I want my kids to know that I love them always, that I am there for them whatever happens. I also want them to know that they are responsible for their words and actions. I want them to know how creative and caring and resilient they are.
My kids are in college and grad school and post-graduate “real life” now, and I’ve been trying to share my love and values with them all their lives.
You know what? I think they got it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep wanting to share.
The hard thing is, they’re not around much. We get some vacation time or holidays together, but they’re spread round the country, busy with their own lives. Even if your kids are at home, you may feel like the chances to connect are fleeting. You catch them in snatches as they go from school to practice to meetings to a friends house. You long for them to look up from their phone.
Our kids hear us more than we realize, so keep talking — and try writing down what you want them to know.
I wasn’t always sure how much my kids took in from the stories I shared at bedtime and in the car and around the dinner table. I didn’t know if the “I love yous” really sunk in. Sometimes I wondered if all they heard was the nagging and reminders and criticism, but I don’t really think that’s true. Still, I wanted a way to deeply share the things I wished they knew, and a letter from my heart was the way to do it.
Write Letters to Share What You Want Your Kids to Know
I’ve written many letters from my heart* to all my kids, and as our opportunities for direct conversation grew fewer, I found the letters more meaningful.
I have written to celebrate birthdays, when they left on a semester away, when they graduated from high school, when they started college. I wrote letters to help my kids feel supported as they transitioned from one phase of their life to another.
While I still cherish deep conversations, letters have something different to offer. When I write letters, I can take the time to think through what I want to say. What do I really want my child to know in this moment? What stories, values, and words of wisdom and love do I want to share right now? How can I show how I feel (and express what I want them to know) without lecturing? Writing gives me time to sort through that and think about how to say it.
And a letter makes it easier for my kids to “hear” what I’m saying. Honestly, some of of what I wanted to say might have felt uncomfortable for them to listen to in person. What might have gotten eye rolls or awkward fidgeting was better received when they were alone and reading my words.
Those words have lasting power. Because they are written down, my sons and daughter can come back to them when they need advice or just a reminder that somebody believes in them and thinks they’re great.
What do you wish your kids knew? Have you told them lately? Have you ever tried writing it down?
* I’ve struggled how to name the kind of letter I write. I started out with legacy letters, but too often people connect that with end of life, and these letters are meaningful at any time. So I tried calling them letters from the heart, letters to share gratitude, letters to connect, a way to use story to connect … whatever you call them, they are powerful tools to teach, remember, honor, show gratitude, share, and connect.
Learn how to tap into story and get the things you want to say most on paper. Whether you want to write to your child or somebody else special in your life, I’ll show you how to say what you wish they knew.
Letters last a lifetime and help you express just how much you care for the people in your life, even yourself. If you aren’t sure where to start, I invite you to grab a copy of Deepening Connections with Legacy Letters where I show you how to craft one from the heart.
“When I set out to write a letter to my 16 year old daughter, I had no idea the wonderful internal journey Melanie would take me on. Not only will writing the letter be a treasure for my daughter, but the experience has been a wonderful memory for me. Melanie knows how to guide you to the meaning of what your heart wants to express and helps you confidently find the words to the convey the emotions of your stories. I am so grateful for this experience and highly recommend time with Melanie for this amazing gift of Letters to Connect!”