I wrote my daughter a letter for the 1st day of school. It wasn’t very long. It wasn’t a scholarly essay or a best-selling novel. But, I won’t forget her reaction. I won’t forget the love and appreciation she felt. It wasn’t more than just a few sentences in that she started tearing up and gave me a hug. The power of what I had to say to and about her even more powerful than I could have known.

I’ve had this tradition of writing to her, to my wife and also to my son each year for many years now. It doesn’t take long, but it has significant meaning for them…and for me. You see I don’t want to write this letter just to check off a box and get it done every year. I stop and think about the year that has gone by, about the events that have happened, the traits that I’ve seen develop in them. I tell them what I love about them and write words of encouragement that I hope they will take to heart and will push them when they are struggling. I tell them that I am proud of them.

And even though a lot of what I write in these letters is not too different than what I say directly to them…there seems to be a different weight, a different tone that is conveyed when it is written on paper and read aloud to them. I believe it has something to do with the significance of the day they receive it as well. Our Anniversary for my wife, and for my children on their first day of school each year. Something hits different…it means more.

And please believe me, I’m not trying to say it has anything to do with my writing ability or anything particularly amazing that I’m doing or saying. It matters because it is coming from me, their dad. It matters because it is true and heartfelt. It matters because it helps them feel seen, understood and deeply loved. It matters because sometimes we as people, especially our children, just need to hear some words of affirmation…to know that someone cares and truly appreciates us for who we are.

It matters Dad because it’s from you. So, if you’re looking for the perfect gift or a way to reconnect or to engage further with your children or your spouse…I encourage you to stop looking at online apps or in stores…get out a piece of paper or your computer and just write what comes to your mind. Fold it up and put it in an envelope with their name on it. I promise…neither you nor they will regret it.

This is fatherhood…