A fatherís letter to his 13-year-old daughter (shared with permission):
I hadnít planned on writing this letter to you for a couple of years yet. But when you walked down the stairs last weekend wearing a dress and earrings, I decided to advance my timetable a bit.
You are growing up so fast (parents are entitled to say that at least once a week) and youíve become a teenager much sooner than I am ready.
I guess what also got me thinking was a scene I witnessed down at the coffee shop. A mother stormed up to the cashier, her daughter, and balled her out for something or the other. I donít think that the girl was all that upset by what her mother said, but she was obviously quite embarrassed by such a public scolding. As the mother wound down, I found myself mumbling, ďI sure hope I never do that to Amy.Ē
On the drive home, I found myself thinking about the sort of parent I want to be for you as you become a teenager, and especially what I hope I can avoid. So, as a way of reminding myself of my good intentions, and also as a way of beginning a conversation with you, I have come up with the following.
1. I will give you as much freedom as you can handle. I have felt responsible for you for a long time, but more and more I have to give up that responsibility. Thatís the only way youíll ever learn to take care of yourself. But I will try to never ask you to be more responsible than you can; Iíll still be ďDad.Ē
2. I will assume you always have a good reason for everything you do. I wonít try to second guess you, or discount you. I will expect that you will always share with me your reasons for what you do, and that you will accept that sometimes I may have to overrule you. Thatís still my job.
3. I will trust you to make choices that reflect the values I have tried to teach you. I havenít just left you to figure life out on your own. Iíve tried to tell you what I think itís all about, and how it should be lived. I can already see how much youíve learned in what you say and do, in how you treat people.
4. I will respect your opinions and values, even when they differ from mine. We will have to agree to disagree at times. Thatís part of your growing up, too. Father doesnít know best, or at least not all the time. You need to know that, and decide what you think is best, even when you still have to do what I say.
5. I will treat you with respect. I wonít belittle you, ridicule you, shame you, humiliate you. When I do have to discipline you, I will do it in private.
6. I will treat your friends with respect. I will not automatically assume they are out to corrupt you or turn you against me. Nor will I try to make them my friends. I will be your father, and hopefully one that you will be proud for your friends to meet.
7. I will expect you to treat me with respect as well. Thatís one of the values I have tried to teach you. You can be angry with me, even hate me, but I will demand that you respect me as I have demanded that you respect all people.
8. I will try to ask, not assume; listen, not lecture; talk, not yell. Thatís a tall order, but you deserve it.
9. I will love you no matter what you say or do. I hope you already know that. I want you to take it for granted. There is nothing that can change my love for you.
There is more, Iím sure. But I must be tired; my eyes are a bit teary. Youíll always be my little girl (parents are allowed to say that, too), even though I will do my best to treat you like the young woman you are becoming. I am very proud of you.
With Love, DadCopyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.