Sometimes writing a letter is the best way to convey your feelings to those you love. If you and your dad have a complex relationship or deal with physical or emotional distance, a letter can be the perfect way to bridge the gap and share how you feel. Writing a letter to your dad can also be the perfect way to say “Happy Father’s Day.”
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If you’re not so much for speaking about your feelings, much less writing them — don’t worry. We’re here to help you step-by-step. Writing can be powerful and healing, especially when writing letters to people who are no longer here.
Here’s some more insight if you or someone you know is going through their first Father’s Day without Dad.
Steps for Writing a Letter to Dad From a Daughter
If you’re a bit rusty on the writing process, the following steps should simply serve as a guide. Everyone works differently. Writing a letter to your dad should feel like a conversation. However, putting a bit more time and care into what you say can go a long way.
Step 1: Think about your purpose
Why are you writing this letter to your dad? Why is it important for you to write these thoughts, feelings, and sentiments rather than say them out loud? Or, perhaps, is this letter serving as the foundation for where you’d like your relationship to go?
Thinking about your purpose at length can make the rest of this process go much more smoothly. Using your idle time or setting aside some more intentional time to think about how you address those close to you is incredibly important, especially your dad.
Step 2: Reflect on what you’d like to say
Once you have taken some time to think about why you’re writing this letter, you can pay more attention to what you’d like to say. Emotions can sometimes get the best of us — in both good and bad ways. Even if you have nothing but overwhelmingly positive things to say to your dad, you should take the time to organize your thoughts to ensure they’re impactful and coherent.
If you need to have a difficult conversation with your dad, this is all the more reason to deeply reflect on what you’re planning to write. Words — both written and spoken — can last a very long time in a person’s mind and heart. Be certain that you can stand behind what you say and not take this opportunity lightly.
Step 3: Create a draft
With all of the above in mind, you’re now ready to create a draft. Drafts can be structured or loose, depending on what you’re more comfortable with. You may choose to organize your thoughts as they’ll appear in your final draft or write a version with a bulleted list instead. It’s also a good time to decide whether you’d like to handwrite your letter or type it.
If you feel stuck at any point, keep in mind your letter should flow like a conversation. If you need to break up your writing with a lighthearted pause — a joke, a memory, an obscure reference — by all means, go for it. Writing a letter to your dad shouldn’t feel like a job application or a thesis. It should come from a place of sincerity and heart. You may also be interested in ways to say, “thank you, Dad.”
Step 4: Take a break
Another great way to combat writer’s block — and to judge your work appropriately — is to take a break from productivity. Getting something “done” in one fell swoop can feel amazing, but the results aren’t always guaranteed to reflect how good you may feel. Solid writing, like many projects, take time and patience.
So how does taking a break help? Impatience is often the result of boredom or an excess of energy. If you’re feeling bored with your writing or can’t help but focus on something else, you’re not doing yourself (or your dad) any favors by trying to stick it out.
Take a break for as long as you need, but try not to let the unfinished letter linger for longer than a day or two. It’ll likely feel foreign if you try to pick it back up after too much time, and you may not be in the right headspace at all. During shorter breaks, try to be productive in a different way — go for a walk, have a healthy meal or snack, or just chill with a pet or houseplant.
After your break is through, taking a look back at what you’ve written so far can give you a fresh perspective and help you with the editing process. You can also call this the finalization process. Basically, it’s whatever needs to happen so you can send your letter off or deliver it with confidence.
Step 5: Finalize and send
You guessed it — it’s time to edit and finalize. Editing your own words is often difficult. It’s easy to get caught up in everything you’re saying, especially if emotions are involved. Beyond that, it’s often easy to ignore spelling and grammatical errors since you know how your article is supposed to read.
A good way to combat this is to read your letter from the end to the beginning. Does it still flow well? Have you forgotten any common words? Granted, your dad isn’t likely to hold any errors against you — unless he’s an English professor, that is.
Once you’re feeling confident in your letter and aren’t dying to insert anything else, you can send it off. Consider any final touches you’d like to make, such as how you choose to sign your letter or if you’d like to include a printed photograph of the two of you.
Sample Letters to Dads From Daughters
For inspiration, we’ve provided a few sample letters to dads from daughters below to get you started. What you read below may resonate with your situation, or it may not.
Sample letter to dad from daughter after a death or funeral
I wish I were writing to you for better circumstances. My heart breaks for your loss. Jim is an irreplaceable, once-in-a-lifetime friend, and that’s the truth. However, my door is always open, and my phone is always on — if even it’ll take a few attempts for me to ring you back.
I cannot even begin to fill Big Jim’s shoes, but I am here for you. I’m even willing to pick up a golf club and give that another go.
I love you, Dad.
Sample letter to dad from daughter on his birthday
Happy Birthday! I am so thankful to have someone like you in my life. You’ve always gone above and beyond for me, and I can only hope I can do the same for my kids.
Today, on your birthday, I know you’ll try to make it about everyone but you, like always. However, THIS birthday, in particular, I want you to try to focus on YOU. You only turn 60 once.
I hope the celebration we’ve planned for you makes you feel even a fraction as special as you make us feel every day.
We love you today, tomorrow, and always.
Sample thank you letter to dad from daughter
I have said a lot to you over the years, and too little has it been “thank you.” I often made being around me pretty difficult, but you never gave up on me or dismissed my problems. You scooped me up when I was down and broken and took my problems on as your own.
I wouldn’t even remotely be where I am today without you and your wisdom and your guidance and your support. This is the first of many “thank you”s to come. I promise.
Thank you for showing me that I was worth more than I thought. Thank you for proving me to me that I could work harder and achieve things I only dreamed about. Thank you for your countless sacrifices and for working hard so that I could sleep in a bed with a roof after eating a meal you cooked that I probably complained about.
I don’t want to think about you getting older, but I’d be ignorant to not know it’s happening. And now it’s my turn. Don’t ever for a minute think that I won’t have your back through all of it — as tough as gets.
I love you.
Sample letter to dad from daughter on a wedding day
It’s kind of an important day for me, but I wouldn’t have gotten here without you. Thank you for your years of tough love and for setting an example for what I should expect from the men in my life.
I am eternally grateful for your years of guidance, your friendship, and your dedication to wiping my tears when a dumb boy did something even dumber (and me being a dumb girl and caring).
It took a lot for me to get to this point, but it makes my heart so full to see you and Jason interact. All of the heartache of the past is now worth it. I’m adding him to my life forever, but I’m also adding him to yours, and I couldn’t be happier to do so. Thank you for being so welcoming.
I love you, Dad.
Writing (or Sharing) Your Feelings is Important
It’s a difficult fact that this life ends. Having a father who’s present in your life is a blessing some take for granted. Whether you’re best friends or borderline strangers, a letter can begin to bridge the gap of time and space.
With consideration and care, it’s unlikely you’ll regret sharing your thoughts and feelings with your dad, if only a few words at a time. Check out this tribute to dads as well as tips for writing a funeral speech to a dad from a daughter.