I Didn’t Understand My Dad Until I Became a Dad


I didn’t understand my dad until I became a dad.  

See my dad still kisses me on the cheek and tells me he loves me every time I talk to him on the phone, or via text, e-mail, or Facebook message.  

My dad asks me if I’m okay a lot; he tells me sometimes he worries about me, and he tells me that he thinks about Kate, August and I a lot. He tells me that I’m a great son, an awesome husband and that I can grow a better beard than he can.  

My dad can be, at times, considered by some to be overbearing and throughout the years, I may or may not have been the leader of that viewpoint. 

Why does he hug me and insist on kissing my cheek every time we say goodbye?  
Why does he randomly text me and tell me that he loves me?
Why does he check in on me periodically and ask how my work is going, or how my marriage is going, or how fatherhood is going, or how my lawn is looking, or how my car is running, or how I think my sister is doing, or how I think my grandpa is doing, or how I think he is doing?  


Well, I spent a lot of my life wondering why my dad did these things, until last July, when I became a dad. By now you know the story… Kate and I had a son, we named him August, and he’s taken over every piece of media that I put out into the weird world of the internet. When I found out that Kate and I were having a boy, I was immediately struck with an immense feeling of anxiety. See, with no logic, I figured that we’d have a girl, and I’d be a really good dad to a girl because I grew up with a mom and a sister, and I’m really close to them. I had always had friends that were girls, and I had dated a number of them, so naturally, I would be a great dad to a girl.  

When Kate told me we were having a boy, I was struck with an incredible bolt of fear. I feared that this poor little boy would go through things that boys go through and that his dad wasn’t particularly good at. I feared he would struggle with the same things that I did. He’d have text anxiety, he’d be mediocre at athletics, he’d yearn for acceptance in his teenage years, he’d squeak into college where he’d lean on a number of vices that would set him up for the ultimate mid-twenties breakdown where he’d come back to us, just like I did to my parents. He’d be a spitting image of me and I felt terrible for him.  

On July 16th we had that little boy and after months of mental preparation, I greeted this human with tears that were not of fear, but of joy. He had my nose (bummer dude) but he had his mom’s eyes, and her spirit, he was a fighter, and I knew from the first moment I saw him that I’d do anything for him, just like my dad has for me throughout the years.  

I’ve been a dad for all of eleven months, but I’ve been a son for almost thirty-three years, and FINALLY – I get it. My dad does all of the aforementioned things because I’m his, just like August is mine. Fatherhood does a funny thing to guys – for me, it made me closer to my dad, and love every single overbearing thing he does because I do the exact same thing to August because he’s mine, and the connection and love that I feel for this little dude is unexplainable. So, Gus, I’ll assume you’ll Google this when you’re sixteen or so, and I want you to know that it’s okay to think I’m too much, but I want you to know that I’m too much because you’re too much – you’re more than I ever could have dreamed I’d be blessed with.  

And dad, I want you to know that I get it and if I’m half the dad that you are, I’m doing it right.


Joe Peters lives in Saint Paul, MN with his wife Kate, son August, and trusted Labrador, Winnie. In his spare time, he’s the head of marketing for Vasque Footwear.



BY Joe Peters - June 19, 2017

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June 19, 2017 10:18 am

Goodness this was a beautiful read. Thank you for sharing Joe!

June 19, 2017 8:45 pm
Reply to  Alyssa

Thanks Alyssa, it really has been an eye-opening experience for me and my relationship with my dad.

Thank you for your story, Joe. You’re a wonderful Dad and the world needs more fathers like you!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

June 19, 2017 8:47 pm

Thank you Charmaine. Every dad is different- but I’m navigating the best I can and finding my own way.

June 19, 2017 10:40 am

This is so sweet. So many things we don’t understand about our parents until we become parents ourselves. Sounds like you have a wonderful dad!

June 19, 2017 8:49 pm
Reply to  Noelle

Thank you. I never understood why my dad was so intense until the moment I looked at my son- maybe it’s about coming full circle. Thanks so much for reading. -Joe

June 19, 2017 12:51 pm

Legit just teared up reading this. It reminds me so much of my parents, yes I thought they were overbearing at times but it really all does come from love 🙂

June 19, 2017 8:50 pm
Reply to  jess

Hey Jess- I certainly didn’t intend for people to tear up reading… I hope they were good tears. I just have this feeling that our Gus could be in the same spot that I was.. but going through this at the very least, allows me to relate.

Myrna Martinez
June 19, 2017 8:11 pm

Awe thank you so much for sharing. Thanks for being so honest. What a great read for August when he grows up. I teared up reading this because I think we all ask those questions about our parents. I’m sure one day if I ever become a parent I will finally understand my parents. Great read.

June 19, 2017 8:52 pm

Thanks Myrna- In thinking about it… for me, it took becoming a parent to understand mine, but it certainly isn’t the case for everyone- We’re all lucky to have parents that love us, and while we haven’t *always* done the best job of showing them (AKA teenage years?) I feel like as we grow more mature, we’re able to gain perspective in how people care for us as we care for them. -Joe

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