Pure Inspiration: A Boy’s Notes to His Dad

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You may know that our mission at the National Center for Fathering is to inspire and equip dads. I’ll tell you up front: today’s blog is pure inspiration. When you see these photos, I think you’ll agree….

Here’s what happened not long ago when a dad named Lane came home after a week-long work trip. His nine-year-old son Andy, without his mom helping or even knowing about it, created and left a series of handwritten notes around the house, like a scavenger hunt for his dad.

The first note was on the front door:


“Dear Dad, I know right now as you are reading this I am asleep. I have had a very good week. Especially when I got that Bionicle set. Tomorrow morning may you please leave a letter of how your week went? Love, your son Andy.”












A few steps into the house, Lane got his first clue:



“First clue: Go to the kitchen [for] a bite to eat. Then go [to] the loft for your second clue.”













I just love it that Andy thought about his dad being hungry when he first got home. Here’s the second clue:



Second clue: Go to the kids’ room and you will find your third clue.”













Then this in the kids’ room:


“Third clue: Go to the loft again and find the fourth clue.”













If you’re wondering where all this was leading, you can imagine Lane’s sense of anticipation. Back in the loft, he found this:


“Fourth clue: Hooray, you found the surprise!”














What was the surprise? Four more handwritten pages, taped together to form a little book. First was the title page:


“You Are a Great Father, by Andy.” 
















Second page:


“When I am down, you help me up. When I get hurt, you help me out of pain.”















Page three:


“You are good. You keep us healthy. You keep us safe. You keep us happy.”
















Last page:


“You are a great father.”














How can your heart not be stirred by that? Lane says his heart just melted.

And I don’t know what situation you’re in today. Maybe your experiences as a dad involve a lot more struggles than expressions of love. Maybe you’re at odds with your kids much more than you’re enjoying each other. Or maybe you aren’t able to see your children for some reason. It could be that you’re traveling for work and missing your kids right now.

Whatever situation you’re in, I hope you feel the pride in Andy’s notes. Lane will tell you he’s no perfect dad, but it stirs my heart to see that little Andy knows his dad plays an important and valuable role.

You may never have a son or daughter do a special surprise like that, but I hope you’ll hear Andy’s words as if they were coming from your child: “When I am down, you help me up. When I get hurt, you help me out of pain. You’re good. You help keep us healthy. You keep us safe. You keep us happy.”

Dad, know that your efforts as a father are noticed and appreciated—even if your children never tell you. They really do need you, and they would be much worse off without you. Soak in those positive feelings of love, awe, humility, pride, accomplishment, or gratitude. Then, translate that into a greater commitment to be the dad your children need. Do all you can to live up to the best that they think of you.

Has one of your children done something like what Andy did for his dad? How did it make you feel? Please add to the inspiration by sharing your experiences with me and other dads either below or on our Facebook page.

You’re a great father to your kids! Keep up the good work, dad.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Do something surprising and creative to show how much you appreciate each of your children.
  • Encourage your kids to do something special to appreciate their mom—or a teacher or coach who is special to them.
  • Take some silly photos with your child.
  • Does your child have a stressful or challenging event or day coming up? Do something extra to help make it go better.
  • When you come home from work, devote the few minutes to reconnecting with each family member before you go relax or start on other responsibilities.


Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.



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  1. William Webb says:

    Just beautiful! Thanks to Lane for sharing.

  2. Kyle Clarke says:

    My daughter wrote a post on her Facebook page earlier this year which brought me to tears. (Pasted below). She’s 14, and for the first six years of her life I was a helpless, hopeless alcoholic. I got sober in February of 2005 and was lucky enough to re-establish a relationship I thought could never be repaired.

    No one can imagine the heartache that addiction can bring unless you’ve been through it. There were many times when I would take a bus 265 miles across Michigan to visit my daughter and her Mom would put me right back on it because I had been drinking. She told my Daughter I was “sick” and couldn’t visit. It tore me apart, but as I said I was a helpless, hopeless drunk. Believe me there is nothing worse than feeling hopeless deep down to your soul.

    Fast forward to January of this year, (2013), and my Daughter posted the letter below on her Facebook page. We had been having differences at the time she wrote it and I had made some poor decisions regarding my life but her words have never left me. When I am feeling down and defeated I reread her words and they lift me up. I hope her words can lift up someone who reads this.

    “Dear Dad, We have our in and our outs. We fight but it’s just because we love each other. You sometimes criticize what I do or what I say it feels like but I know it’s only because you love me and you want what’s best for me. You’ve been through a lot in your life and I’m so proud of you that you were able to get back on your feet and go from having nothing to having everything again because not a lot of people can do that. You’re an inspiration to me and other alcoholics and I know that we’ve kinda hit a rough spot in the past few weeks but I know we’ll get over it just like we always have. You truly are my hero and when it looks like nothing else is going right just remember that I loved you yesterday, today, and I’ll love you tomorrow. Just because I’m sometimes disappointed in what you do doesn’t mean I’m disappointed in you. I love you more than anything and I’m proud of everything you’ve done to make it as far as you’ve come today ♥ “

  3. Aprecio este ministerio. Su misión es sumamente importante para este tiempo. Los padres somos los principales estorbos en el camino hacia el mal de nuestros hijos (1 Sam. 3:13), y al mismo tiempo los principales entrenadores o coach en su caminata hacia la piedad en Cristo Jesús (Pr. 22:6). Les animo a ofrecer esta misma página en español. De seguro que traera una gran bendición a la comunidad de padres de habla castellana en EE.UU. y en el resto del mundo. Les escribo desde Venezuela, suramenrica.

  4. Jake G.H. Tan says:

    What I tried and did not succeed with daughter was repeated with my son. It was more successful not because I did it the second time round with my son. There was a clear difference in gender communication. The mother was able to connect with both daughter and son. Now, daughters are apprehensive when the father is assertive. I suggest that your goodself come up with a comparison rubric that show subtle differences in saying the same the things to daughters and sons. For the reference of fathers who would only get into the emotional psychic of the female gender when courting the mother in his younger days. But not know how to do so for his daughter. It’s different. And the daughter is confused, feeling that her dad is holding back in loving her in fullness. Whereas the son fit into the mother’s style unconsciously, just like a gentleman catering for a lady. The father struggles with his own basic natural character and many mistook the reactions of his daughter as disrespectful. This gap is inevitable as more mothers go out to work for various reasons. And the father has to share more traditional mothering but in fathering ways.
    Jake, from Singapore;-)

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