My sons each have a drawer in their dressers that is the equivalent of my kitchen junk drawer. Everything that doesn’t have a place goes in there. McDonald’s toys, flashlights, gift cards with a zero balance… The drawers are a hot mess of randomness. But recently, when I was doing a purge, I found a letter to my son that I’d written back on the first day of school.
This letter hadn’t said anything deep—just the standard “go get ‘em”—but it was important enough that not only did he not toss it in the trash can in his classroom, but he kept it and transferred it to his personal drawer. Finding it got me thinking about the power of writing down our thoughts, prayers, and feelings for our kids. What if we did it once a year? What if we did it even one time? I wrote mine. It took me about 20 minutes and I think those were the best 20 minutes of my week. These are the 10 things I wrote in a letter to my son.
1. “The day you were born was epic.”
All kids like to hear the story of the day they were born. Your son might know the details, but does he know how it made you feel to see his face for the first time? I made sure to tell my son that the day he was born was the day I met, face-to-face, one of my very favorite people.
2. “I love what makes you different.”
In a world where our kids are afraid of standing out, they need to hear their parents say that the things that make them different are some of our favorite things about them. My son once said to me, “I’m not very boyish.” I responded by first asking what “boyish” looks like. Then I told him that if everyone fit a mold, we’d never accomplish anything. It’s what makes us different from one another that makes us special.In a world where our kids are afraid of standing out, they need to hear their parents say that the things that make them different are some of our favorite things about them. Click To Tweet
3. “You are strong.”
Boys need to know that their parents see their strength. When others point it out, it’s easier to flex those muscles the next time they are scared or facing something intimidating. In the letter to my son, I gave him examples of his strength, but I also told him that he didn’t always have to be strong. He could lean on me when he needed to.
4. “This family wouldn’t be the same without you.”
Kids need to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and for some kids, that means struggling to fit into some peer group. In her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, Brené Brown says, “Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.” Reminding your son he belongs in your family will give him confidence and security.
5. “I pray for you every day.”
I want my son to know that no matter what he encounters—good or bad—I’ve been praying for him. Praying for your son and daughter is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Pray for their wisdom, strength, joy, and self-control, which are all things they’ll need as they grow up.
6. “I know you’ll make mistakes, and it’s OK.”
In the letter to my son, I wanted him to know that I expect that he will make some missteps and bad choices. When our children know we don’t expect perfection from them, it’s a permission slip to take risks. And when they hear us say that their mistakes won’t get in the way of our love, they will come to us to talk when they have a confession or are in trouble.
7. “I know the day will come when you don’t need me.”
I gave this letter to my son on the morning of his 10th birthday, and he came into my room saying this part made him cry. With new tears in my eyes, I told him I’d cried as I wrote it! Moms and sons have a special bond. It’s hard to accept that their growing independence means we’re doing our job well, but we need to tell them that even if we pout when they don’t want to hold our hand in public, it’s OK.
8. “You will do great things. In fact, you already have. “
Boys can struggle with confidence, but cover it up by being cocky or reserved. Tell your son he has what it takes to accomplish his goals. And point out ways he’s already impressed you. No one says you have to be an adult to be incredible.
9. “Always be respectful.”
This one covers a lot: manners, peer pressure, dating… If he respects adults, he’ll have more opportunities. If he respects girls, he’ll make them feel safe. If he respects his friends, he’ll always be surrounded by people. And if he respects himself, others will respect him.
10. “Don’t be afraid of hard things.”
There’s a story of a man who helped an Emperor moth get out of its cocoon. He cut open the end just a little bit to make the opening bigger. When the moth emerged, it couldn’t fly because its wings hadn’t fully developed. The man wasn’t trying to hurt the moth. He was trying to keep it from having to struggle, but the moth needed to struggle in order to have wings strong enough to fly. If your son is going to be the kind of person God created him to be, he needs to do hard things. Those struggles build endurance and character.
What else would you include in a letter to your son?