Am I a better dad?

My dad never said “I love you” to me as a child. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase come out of his mouth. For one, it’s awkward to say in Swedish, but words meant little to him. His actions showed. I knew he cared for me.

Now I’m a dad. We’ve got two kids – 14 and 11. Both are as sweet as can be, and troopers in life. I tell them I love them at least 83 times a day. “Yeah, dad, we know!” [insert eye roll here]

I want to be better.

Each generation gets a fresh start. A chance to change what didn’t happen in the past. A turn for the better. An opportunity to improve.

I often feel my dad’s rage welling up inside me when the kids haven’t done a chore, or are still on the iPad, or whatever.

My dad would explode after I got busy using all of the tools in his workshop to make a 2×4 look like something else. Unhinged, some would say.

I don’t want to that for me, or my kids.

At the end of time, I hope they’ll remember. I am very different than my dad (and still, in many aspects, the same), but I work hard at learning more about my kids as little humans on the path towards better, brighter, bolder.

Am I a better dad? Who knows? I still get angry. I still forget to soften my voice. Empathy is my Achilles heel.

But. I turned out okay, after all. I certainly still love him (and no, he’s not dead). I’m just different. And that’s the point.