A Letter to all Fathers
June 18, 2009 · Posted in Fatherhood, Infant Development, Marriage, Parenting · Permalink


Dear Mothers,

Please show this to all the men in your lives. In it they will find the simple secret of what all children want from their fathers.

Dear Father,

Here is what I need from you.  When I am a baby, take care of me. Bathe me, feed me, and diaper me. We will have fun while you are doing those things. You might not do things perfectly but I really don’t care about that, I just want to be with you and I will hold on to the memory of a masculine caregiver, the early touch of a strong, solid, but gentle man.

When I am a toddler, play, play, and play some more. Rough and tumble me and make me laugh. Let me explore. Encourage me to find my own abilities. Let me try and fall and try again. If I am a boy don’t tell me it’s nothing when I cry, don’t belittle me for needing my mom, or being scared or even being angry when I can’t get my way.  These are my natural emotions and the more I can express them out loud with you the safer I will feel.  This will help me be more sure of my feelings and I will not be ashamed to be vulnerable. If I am a girl look at me with adoring eyes and delight. Encourage my physicality and playfulness and my assertiveness. Scoop me up when I am sad and hold me close and stroke my hair.

When I am a little older, take me to school sometimes. I will feel so proud to show off my dad. Talk to my teachers, get to know my friends. They are important to me even though I am a little kid. Take me out on your own. We don’t always need to have mom with us. Let’s have our own adventures, our own special things we do. Teach me to do all the things you can do, but if I like to do something else better, come and learn about that. I feel important when you are interested in the things I like.

You can go to work and love your job, but don’t stay there when you really could be with me. Don’t talk on the phone or stay on your blackberry when you come home from work.  If you always work or you are always distracted I will come to feel unworthy. Play puzzles with me, build with legos , read to me, watch me swim in the tub.  When I am not listening tell me what is right. Try not to yell. Put me in my room, or take  something away but don’t hold  my wrong doing against me. All kids misbehave. That is what we are supposed to do while we are learning about the world. Don’t push me to the best at everything even though you will want me to be the best that I can be. It makes me feel loved if you accept that sometimes I’m just OK or even not so good at something.

The most important thing, Dad, is that you be brave enough to be honest with yourself. What ever has hurt you in life will become a part of our relationship. Pay attention to that. If you have been neglected don’t neglect me or smother me, if you have been hurt physically, don’t hurt me or be so afraid of your anger that you withdraw. Tell me about your growing up so I can understand you. Let me know your story.
Control your anger, be kind and respectful to my mother and give her love. Listen to her, spend time with her, show me how to treat women or what I deserve from other men. I love to see you two having your own private love affair. Show me how to love and be loved. Give me space and freedom and confidence and teach me respect and kindness, and that all people matter.

Never leave me, ever. I know you can’t imagine that now, but some dads do. More than you think. Never stop rooting for me, having faith in me, believing in my abilities and telling me that you love me and are proud. Care about the details in my life not just the generalities. Put me to sleep, snuggle me, kiss me on my neck and belly, and I will feel like I am the biggest gift in the world to you.

Don’t worry dad, you’re going to be great! Have a Happy Father’s Day!

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  1. Oliver
    June 18th, 2009 | 7:40 pm

    Hearing reaffirmation of the importance that a father’s presence has in a child’s life is very touching. I’ll be forwarding this message along to all father’s I know!

  2. david and ilyana
    June 21st, 2009 | 10:02 am

    this is ilyana i am 8 years old i read this with my dad. my dad read some of it and i read some of it.your blog was amazing.i loved it because it was like a story that my dad would read to me.

  3. June 21st, 2009 | 2:02 pm

    Dear Ilyana,
    This is the best comment I have ever gotten! I am so happy that you and your dad read this together. Please tell him I say Happy Father’s Day! Lisa

  4. Tina
    June 24th, 2009 | 7:20 pm

    This post made me cry. I wish my dad had been all of those things. Tina

  5. John
    June 29th, 2009 | 11:13 am

    Great Post Lisa and Jean!
    Thanks for your ongoing support of fathers and their role as parents. One thing I have found lovely as a father, in addition to the rough and tumble play is to the soft and tender play too. I’ve painted my daughters nails and I think it’s quite a paradigm shift- for them and for me— good stuff all around.
    Thank you

  6. Tatiana
    July 14th, 2009 | 12:53 pm

    Right on! Didn’t have that father, but at least I chose a man who could be that father to my children. I am grateful for that on a daily basis.
    Great post.

  7. Steven
    July 19th, 2009 | 6:58 pm

    As a father of two small kids, and just getting used to the job, this helped.

  8. Kristin
    December 8th, 2009 | 11:47 pm

    absolutely beautiful. as a mother of a 6 month old, it made me cry and cry and hope for my baby and husband that they will have that bond and relationship described. oh, how much our fathers mean to us and what a mark they make on our childhood…and the rest of our lives.

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