Jim Caldwell, the current head coach of the Detroit Lions, had a daughter who played collegiate sports years back. As a way to encourage her, he would write notes with short Scripture verses on them. Sometimes he would send along money as well. He hoped she would at least take a quick look at the note before moving on to the cash. When he went to visit her, he noticed some of the Scripture verses he had sent displayed on her playing shoes. Even more, when he went to her apartment, he saw every note he had sent on the back of her bedroom door.
A letter from father to daughter is special and lasting. It doesn’t have to be long. No matter the length it is something she can keep and cherish. When our daughters face a difficult day they will always be able to turn to your encouraging words. [Tweet This ] In order to help you get started, here are 10 things to write in a letter to your daughter (and keep a copy for yourself):
1. “I love you from the bottom of my heart.”
Consistent expressions of love cannot be overdone. The more parents say it, the more deeply it is appreciated. She’s less likely to look for love “in all the wrong places” when she’s confident her dad’s crazy about her.
2. “I believe in you.”
- You’re my daughter and I love you.
- You’re smart.
- I trust you.
- You’re a hard worker.
- You’re grounded in your faith.
3. “I think you’re beautiful.”
Again, this is about a fundamental confidence in who she is: beautiful both inside and out. Just like her mother, she really is going to be just as beautiful as you say she is.
4. “You make me proud in so many ways.”
Tell her how much who she is means to you.
- When I watch you act with compassion, it makes my heart burst with pride.
- The work you did on that project, the way you help out around the house, the good manners you use around other people, the way you handle your allowance…
No need to make stuff up, just affirm what’s going right.
5. “I want you to know what my treasures are.”
Share your fundamental values with your daughter. Teaching kids from our hearts requires some extra effort. “I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you this, but I’ve never cared that much about money. I treasure my family. I love your mother. You and your brother are worth more to me than anything. My faith in God is the very ground I stand on, and being part of a faith community has made all the difference to this family. You may not realize this, but I passed up a huge promotion when you were little so we could stay in this community where we are loved and you have friends&…”
6. “Let me tell you about the day you were born.”
You may or not be a writer, but you can share some of the emotions you felt that day.
- I cried like a baby the first time I held you.
- I prayed for you ever day for nine months, and I haven’t stopped since.
- You were such a beautiful baby from the first moment.
- Because of you, I love your mother ten times more than what I thought was possible.
7. “Don’t ever settle for second best.”
You’ve been teaching her this all along, but make it clear in this letter too. Parents want the best for the children, but it’s time she takes ownership of that value.
- Use the gifts you’ve been given.
- Treat your body with respect.
- Spend your life with someone who loves you like I do.
Explain why: because she was created in love and with a purpose. She was created to both live and love at capacity. That requires the very best.
8. “Sometimes my love makes me afraid.”
Be honest about the way your love for her makes you cautious. Tell her prospective boyfriends are going to have to pass inspection, not because you don’t trust her but because you love her. Tell her she’s going to have to call you and text you when she’s out of the house because you simply ache when you can’t reach out and hold her hand. Tell her you need her to reassure you sometimes. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
9. “You can always come to me—no matter what—and I will help you figure things out.”
Raising kids or raising teenagers, either way it’s important your daughter understands that nothing will ever stop you from loving her. Make sure she knows that, even if she’s in trouble, she can talk to you and that you’re willing to help her formulate a plan. Tell her you will always take her calls and listen when she needs to talk.
10. “Now I want you to listen to my heart.”
Only you know what to write here. But make sure you share from the bottom of your heart. If you’re a man of faith, tell her what that means to you. If you have a moving story about your relationship to your own parents, offer it here. If you’re a poet, write some verse. Do you have a song that expresses something of your soul, quote it here. This is the time for authenticity.
What words from you mean a lot to your daughter?
I do my best to apply these 10 in the life of my daughter every day. Sometimes the best things I can share with her come when I simply ask her, what she would like to know, to hear. We have our private bedside time every night when I tuck her in, pray for her and sing to her. Sometimes, she asked me to tell her a story real or imagined. Sometimes she wants to hear about my day (as much as I like to hear about hers) or hear a story about Granddad (who died before she was born). The list goes on. One thing I know, and God shows me time and again, with my daughter, it’s not about me. I show her that and she knows it.
When my girls were small, I bought leather back journals for all three of them and my wife. Instead of buying cards that can get lost and are in other people’s words, I write in these journals during different times of the year (birthdays, holidays, special occasions, or just because I was thinking about them) and they get to read (and reread) that note and even look back at past notes for encouragement from time to time. I wasn’t sure how much they appreciated the notes until my oldest got married my intent had always been to give that journal to each daughter as they get married to look back on, and then encourage her spouse to begin writing to her in a journal (which he has), however, my oldest daughter (the only one old enough to be married so far) wanted me to keep writing in her journal even after she was married. Since she no longer lives at our house, I simply write in her journal, snap a pic on my phone, and send it to her in a text.
The words of a girls father (and husband) mean so much, and having a place where these notes are kept together will be something that, when I go home to be with my heavenly Father, they can have forever in my handwriting.
Awesome Rob! Great idea followed by years (decades) of follow-through. Kudos to you!
I ask my three year old daughter the same questions every night. &”Who loves you?Mommy and Daddy.&” &”Who believes in you?Mommy and Daddy.&” &”Who is proud of you?Mommy and Daddy.&” I want those three concepts to be unforgettable to her and her 1 year old sister. I am totally going to write a letter to both of them using the list you guys have here. Thanks for sharing this info. I got to incorporate it into my latest blog post: thedanielbryan.com/?p=64 .
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Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your daughter and say, “I love you because ____.”