Family Relationships

Relationship Building: Writing a Letter to your Child

Well-chosen words have a great impact. So when your child needs an extra dose of encouragement, choose your words carefully, and season them with love.

Ron Hutchcraft, author of Five Needs Your Child Must Have Met at Home, describes writing a letter to your child as a “‘paper bridge’ over a growing chasm. It may actually turn out to be the first of several letters that will heal or grow a relationship… A letter such as this may be one of the most important a mother or father will ever write.”

And while getting started may be the hardest part, it will be well worth your time to invest in the hearts of your children. The following suggestions will help you organize your thoughts and put them on paper:

Part One: “I love you.”

Share with your child that you love him unconditionally. For example, you could say, “I will always love you because you are my child, not because of what you do.” You could even simply say, “I love you no matter what,” or “Nothing will stop my love for you.” The most important thing is to make sure your child knows your love for him is unconditional and not based on what his grades are, or how nice he is to you, or whether or not he makes captain of the softball team.

Part Two: “I praise you.”

Let your child know you proud of him, his accomplishments, his unique talents and abilities. For example, you could say, “I am always so proud of how you treat your brothers and sisters, and how you always help around the house. You might also say something such as, “I am so proud of how you brought your grades up last semester,” “I am amazed by how well you play the piano,” “I am always impressed with how you are willing to share with others,” or “I am proud of your hard work, practice and talent that got you on the football team.”

Part Three: “About our relationship…”

Use this paragraph to talk about how you value your relationship with your child and possible ways it can be even better. This is not a time to criticize your child or to place blame for any relationship problems, but an acknowledgment of your own shortcomings and an apology for any wrongs you have made.

You can also share what you wish for your relationship with your child. Maybe your hopes for your relationship are focused on spending more quality time together, learning how to communicate better, or even getting to know your child better. For example, “I apologize for spending too much time working late or at the golf course. I wish we could spend more time together. Maybe we can plan for Thursday evenings to be our Family Night.” or “I wish we could be more open about our problems. Let’s talk one night this week about how we can change that.”

Your child may not receive your letter as warmly or openly appreciative as you might hope, but as Hutchcraft puts it, “a letter like this, written positively and honestly, will go right to a child’s heart.”


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This article is based on the book Five Needs Your Child Must Have Met at Home by Ron Hutchcraft.  

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