Imagine writing a letter to your grandparent telling them how they have helped you become the person you are, or thanking them for their unconditional love and support, for introducing you to family history and traditions, or encouraging your love of art, literature or science.

Imagine getting a letter from a grandparent explaining what they love about you or why they value certain parts of you and what they hope for you. Imagine hearing about their life and how they overcame struggles and became the person they are today.

Imagine writing a letter like that to your grandchild for a birthday or graduation or just because you love them. Telling your grandchildren about a time you made a mistake helps them understand that it’s okay to mess up. Sharing stories about daring to do something you were afraid of helps them learn courage and risk-taking. The stories of your struggles, triumphs, and experiences, even the ordinary ones, show who you are, what you value, what you believe, and what you learned.

These are all Legacy Letters—and they are powerful.

What is a Legacy Letter?

Legacy Letters are meaningful gifts and are written to share wisdom, family history and traditions, values and love with people special to you. These simple to write letters create a strong feeling of connection now and throughout your lives, enhancing what you already do to deepen the bonds in your family.

Write a Legacy Letter for Grandparents Day

September 11 is Grandparents Day. Writing a Legacy Letter to a grandparent or other important elder (or helping your kids write one) is a marvelous way to share your gratitude for all that they have taught and done for you and for the love they have shared with to you.

In When and How to Write a Powerful Legacy Letter I show you how to write a Legacy Letter in four steps. I also give examples of letters from a group of grandchildren to their grandfather. The result of the letters to their beloved grandfather was a deep sense of gratitude for the children and, for the grandfather, the knowledge that he had had an incredible and positive impact on each of them. If you want your grandparent to feel special, there is no better way than to share your love and gratitude in a letter.

Legacy Letters go both ways

If you are a grandparent or other important elder in a person’s life, I encourage you to take the opportunity of Grandparent’s Day to share your stories, values, wisdom and love in a Legacy Letter to someone in a younger generation. Think of adult children, neices, young cousins as well as grandchildren.

Sharing your stories, both the good and the hard ones, helps create a strong family narrative. Why is this important?

Family stories build connection and show kids values without lecturing. But the stories do more. Two researchers at Emory University, Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush have discovered that knowing family stories correlates with higher levels of self-esteem and confidence, self control and autonomy, resilience and grit. Dr. Duke says that children who have the most self-confidence have a strong “intergenerational self.” The way to achieve that is through telling and retelling family stories, especially family narratives that share both the ups and downs.

Taking time to write down stories in a letter is powerful. Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families, recently wrote in the New York Times: “The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive.”

If you want to make someone feel special, build a strong family narrative, give and feel gratitude and deepen the connections in your family, try writing a Legacy Letter now.

Multi-generational Legacy Letters support all of these goals.

Capture your stories and leave them as a legacy for your friends, family, and the world. Here’s how you can get started.

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