This is a note to dads, though moms are welcome to read along!
I don’t know when I started writing to my boys Gabe and Nick, and our daughter Rosalyn. One or two letters were composed to them while they were in utero. I followed up with numerous letters, cards, poems, songs – all sent sporadically over the years.
They all express appreciation for my letters, but they’ve never asked for another letter. You know why? Because they know there will be another letter in their mailbox every week.
Each of those letters was a voluntary offering. I wrote letters to them from my office at DTS. They loved getting a “real” letter from Dad in the mail! Occasionally, before they could write, they would dictate letters back to me. Lauren would transcribe them and mail them to me down at work. I saved every one. I read some of them as good examples of honest writing – writing from an unfiltered child’s POV for my creative writing students.
But here’s the thing – once they reached high school, they pretty much stopped writing back. I could count on one hand the number of letters I have received from all three in the past 20 years. This is not an indictment – I don’t write to goad them into writing back. I write – by hand, always – because the act of writing allows me to articulate my love for them in a form that will last. Spoken words vanish in the spaces between our lives. A handwritten letter is an artifact of the heart. Should my kids choose to save them, they will retain and inky relic that will remind them of how I delighted in them, and how I prayed for them. And of how the Rangers were doing. And of how I ached for some Ben and Jerry’s, Everything But The….
All written by hand. Every Time. Writing by hand accesses a different part of the brain than composing on a computer. Here’s a link that will encourage you to pick up the pen and write: 4 Advantages to Writing by Hand. To summarize the article, 1) writing by hand will make you a better learner, 2) it will make you a better writer, 3) it will prevent you from being distracted, 4) it will keep your brain sharp as you get older.
I would add another: 5) it keeps the channels of communication open with your kids. I have dedicated a special red pen to the task. I use it for no other purpose than to write to my children, and they know it. Somehow that makes those letters special. A few years ago my dear friend, Fred Holmes, wrote a book titled Letters from Dad. Take a look. You will be encouraged.
So, this weekend, why not pick up a pen – maybe a red one – and write a card, or a letter to your child? You will be glad you did. And your kids will bless the day that they opened their mailbox to see a letter from Dad.