This past summer I had the privilege of attending a big music festival in Salem, Oregon called Fish Fest. What made it extra special is that it was my first public appearance with KPDQ, the station that is now hosting my new radio program, The Dad Whisperer.
It was a day I’ll never forget, due in part to the 104-degree weather, yet also because it was so meaningful to be a part of connecting with people while having the privilege of hearing their stories. I also gave away a copy of my book every hour, which was a fun way to put my book into the hands of our listeners.
Early in the day, I had the privilege of talking with a dad who told me some of his story, one that included his 17-year old daughter living in the Midwest with her mom. He said that he texts her a few times a week and that’s how they stay connected. I affirmed him for investing in his daughter in that way but then decided to say a bit more (I know…BIG SURPRISE!)
I encouraged him to write letters to his daughter periodically, adding that when a dad writes something in his own handwriting, it stands out from all the technology. I acknowledge here that I may have misread his body language, but I got the sense that I’d said enough. So we smiled and said goodbye.
An hour or two later, after another hourly book drawing, a beautiful woman in her late 50’s, with poise and grace in abundance, came to the booth to get her book. We got to talking and she shared that she had just lost her husband of 38 years this past November (about nine months earlier). She said that she had come to this event alone and was learning to branch out and try new things in this season of her life. She also said that she had two sons but was looking forward to reading the book, and then promised to give it to a dad of a daughter who could use it.
It was then that I took a risk in the hope of opening up a “deeper conversation.” I decided to ask about her relationship with her dad. She readily began talking and shared that her father was a quiet man. She said they didn’t have much of a relationship because he worked a lot. But then her tone changed and she broke into a beaming smile while telling me a specific story.
“When I was in eighth grade, my dad was out of town for business. And he wrote me two letters during the time he was gone. I don’t quite know why he did it, but I’m glad he did.”
By the tone of her voice and her radiant smile, I knew which question to ask next.
“Did you save the letters?” I asked.
“Yes, I sure did,” she said with a happy lilt to her voice, “and I still have them.”
I immediately told her that I knew just the man who needed to hear her story. I told her that there was a dad who needed to know how important a dad’s written words are to his daughter and she gave me permission to share her story. But in a crowd so large, I wasn’t sure if I’d see him again.
Yet wouldn’t you know it, the next person to win a book in the following hour was that man’s girlfriend! So there he was, back at the booth. And I’m guessing you know how the story continued.
I’m not sure that he was as inspired as I was. But suffice it to say, this is a story that bears repeating while serving as a lesson to dads of daughters:
Dad, put your words of love, affirmation, acceptance, belief, encouragement, applause, and kindness in writing to your daughter and she will most likely treasure it for a lifetime.
Action Step: Here we are with a little over a month until Christmas. What if you wrote a letter to your daughter and put it in a box as a gift for her this year? I guarantee she will treasure it!
Or maybe you want to follow in the footsteps of former Abba Project Dad, Wayne, and after writing your letter, you can hire someone to write it in calligraphy and have it framed.
No matter the format you choose, your daughter will soak in your words that you put in writing. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that it just could be her favorite Christmas present this year! Why not give it a try and see.
P.S. Though I've shared this with my readers before, I want to make sure all of you dads have a copy. "Writing a Letter to Your Daughter" (attached as a PDF) will give you lots of ideas should you decide to put pen to paper and give your daughter something to cherish that’s written in your handwriting!