Quotations about fatherhood and fathers, whether general or specific.

I’m nowhere as tough as my father. I really think that I am more open to change than he was.

— A. J. Foyt

My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it.

— Abraham Lincoln

Santa Claus, this psychiatrist says, is a dangerous sentimental father-figure, who is expected to satisfy ‘‘unreasonable wants,’’ and who by that very expectation delays the ‘‘necessary adjustment of the preadolescent child to the world of reality.’’

— Alistair Cooke, 1952 broadcast

My wife has been my closest friend, my closest advisor. And … she’s not somebody who looks to the limelight, or even is wild about me being in politics. And that’s a good reality check on me. When I go home, she wants me to be a good father and a good husband. And everything else is secondary to that.

— Barack Obama

Suppose your father… walked into this room at the ordinary human pace of walking. And suppose just behind him was his father. How long would we have to wait before the ancestor who enters the now-open door is a creature who normally walked on all fours? The answer is a week.

— Carl Sagan

What could I do but go with them [soldiers of the Civil War], or work for them and my country? The patriot blood of my father was warm in my veins.

— Clara Barton

In peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons.

— Croesus

Hate is the father of all evil.

— David Gemmell, Fall of Kings

For all his attention to my historical education, my father had neglected to tell me this: history’s terrible moments were real. I understand now, decades later, that he could never have told me. Only history itself can convince you of such a truth. And once you’ve seen that truth – really seen it – you can’t look away.

— Elizabeth Kostova

Already complaints are multiplying on every hand that that most gracious quality of all that adorns the age of childhood — the quality of reverence — is fast fading from our schools and households; that the oldtime respect for father and mother is diminished, and grown rarer and more uncertain.

— Felix Adler

When one has not had a good father, one must create one.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

It is not flesh and blood, but heart which makes us fathers and sons.

— Friedrich Schiller

Mother is the dead heart of the family, spending father’s earnings on consumer goods to enhance the environment in which he eats, sleeps, and watches the television.

— Germaine Greer

Freud is the father of psychoanalysis. It has no mother.

— Germaine Greer

The only perfect love to be found on earth is not sexual love, which is riddled with hostility and insecurity, but the wordless commitment of families, which takes as its model mother-love. This is not to say that fathers have no place, for father-love, with its driving for self-improvement and discipline, is also essential to survival, but that uncorrected father-love, father-love as it were practiced by both parents, is a way to annihilation.

— Germaine Greer

It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.

— Harper Lee

Can you become a man without becoming your father?

— Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men

If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons.

— James Baldwin

Somebody, your father or mine, should have told us that not many people have ever died of love. But multitudes have perished, and are perishing every hour — and in the oddest places! — for the lack of it.

— James Baldwin

I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry, and Porcelaine.

— John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, 1780

My father died many years ago now – of natural causes. So it goes. He was a sweet man. He was a gun nut, too. He left me his guns. They rust.

— Kurt Vonnegut

You don’t remember the times your dad held your handle bars. You remember the day he let go.

— Lenore Skenazy

I united myself with my forefathers: the father, mother, and grandparents I loved. They and all my predecessors believed and lived, and they produced me.

— Leo Tolstoy

My father was often angry when I was most like him.

— Lillian Hellman

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

— Mark Twain, attributed in error

No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self-deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.

— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

In the name of that which implants in the seed the future of the tree and in the hearts of humanity the longing for people living in neighborly love; In the name of the highest, in whom we move and who makes the mother, the father, brother, and the sister what they are; In the name of sages and great religious leaders, who sacrificed their lives to hasten the coming of the kingdom of peace and justice; Let us renew our resolution sincerely to be real brothers and sisters regardless of any kind of barrier which estranges person from person. In this holy resolution may we be strengthened, knowing that we are one family; that one spirit, the spirit of love, unites us; and that our work together for a more perfect and more joyful life leads us on.

— Norbert Capek

My father urged Alan [Lomax] not to repeat the mistakes of the European folklorists who, a century ago, had collected these peasant songs and then arranged them for part choir and accompanied them on piano, and then told the young people of their country, ‘Don’t change a note, this is our sacred heritage.’ Father said, whether it’s a fiddle tune or a gospel song, learn it right off the record from the people who grew up with it. Don’t just learn it from a piece of paper.

— Pete Seeger

Man is conscious of a universal soul within or behind his individual life, wherein, as in a firmament, the natures of Justice, Truth, Love, Freedom, arise and shine. This universal soul, he calls Reason: it is not mine, or thine, or his, but we are its; we are its property and men. And the blue sky in which the private earth is buried, the sky with its eternal calm, and full of everlasting orbs, is the type of Reason. That which, intellectually considered, we call Reason, considered in relation to nature, we call Spirit. Spirit is the Creator. Spirit hath life in itself. And man in all ages and countries, embodies it in his language, as the FATHER.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can I see another’s woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow’s share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

— William Blake

I was born by myself but carry the spirit and blood of my father, mother and my ancestors. So I am really never alone. My identity is through that line.

— Ziggy Marley
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