Jim Caldwell, the former 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.
“When our daughters face a difficult day they will always be able to turn to our encouraging words.”
Table of Contents
- 1 1. “I love you from the bottom of my heart.”
- 2 2. “I believe in you.”
- 3 3. “I think you’re beautiful.”
- 4 4. “You make me proud in so many ways.”
- 5 5. “I want you to know what my treasures are.”
- 6 6. “Let me tell you about the day you were born.”
- 7 7. “Don’t ever settle for second best.”
- 8 8. “Sometimes my love makes me afraid.”
- 9 9. “You can always come to me no matter what—no matter what—and I will help you figure things out.”
- 10 10. “Now I want you to listen to my heart.”
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. 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.”
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.”
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 every 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 their children, but it’s time she takes ownership of that value.
- Use the gifts you’ve been given.
- Treat your body with respect.
Explain why: 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 is going to have 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—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.”
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.