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35 fatherhood quotes that honor the special role dads play

From powerful to sweet, there's a quote for every dad you love.
A father holding two toddler children on a meadow outdoors in autumn.
Show your appreciation for dads with these powerful fatherhood quotes.Halfpoint Images / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Whether it's Father's Day or just a day that ends in "y," dads deserve all the love.

Fatherhood quotes are a great way to show the men in your life just how much you care.

As William Shakespeare once said, “It is a wise father that knows his own child.”

On the topic of fatherhood, John Legend famously told Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show" in 2017 about his kids: "They didn’t do anything, they just exist and you love them completely, but it’s not built on anything other than their existence."

And Jimmy Fallon called becoming a father "the greatest thing that has ever happened to me."

Whether you want to honor your dad with a sweet quote to put in a card or need a little inspiration for yourself, here are 35 fatherhood quotes to enjoy from famous personalities, authors, poets and beyond.

35 Fatherhood Quotes

Let your heart do the talking and show your appreciation for dads with these powerful fatherhood quotes.

  • “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.” — Jim Valvano
  • “To be the father of growing daughters is to understand something of what Yeats evokes with his imperishable phrase ‘terrible beauty.’ Nothing can make one so happily exhilarated or so frightened: it’s a solid lesson in the limitations of self to realize that your heart is running around inside someone else’s body." ― Christopher Hitchens, "Hitch 22: A Memoir"
  • “Fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man.” — Frank Pittman
  • “A father is the man who can change a world he will not be part of by building the tiny human that is part of him.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
  • “One of the greatest lessons I learned from my dad was to make sure your children know that you love them." ― Al Roker
  • “When my father didn’t have my hand, he had my back.” ― Linda Poindexter
  • “We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.” ― Henry Ward Beecher
  • “The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature.” ― Prevost Abbe, "Manon Lescaut"
  • “My dad was an incredibly brave man, completely dedicated to his family, with a love for all of us. If I can be half the dad he was to me then that will be an achievement in itself." ― Tom Daley
  • “Listen, there is no way any true man is going to let children live around him in his home and not discipline and teach, fight and mold them until they know all he knows. His goal is to make them better than he is. Being their friend is a distant second to this.” ― Victor Devlin
  • “One of the greatest titles in the world is parent, and one of the biggest blessings in the world is to be one.” — Jim DeMint
  • "Much of life, fatherhood included, is the story of knowledge acquired too late: If only I’d known then what I know now, how much smarter, abler, stronger, I would have been. But nothing really prepares you for kids, for the swells of emotion that roll through your chest like the rumble of boulders tumbling downhill, nor for the all-enveloping labor of it, the sheer mulish endurance you need for the six or seven hundred discrete tasks that have to be done each and every day." ― Ben Fountain
  • "I loved her, instantly. Of course, most parents love their children instantly. But I mention it here because I still find it a remarkable thing. Where was that love before? Where did you acquire it from? The way it is suddenly there, total and complete, as sudden as grief, but in reverse, is one of the wonders about being human." ― Matt Haig, "How to Stop Time"
  • "Saturday mornings, I’ve learned, are a great opportunity for kids to sneak into your bed, fall back asleep, and kick you in the face." ― Dan Pearce, "Single Dad Laughing"
  • “As fathers, we know that our children need our love and need our guidance and need our faith in them. We know that our children need from us what only we as fathers can provide them.” ― Hendrith Vanlon Smith Jr., CEO of Mayflower-Plymouth
  • “A father’s tears and fears are unseen, his love is unexpressed, but his care and protection remains as a pillar of strength throughout our lives.” — Ama H. Vanniarachchy
  • “I’m inspired by the love people have for their children. And I’m inspired by my own children, how full they make my heart. They make me want to work to make the world a little bit better. And they make me want to be a better man.” — former President Barack Obama
  • “Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then, it’s a love without end.” — George Strait, “Love Without End, Amen”
  • “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad, and that’s why I call you dad, because you are so special to me.” — Wade Boggs
  • “There will always be a few people who have the courage to love what is untamed inside us. One of those men is my father.” — Alison Lohman, “Flicka”
  • “A good father will leave his imprint on his daughter for the rest of her life.” — Dr. James Dobson, “Solid Answers”
  • “The call of fatherhood is in fact a call of sacrifice, not in some heroic sense where a father is lifted high on some glowing pedestal with all of his sacrifices held up to the awe of those around him. Rather, it is a call that will cost him all that he has, that will be absent of accolades, where rewards will be sparse, and where he will someday find himself having spent all, but in the spending have gained everything. And this is the glory of fatherhood.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
  • “Always a partner, a playmate and a teacher / Ready with a joke when times were sad” ― Nancy Sinatra, “It’s for My Dad”
  • “Dads are most ordinary men turned into heroes, adventurers, storytellers and singers of song.” — Pam Brown
  • “Fathering makes a man, whatever his standing in the eyes of the world, feel strong and good and important, just as he makes his child feel loved and valued.” — Frank Pittman
  • “Parenting is a lifetime job and does not stop when a child grows up.” — Jake Slope
  • “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” — Clarence Budington Kelland
  • “What kind of man does not give up his time, his many pleasures, but hands them over without a sound. What kind of man bends to hold them in their suffering, in their questions, in their garbled turns of phrase. What kind of man admits his failures, turns over his heavy stones, stands at the feet of grief and wanting does not turn away. What kind of man becomes a father. A lasting place. A steady ship inside a tireless storm.” ― Kate Baer, "What Kind of Woman"
  • “Labor & delivery is measured in hours. Birth is a moment. Being a parent is the rest of your life.” ― Lisa Marshall, "Becoming a Dad: The First-Time Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy Preparation (101 Tips For Expectant Dads)"
  • “It takes less than a minute to make a baby, but more than a decade to make a being.” ― Abhijit Naskar, "Honor He Wrote: 100 Sonnets For Humans Not Vegetables"
  • “It takes great courage to love unconditionally.”― Isaac Mogilevsky, "A Letter to My Father: What Your Son Wants to Tell You But Doesn’t"
  • “Biology does not make a man a father — nor a woman a mother. We are what we do.” ― Andrew Vachss, "Another Chance to Get It Right"
  • “A father’s love is like your shadow, though he is dead or alive, he will live with your shadow” ― P.S. Jagadeesh Kumar
  • "What makes a good father? A good father sets an example that his children want to follow. A good father provides for the needs of his children—both material and non-material. A good father demonstrates his love in both words and actions. A good father provides guidance in a positive fashion." ― Rob Kozak, "Finding Fatherhood"
  • “The difference between a ‘man’ and a ‘father’ is that the former shares his genes, but latter gives his life.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough