A Birthday Letter to My Father

A Letter To My Father On His Birthday—Because Words Are The Best Way To Express My Love For You

My words are better than any tangible gift.

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Throughout the roller coaster that has been my relationship with you, we have gotten only stronger and better able to communicate. I spent the last month trying to think of a gift that is worthy of your ownership, but I have found that the best gifts are the ones that come from the heart.

Happy birthday Dad. I love you.

Jasmine Rainey

Hi Dad,

To begin, I would like to share part of a poem that I found, written by Edgar Albert Guest.

"Only a dad, but he gives his all
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen,
Only a dad, but the best of men."

I found this, and it got me thinking about how much I admire you. I don't know half of what you have been through, but I know that it is more than me. From your experiences, you have taught me how to avoid them. You've taught me that it takes a village to raise a child and that neighbors will not hesitate to snitch when you are doing something that you aren't supposed to. You've taught me how to be responsible with my money (a lesson I am still learning), how to treat those I disagree with, and how to use my voice effective and respectfully. Most importantly, you have taught me to be an independent, black girl.

Jasmine Rainey

Dad, I wrote in a journal some years ago and said, "I always look up to you because you are the epitome of strength and responsibility. I never want anything more than to make you proud." That statement is true to this very day. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect daughter, but you always remind me that you love me — not just for who I am, but for who I am becoming as well. You've never once given me a reason not to be myself around you.

With you, I know that I can root and toot to my heart's desire. With you, I can love whoever I want and know you will still accept me — and that might be the most important way you have shown your love. Coming out to you was nerve-racking, to say the least. I was scared that you might question it or not want me to be your daughter anymore, but you didn't react at all. You immediately reassured me that, "you are still my daughter and I love you." You may not have realized how grand of a gesture that was, but it meant everything to me.

Jasmine Rainey

I think the thing that I really love about you most, Dad, is that we have grown together. You have not remained the same person you were when I was three, thirteen, or seventeen — and obviously neither have I. You have always said that "we are smarter than we were yesterday," and it is unbelievably true, especially for us. Our relationship is stronger than it was yesterday or last week, last month, or last year. We are growing so close, and I can't imagine having it any other way.

I love you so much Dad. Happy birthday!

With love,

Your little princess

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Blocking Toxic Family Members Can Be Just What You Needed

It isn't an easy choice but it can be the most rewarding.

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I haven't written for the Odyssey in quite some time due to this large issue in my life that I feel some people may also need to hear. Watching your parents go through a divorce can be difficult in itself, but what about having to remove one of your parents from your life at the same time? It's something I don't think many people could imagine doing. However, sometimes you are forced into the position between choosing what is best for your mental health or what is expected of you. For me, I realized that I needed to put myself first.

I realized that I am my own person. How I present myself and how I act and what I choose to believe in is how the world perceives me. I was faced with a parent who did not let me be who I am. The way I thought had to be in line with theirs. What I openly spoke about had to be in line with that parent's thoughts. This also, in turn, meant I had to revolve how I was perceived to the world around that parent's family. I had to abide by these societal norms and do what someone else expected of me. I realized that was ludicrous.

This parent was also abusive. They were toxic and manipulative and I could not stand idly by and just take that from them while also trying to become an independent young adult. I was forced to sit and watch one of my parents transform into someone I didn't recognize anymore. I had to watch them ignore any kind of reality checks and continue to feign innocence. I watched one of my parents mentally manipulate people I once called family into believing lies. I kept my head down and shut my mouth and kept taking the abuse. Now I'm at a point where I can confidently say that I am no longer afraid.

I was forced to cut ties with a parent that raised me, cared for me, attended school functions, fixed toys, bought me my first phone. I was forced to chuck out priceless memories for my own sanity. I could not sit idly by and allow myself to endure one more second of lies or abuse. I had to stand up for myself for once in my life and I blocked most of my family. I blocked cousins, aunts, uncles, and godparents. I changed my phone number that I had since 6th grade. I gave no warning and disappeared from my family's lives. Do I have regrets? No. I would do it again if I had to because I am so much stronger than sitting there and taking it.

I will have one less parent at my college graduation, which I am fighting so hard to achieve. I will have one less parent at my wedding. My future children will have one less grandparent. I mope in these thoughts but then I have to remember the other side of things. I will not have an unsupportive parent at my graduation and instead will have those that were there every step of the way. I will lack someone who was toxic at my wedding. My future children will never have to face the same abusive, toxic situations that my parent put me through. It was a difficult decision to make but one that I know in my heart is worthwhile.

Cutting a family member out of your life is difficult enough but cutting a parent is unimaginable. However, no one deserves to go through abusive situations. It shouldn't matter who the person is; if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, they have no use being in your life. You should always be your first priority. You should never have to endure something for the sake of others. I am here to tell you that you are more than that and that cutting out a family member could actually be the best thing for you, even if it's incredibly difficult. I did it and I'm still here. It made me realize who my real family was, and there will never be enough thank you's in the world to show my mother just how much I appreciate her.

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