Author's father, Daniel H. Mathis, during WWII.
Author's father, Daniel H. Mathis, during WWII.

D-A-D Acrostic Dictums: An acrostic is generally a poem or phrase in which the first letters spell out a word. It is Father’s Day. How many of these old sayings apply to you? How many apply to your dad? Acrostics below were created by Don Mathis; axioms were written by children and fathers across history. 

Deft and Difficult

To become a father is not hard; to be a father is, however. – Wilhelm Busch

Doesn’t And Does

A child does not need to be parented. He needs to be mothered and fathered. – Zan Thompson

Double A Delight

To show a child what has once delighted you, to find the child’s delight added to your own so that there is now a double delight seen in the glow of trust and affection, this is happiness. – J. B. Priestley

Deific And Delectated

No man can possibly know what life means, what the world means, what anything means, until he has a child and loves it. Then the whole universe changes and nothing will ever again seem exactly as it seemed before. – Lafcadio Hearn 

Duel All Day

Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare. – Ed Asner

 Delight At Dancing

A little child, a limber elf,
Singing, dancing to itself,
Makes such a vision to the sight,
As fills a father’s eyes with light.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 Declare A Disagreement

My father taught me to be independent and cocky and freethinking, but he could not stand it if I disagreed with him. – Sara Maitland

 Delight At Dimples

A child is a curly dimpled lunatic. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Differences Are Dandy

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.  Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.”  “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply.  “We’re raising boys.” – Harmon Killebrew

Don’t Ask Dad

He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. – Clarence Budington Kelland

Daily Activities Duplicated

Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow. – Reed Markham

Difficulty About Defining

I felt something impossible for me to explain in words. Then, when they took her away, it hit me. I got scared all over again and began to feel giddy. Then it came to me… I was a father. – Nat King Cole

Definitely A Deity

Father! – to God himself we cannot give a holier name. – William Wordsworth

Debts Are Destroyed

Henry James once defined life as that predicament which precedes death, and certainly nobody owes you a debt of honor or gratitude for getting him into that predicament.  But a child does owe his father a debt, if Dad, having gotten him into this peck of trouble, takes off his coat and buckles down to the job of showing his son how best to crash through it. – Clarence Budington Kelland

Destitute And Delighted

A father carries pictures where his money used to be. – Author Unknown

Dear And Departed

My father, when he went, made my childhood a gift of a half a century. – Antonio Porchia

Dad As Director

Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever. – Author Unknown

Define A Daddy

My daddy, he was somewhere between God and John Wayne. – Hank Williams, Jr.

Dearer After Death

Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. – Gloria Naylor

Deliver Alternative Dialogue

Fathers represent another way of looking at life – the possibility of an alternative dialogue. – Louise J. Kaplan

Duel Any Duration

There must always be a struggle between a father and son; one aims at power and the other at independence. – Samuel Johnson

 Do And Don’t

It’s no use saying do this, do that, don’t do that … it’s very easy when children want something to say no immediately. I think it’s quite important not to give an unequivocal answer at once. Much better to think it over. Then, if you eventually say no, I think they really accept it. – Prince Philip

 Daughters Are Different

There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. – John Gregory Brown

Divisions About Daddies

There are three stages of a man’s life:  He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus. – Author Unknown

Directly After a Deity

Directly after God in heaven comes a Papa. – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Delectation At Detecting

Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father! – Lydia M. Child

Docious And Ductile

A truly great man never puts away the simplicity of a child. – Confucius

Display A Demeanor

Father of fathers, make me one,
A fit example for a son.
– Douglas Mallooch

Desires About Devices

The child had every toy his father wanted. – Robert C. Whitten

Destiny Always Descends

Every parent is at some time the father of the unreturned prodigal, with nothing to do but keep his house open to hope. – John Ciardi

Details About Development

I didn’t know the full facts of life until I was 17. My father never talked about his work. – Martin Freud, son of Sigmund Freud

Did And Didn’t

Fathers send their sons to college either because they went to college, or because they didn’t. – L.L. Hendren

Duty At Death

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

Duplicate After Development

Middle age at forty-five, what next, what next? At every corner, I meet my father, my age, still alive. – Robert Lowell

Division Across Decades

His father watched him across the gulf of years and pathos which always must divide a father from his son. – John Marquand

Defect After Design

The fundamental defect of fathers is that they want their children to be a credit to them. – Bertrand Russell

Discern A Double

A man knows when he is growing old because he begins to look like his father. – Gabriel García Márquez

Duty As Defender

I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection. – Sigmund Freud

Difference At Daylight

All fathers are invisible in daytime; daytime is ruled by mothers and fathers come out at night. Darkness brings home fathers, with their real, unspeakable power. There is more to fathers than meets the eye. – Margaret Atwood

Describe Any Dependence

Perhaps host and guest is really the happiest relation for father and son. – Evelyn Waugh

Determined About Development

My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. – Clarence B. Kelland

Desire A Duplicate

A man’s desire for a son is usually nothing but the wish to duplicate himself in order that such a remarkable pattern may not be lost to the world. – Helen Rowland

Dispel Any Doubts

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me. – Jim Valvano

Down-to-earth And Dependable

My best training came from my father. – Woodrow Wilson

Deserving And Delighting

Be kind to thy father, for when thou wert young,
Who loved thee so fondly as he?
He caught the first accents that fell from thy tongue,
And joined in thy innocent glee.
– Margaret Courtney

Don’t Allow Discouragement

None of you can ever be proud enough of being the child of such a father who has not his equal in this world – so great, so good, so faultless. Try, all of you, to follow in his footsteps and don’t be discouraged, for to be really in everything like him none of you, I am sure, will ever be. Try, therefore, to be like him in some points, and you will have acquired a great deal. – Queen Victoria

Dads Are Different

For rarely are sons similar to their fathers: most are worse, and a few are better than their fathers. – Homer

Discover A Dictum

It’s only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home — it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. – Margaret Truman

Dreams And Designs

When a child, my dreams rode on your wishes,
I was your son, high on your horse,
My mind a top whipped by the lashes
Of your rhetoric, windy of course.
– Sir Stephen Spender

Dilemma At Delegation

A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons could see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma. – Marlene Dietrich

Dearer After Departure

My father died many years ago, and yet when something special happens to me, I talk to him secretly not really knowing whether he hears, but it makes me feel better to half believe it. – Natasha Josefowitz

Depressed At Death

Heaven is empty – Weep, children, you no longer have a father. – Gerard de Nerval

Driven As Designed

If by chance I talk a little wild, forgive me; I had it from my father. – Henry VIII I, 4, William Shakespeare

Delight At Deeds

As a decrepit father takes delight,
To see his active child do deeds of youth,
So I, made lame by fortune’s dearest spite,
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth.
– Sonnet 37, William Shakespeare

Daughters Are Different

A father is always making his baby into a little woman. And when she is a woman he turns her back again. – Enid Bagnold

Dazed And Defeated

If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right. – Bill Cosby

Delight And Disappointment

Lucky that man whose children make his happiness in life and not his grief, the anguished disappointment of his hopes. – Euripides

Deserving A Difference

You don’t have to deserve your mother’s love. You have to deserve your father’s. He’s more particular. – Robert Frost

Doting And Devoted

Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad. – Anne Geddes

Developing, Always Developing

Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into fathers – and fathering is a very important stage in their development. – David M. Gottesman

Destiny And Design

If you think about it seriously, all the questions about the soul and the immortality of the soul and paradise and hell are at bottom only a way of seeing this very simple fact: that every action of ours is passed on to others according to its value, of good or evil, it passes from father to son, from one generation to the next, in a perpetual movement. – Antonio Gramsci

Devoted About Daughters

The father of a daughter is nothing but a high-class hostage. A father turns a stony face to his sons, berates them, shakes his antlers, paws the ground, snorts, runs them off into the underbrush, but when his daughter puts her arm over his shoulder and says, ‘Daddy, I need to ask you something,’ he is a pat of butter in a hot frying pan. – Garrison Keillor

Deep And Discerning

My father said, “Politics asks the question: Is it expedient? Vanity asks: Is it popular? But conscience asks: Is it right?” – Dexter Scott King, son of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Design A Destiny

I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be. – Abraham Lincoln

Duty And Discipline

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

Delight At Discernment

A wise son maketh a glad father. – Proverbs 10:1

 Dowers Are Desirable

Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. – Ruth E. Renkel

Duty And Dedication

Father taught us that opportunity and responsibility go hand in hand. I think we all act on that principle; on the basic human impulse that makes a man want to make the best of what’s in him and what’s been given him. – Laurence Rockefeller

Devoted And Despised

That is the thankless position of the father in the family – the provider for all, and the enemy of all. – J. August Strindberg

Difference At Distance

For thousands of years, father and son have stretched wistful hands across the canyon of time, each eager to help the other to his side, but neither quite able to desert the loyalties of his contemporaries. The relationship is always changing and hence always fragile; nothing endures except the sense of difference. – Alan Valentine

Duel Across Decades

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong. – Charles Wadsworth

*Featured/top image: Author’s father, Daniel H. Mathis, during WWII. 

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Don’s life revolves around the many poetry circles in San Antonio. His poems have been published in many anthologies and periodicals and broadcasted on local TV and national radio. In addition to poetry,...