two laminated checklists for daily maintenance. On the first, list all of the routine things that you will almost certainly do without fail every day such as taking your vitamins. For this first list, move a pushpin magnet from the "To-do" column to the "Done" column when completed. On the second, list all of the other things that you aspire to do daily but might postpone for a few days from time to time such as reading your mail. On this second list, move a pushpin magnet to a column indicating the number of days since it was last done.

Deathbed Promises

Free yourself from deathbed promises by fulfilling them quickly; otherwise they will haunt you until you do. On your own deathbed, do not burden your loved ones by imposing obligations upon them. Settle your affairs early so you do not feel the need to ask for final favors.

Driving

When driving, maintain sufficient distance between your car and the car in front of you. When switching lanes, watch out for other cars switching lanes at the same time as you. Do not let other cars box you in or linger in your blind spot.

Exercise

Exercise can be a good kind of addiction. You can lose weight by walking an excessive number of steps each day. A treadmill desk can help with this.

Finances

Use financial software or a spreadsheet to budget out all of your anticipated checking account transactions for up to a year in advance. This will let you see where your balance goes negative early enough to do something about it. It will also let you know when you can shift excess cash into investments.

Financial Gifts

To prevent life-long resentments, give financial gifts in equal amounts to all of your children at the same time. Beware that frequent financial gifts can lead to codependency relationships.

Flossing

Flossing with brushing makes a significant difference to your dental health compared to brushing alone. Using disposable F-shaped floss picks makes flossing more convenient.

Furniture

To increase safety, buy furniture with rounded corners and edges. For entryway tables, use a demilune. If you have children, use half-height bookcases.

Gambling

Gambling is addictive because intermittent reward is addictive. Never buy a lottery ticket; you are better off investing in the stock market.

Games

Games can be addictive. Games are a form of pseudo-work in that they can give you a sense of achievement even though there might not be any actual benefit or improvement to your life other than the feeling itself. Choose games with a tangible benefit such as education, exercise, or social opportunities. In social settings, choose cooperative games so that you win or lose together as a team. Gamify your non-game activities by finding a way to keep score such as by using a pedometer when you walk.

Gratitude

Focus your gratitude on those things that continue beyond you; everything else is ephemeral.

Happiness

Happiness is not the ultimate goal; search for something deeper.

Hobbies

Hobbies are things that you play at for the sheer love of learning that do not have an immediate pay-off. Bouncing from one hobby to the next makes you the jack-of-all-trades and the master of none but a little knowledge is a start to what might become your foot in the door for a new career someday.

Home Safes

Every home, especially a home with children, needs a safe. Parents should keep the following items in their home safe:

  • Flammables: flint and steel, grill lighters, matches
  • Intoxicants: alcohol, medicines, pressurized air cannisters
  • Papers: birth certificates, shot records, social security cards, wills
  • Security: keys, laptop cable locks, padlocks, passcards, passwords
  • Tools: exacto knives, machetes, pocket knives, sharpies
  • Valuables: cash, checkbooks, coin collections, credit cards, jewelry
  • Weapons: ammunition, knives, pistols, rifles

Key Tags

Buy one hundred key tags in assorted colors. This will prevent you from ending up with a huge collection of unlabeled mystery keys when you get older. You can also use the tags to label duffel bags.

Kitchen Sink

If your kitchen sink has two basins, always leave the basin with the garbage disposal unit empty. This keeps a basin clear of dirty dishes so that you have room to wash your hands and it makes it less likely that you will accidentally grind a utensil.

Late-talking Children

Some families have a history of late-talking children. Most of their children grow up without any long-term developmental disabilities.

Laundry

To prevent allergic reactions, use unscented hypoallergenic laundry detergent and select the extra rinse option on your washing machine. Periodically wash your bedsheets with bleach to prevent washing machine odor. If your dryer does not work as well as it used to, have your dryer vent duct cleaned.

Learning

You can learn anything if you first learn the prerequisites in the right order. To learn a subject on your own, start with a good undergraduate textbook. Training works best when repeated over spaced intervals.

Marriage

The ingredients for a happy marriage include a joint checking account and separate bathrooms.

Minessentialism

Quit activities until you have time for inactivity. Throw away at least one thing every day. Hold off on purchases until you actually have the time to use them.

Nail Care

Take care to trim the corners of your nails properly. An ingrown nail can cause a painful infection.

Nicotine

Nicotine is addictive. If you have an addiction to nicotine, you might be able to shake free of it forever if you can sleep through the first few days of withdrawal. A decade after people quit smoking, their chances of getting smoking-related diseases become similar to those of people who have never smoked.

Optimism

There are many reasons to be optimistic if you look for them.

Padlocks

When you open a padlocked door, lock the padlock to the hasp or staple so that it cannot be lost or stolen. Do not use a multiple-dial combination padlock because if you ever forget to spin the dials after you unlock it others will be able to read or reset the combination.

Paper Plates

Put your used paper plate in the trashcan upside-down and then push it down so that the bottom of the trash can lid does not get food on it.

Pets

Pets are barriers to visits from family and friends with pet allergies. Pets are tragic substitutes for children as they will always die in your care; invest your love in your descendants instead as they will live beyond you.

Politics

Do not let yourself become so emotionally invested in politics that you make yourself and those around you miserable. Accept that politics in a democracy is a shared responsibility that is largely outside of your personal control.

Predatory Exchange

In a voluntary exchange, each party is better off as a result. If this is not the case, it might be a form of predatory exchange.

Procrastination

To overcome procrastination, determine some minimal number of minutes that your reluctant self is willing to work on the task for the day and then work them. If you cannot convince yourself to do even this, keep reducing the number of minutes to an even smaller number until you find it to be tolerable. Chances are you will want to keep going for awhile if you can just get started. Do this daily and even overwhelming tasks will eventually be surmounted.

Relationships

Consider sloughing any relationships which do not benefit your progeny, directly or indirectly. Cull without hesitation any that threaten.

Religion

Rather than simply letting the choice of your religion be dictated by where you were born, consider creating your own personal religion.

Rights

Freedom of speech is the most important right because it defends all of the others. The first step in conquering a democracy is to destroy the free press.

Roommates

Avoid taking on roommates when you are single. You do not want their drama interfering with your academic studies, career, dating, health, and peace. You especially do not want to share joint liability for rent and utilities.

Safe Homes

A clean home is a safe home. Clean clutter and sanitize surfaces.

Self-forgiveness

Go easy on yourself when it comes to reviewing the mistakes of your life. Remember that your mind is implemented by an evolved fallible brain. Practice self-forgiveness so that you can accept, learn, and move on.

Self-responsibility

Regardless of your childhood environment, you are responsible for your own life once you become an adult. Decide to become the person that you want to be.

Shampoo

Using shampoo on a daily basis can damage your scalp. Reduce your usage if your scalp is not healthy.

Siblings

Help your parents raise your siblings into adulthood. Remember that they are as close to you as your own children.

Sleep

Sleep is very important to health. It is also important for memory retention. If you cannot fall asleep at night due to racing thoughts, try taking melatonin and listening to audiobooks.

Sociopaths

The percentage of those in the population that might be considered sociopaths is surprisingly high. Learn to recognize the signs of sociopathy and how to respond to their interactions in a manner that protects yourself from harm.

Socks

If you tend to walk around the house either barefoot or wearing flip-flops without socks, the skin on your feet might dry out and crack. Wearing socks more often, with or without slide sandals, might help with this.

Spanking

Do not spank your children; it teaches the wrong lesson.

Spouses

The primary criterion for a potential spouse should be that you can imagine them as a parent to your children.

Stairs

Stairs are dangerous. Try and buy a one-story house if you can.

Studying

Set aside some time each day to study even when you are no longer a student. If you find yourself repeatedly falling asleep or re-reading the same paragraph over and over again while studying a textbook, try reading the text to yourself out loud.

Success

Measure your success by the success of your descendants. Create an environment in which your children will want to raise their children.

Sugar

Minimize your consumption of products that have high fructose corn syrup as a main ingredient.

Swimming Pools

Swimming pools are dangerous. Do not buy a house with a swimming pool if you have small children.

Tripping Hazards

Backpacks and purses can be tripping hazards if left on the floor since the straps can form loops which snare feet. Run extension cords flush against wall baseboards or stair risers during temporary placements to minimize the risks.

Trunk Storage

Keep jumper cables, a first aid kit, a spare set of clothing, and a towel in the trunk of your vehicle. Keep your trunk mostly empty for ready storage space and fuel efficiency. To prevent theft while shopping, move valuables and containers in the cab of your vehicle to your trunk so that they are out of sight.

Vengeance

Leave vengeance to the courts. You never want to assume sole responsibility for punishing someone because there is always a possibility that your judgment might be wrong. To mistakenly punish the innocent can be devastating to both the punished and the punishers.

Voluntary Associations

If you find that participation in a voluntary association is not synergistic, remind yourself that voluntary means optional. The "Bell the Cat Rule": The one who proposes a task is the one who performs the task.

Wallet

Keep a list of what you have in your wallet just in case you lose it. Include the last four digits of each credit card to make it easy to know which ones to report as lost.

Wealth

A person is rich when they never have to work again in their life unless they want to. By this definition, the retired are rich.

Wish Lists

Put books that you want to read someday when you get the time on your wish list. An unread book in your wish list can give you just as much satisfaction as an unread book on your shelf but it is much cheaper.

Work

Work the hours you bill and bill the hours you work.

Work-life Balance

It is easier to achieve work-life balance if you charge by the hour.

Zippers

Zip zippers; lock doors; shut cabinets; close drawers.