Treion Muller didn't have the best example of fatherhood from his own dad. So he would watch other fathers interact with their children and glean ideas about parenthood — for better or worse — from those observations.
Muller, the chief elearning architect at FranklinCovey and a father of five, has kept mental notes of those observations for the past 20 or so years.
All written down, he collected 81 of them in the recently released "Dad Rules: A Simple Manual for a Complex Job" (Plain Sight Publishing, $9.99).
Muller was 7 years old and living in South Africa when his father left his wife and two sons.
"We saw him a handful of times during my growing-up years," Muller said of the random times his father would visit. Both of his parents were alcoholics, and his father's visits never left him with positive experiences or memories.
Take the time he was in the high school play and won best actor. He came home and found his parents so drunk, there wasn't any recognition at all for his accomplishment.
After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Muller came to Utah to attend school at Southern Utah University.
After he married and had a 2-year-old daughter, Muller received a phone call from his brother that their father was dying of cancer. Muller flew to South Africa and was able to say goodbye to his father.
"Dad Rules" is divided into three parts: what dads should know, what dads should say and what dads should do. The tips range from rule No. 1, "show up for the job every day," to No. 81, "share with other dads what you have learned," and include the humorous No. 19, "be OK wearing pink," and the easier-said-than-done rule No. 57, "be a dad first and a friend second."
Every father has different strengths and other areas that may need a bit of improvement.
"I'm not an expert yet," Muller said. "There are many rules that I'm not very good at."
Take, for instance, rule No. 33: "when you mess up, say 'I'm sorry.'" He's given his 12-year-old daughter "permission to tell me that I'm messing up, and she follows through with it," Muller said. "You have to eat some humble pie."
Fatherhood can be fun if you let it be (see No. 76), as it doesn't take much for children to have fun.
"Rule No. 1 is important," he said, "show(ing) up for the job every day. That means you're trying and you're willing to be a dad.
"Once you're a dad, you're always a dad."
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