A Most Valuable Lesson From Dad

Posted October 1, 2013 by jimhigley


As a guy who spends his days talking a lot about fatherhood, there’s one question I am asked with regularity:

“What’s the most important thing your own dad taught you?”

Yikes. That’s hard to answer. But a fair question. I’m never good at picking “the best” or the “#1” anything. My mind – and heart –  don’t work that way.

But I will tell you this: when I’m asked about my father, I always get the same image in my head. We’re standing in the check-out line at the grocery store.

For a good part of my childhood, it was my father who did the family grocery shopping. And, as the youngest in the bunch, I often tagged along with him on his journeys to his favorite super market. Now, while I don’t remember much about the shopping experience, I do have vivid memories of my dad in the check-out line. Memories upon memories.

What I remember was his interaction with the check-out clerk. The cashier. The checker. The person punching in numbers on the cash register – back in the days when people punched in numbers on cash registers. I remember my father just talking away to that person – whether he knew them or not. And I also remember – as a kid – being embarrassed because it was my dad who was always chatting. It was my dad who always asked questions about family, weekend plans, vacations or children.

A simple, “Hello. How are you?” was never sufficient for my dad. In fact, I’m not sure I remember him asking that basic question. He jumped right in. Leading with a smile and following through with something more personal. An interrogative that went beyond the surface.

“How was your weekend?”

“Is your family still in town?”

“That was quite a rainstorm we had last night, wasn’t it?”

“Have your kids gone back to school?”

And he always got a response. And a smile. And a conversation.

What he received, in many ways, has become a lasting lesson from my dad to me. And it’s why one of the first things I think about when I think about my dad is him going through the check-out line at our grocery store.

Because what he received was something he valued greatly: a connection with another human being.


This memory is brought to you through my partnership with Kimberly-Clark during the months of September and October. It’s part of their Pick Up the Values Program– providing tips and ideas for parents to stretch their budgets.

Today’s Pick Up the Values Tip for Stretching Your Budget would make my dad proud: Ask your local store manager for tips on being a smart shopper in their store. Find out if they have unpublished coupon promotions or if there are better days of the week that will offer you stronger purchasing power.

Be sure to stop by the Pick Up the Values Facebook Page for more tips and conversations!

Rest assured, while I’ve been compensated by Kimberly-Clark for this story, the memory, and belief in their product is as real as it comes.

Post by Pick Up the Values.