Letter to My Daughter on Her First Day of High School

I woke up this morning thinking “Where did the time go?”

I remember the day you were born.  Well, actually, I’ll be honest, it’s a blur.  After being induced and then going through 24 hours of labor, I was exhausted.  And then upon seeing you, I was exhilarated… and scared…and overwhelmed.  I felt a keen sense of “everything is different now”.  I felt blessed and terrified.

I realize now, that’s what parenting feels like.  You alternate between feeling blessed and terrified.

And on your first day of high school, that describes my emotional state.

First, I want to thank you.  You have taught me so much.  I am certain now that God uses children to shape and form and teach us.  You have taught me and you continue to do so.  I am humbled and honored to be your mom.

As you enter those halls filled with thousands of other high schoolers there are some things I want  you to know.  Since you act mortified when I try to sit you down to “talk”, I figured I’d write instead and you can read it when you want to.  Plus, I don’t have time to put you in the car and drive around which seems to be the only place we can have a meaningful conversation.

Here’s what I want you to know.

There are days that will be fun and exciting and days that will really stink.  And this is okay.  It is all part of growing up and becoming who you are meant to be.  We cannot enjoy the mountaintop without the climb.

If you are going through tough times, remember, there is always hope.   There is a rainbow waiting for you at the end of the storm.  Always have faith.

Whatever is happening to you, matters to me and dad and it matters to God.  Talk to us.  You are never alone.

Sometimes people are nice and sometimes they are mean.  This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.  Stay nice.

Boys that are cute on the outside aren’t always so cute on the inside.  Trust your instincts.  Character matters.  If you feel something’s not right, it’s not.  Go with your gut.

Drugs are bad.  I say it every day and I know you are rolling your eyes right now but I’m serious.  Don’t even try them.  Say no.  Say it again.  Say it louder.  You are precious and your body and mind and soul will be destroyed by drugs.  Don’t even start.  Don’t even try.  If you see them in the room, leave.  This cannot be emphasized enough.  I don’t care if you need to blame me and make up outlandish excuses to get out of there – leave…run.  On that note, anyone who offers you drugs is not your friend.  End of story.

There will be all kinds of people at high school.  This will give you a glimpse of what the world feels like.  There will be lots of new faces and you will be tempted to compare yourself to others.  Don’t do it.  Comparison is the tool of the devil.  See, the fact is, there is no comparison.  Each person is unique and beautiful and created by God who loves them.  We come in all shapes and sizes…we excel in different things…we have different gifts but we are all important and vital parts of this world.  We were created for a reason and God has great plans for us.  We can’t compare ourselves because our journeys are so different.  It’s like a giant puzzle…we all look different but without one of us, the big picture would not be complete.

You have to try.  You have to try to get good grades, you have to try to make friends, you have to try to get involved, you have to try.  You have to put yourself out there to grow.  You cannot wait for life to come to you, you have to go out and get it.  This can be scary but the more you do it, the easier it gets.  Get out there…opportunities await.

Have fun.  There is no rush to grow up.  Laugh, meet new people, listen and engage.  In every situation, there is some way to eek a little fun out of it…even math class.  Life is what you bring to it so bring joy.

Believe in yourself.  This sounds trite but it’s true.  I believe in you, Dad believes in you, God believes in you but what really matters is that you believe in you.  When you believe you deserve great things, the universe will conspire to give them to you.  When you pray for good things with the expectation that they will happen, God will hear you and answer you.

I’ve heard it said that we should pray BOLD PRAYERS – that we should not ask for a C, we should ask for an A.   So here’s my bold prayer for you.

Lord, I ask for great things for my daughter…I do not ask for her to just “get by” and “do okay”.  I ask that you bless her abundantly.  I ask that you give her strength and courage and determination.  I ask that you give her eyes to see her own beauty and the beauty in the world around her.  I ask that you put her in situations that are positive and life affirming and that you give her the right words and the right actions to succeed and to thrive.  I ask for good people in her life…good friends, kind classmates, and inspiring teachers.  I ask for teachers that can light a fire in her heart and soul and make her want to shine.  I ask for teachers that understand and encourage and inspire.  Be with her.  Give her signs to know you are with her.  Burrow deep into her heart so she knows she belongs to you.  Protect her.  I ask for all of these things with the expectation that you will provide.  I trust you.

Oh, and Lord, before I end this…thank you.  Thank you for the gift of my daughter.  Thanks for knowing I need her and she needs me.  Thanks for putting us together. 

And while I’m at it…please bless and protect all kids starting high school and all moms.  This isn’t easy but it is exciting.

See, we are back to the beginning…blessed and terrified.

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved


38 thoughts on “Letter to My Daughter on Her First Day of High School

  1. Kai

    This is really inspiring! My daughter started her first day of high school today and I couldn’t be more excited for her. God bless you and your writings. <3

  2. Claire Whittum

    I have had a range of emotions with my {youngest on earth} daughter starting high school tomorrow and had a hard time putting the exact message I wanted her to hear into words. I feel so moved, comforted and touched by your words. I had her undivided attention as I read this to her. Such a blessing. Thank you for sharing this! God knows exactly what we need, when we need it. Praise God for leading me here. Thank you.

  3. Pingback: Tomorrow: High School! | sammyandkatie

  4. Pascale

    Thank you Sue! I don’t know how to express my feelings on paper, so I was very happy to come across your letter. You wrote exactly how I feel.

  5. Edith

    Very relevant to me,my son and my daughter are doing grade 8 this year.This is a nice and a moving piece of writting.Well done Sue

  6. Maribel

    Beautiful. My daughter is about to start High School and as excited I am, I’m also terrified. Your words are beautiful.

  7. Kelli

    My daughter is in her 8th grade year and I stumbled upon this letter. How perfect your words are and I just sobbed as I read this. I coudn’t have said it any better myself and will definitely be giving my daughter a letter to read as well. Thank you!

  8. Linda

    Dear Sue,
    What beautiful, poignant and timely words you have written to your daughter. I, like many of the other women who posted a comment, wish I had been in possession of this writing when my two girls were starting high school. As the mother of two precious girls who were both gifts to their daddy and me, from our Father God, I am so pleased to have found your letter at this time. My girls are way past high school and college, but go through things in their lives that your letter would make very current for them. As a matter of fact, as I read your letter, I thought there was much advice I need to be reminded of, even at my age. We need to remember to never be afraid to engage in life no matter the position we find ourselves in… Young mother, mother of tweens or teens, or even adult children, they never stop needing us. They need us to cheer them on, give them our support and guidance, lavish them with our love and remind them often to never forget Whose they are. Thank you, Sue, for reminding me that I cannot wait for life to come to me, I have to go out and get it! My prayers will be fraught with a new sense of expectation from this day forth. And I will share your letter with my three precious granddaughters and grandson.
    Thank you and may God bless your days and your writings. They are Inspired from above and I know God smiles when you write to all of us.

  9. Lisa

    Sue this is so beautiful. I am going to keep it and give it to my daughter next year!! Thank you for being such a wordsmith and putting into writing what is in our hearts. God has richly blessed you with this gift~thanks for using it to glorify Him.

  10. Julia Doyle

    Just a beautiful piece Sue. It is going to be passed down to all my girls and kept in my nightstand to reread. Thank you!

  11. Nicole Greifenkamp

    On-point, beautiful and moving, Sue!
    Keep up the inspiring words! While I agree that you are lucky to have your daughter in your life, one thing is for sure, she is very blessed to have you as a mom!

  12. Beth Tegtmeier

    Sue, you are such a blessing to me and so happy that God has brought you in to my life. My daughter had a really rough first day of high school. I plan on sharing this with her today after school in hopes it will fill her soul and mind with understanding, hope, clarification & joy. You are blessed by the Holy Spirit with the gift of words, thank you for sharing them with all of us.

  13. Stephanie


    Thank you for sharing your gift and inspiring so many! Plan to change some pronouns and share insight with my boys. Thank you for the “perfect script” but more importantly thank you for the inspiration!

  14. Ann

    Wonderful post Sue! You have such a gift for expressing your thoughts in print – I’m saving this one for my kids. Thanks for sharing your letter!

  15. Nancy Ryan

    I am a grandma……………….I so wish I had the wisdom to send to my daughter who is now 45! God Bless all you moms of High School Freshmen!! Life is Good!~
    Carry on, girls!!

  16. Laura

    This is completely how I feel sending my son off to college. In high school at least I still had some control and input into his life but now…he is on his own. I just hope he remembers his roots and how he was raised. Excellent words of advice from your column!

  17. Lisa

    You have such a beautiful way with words…thank you for your moving, insightful and motivating blog. It’s excellent!

  18. irish

    another great post sue. teenage years can be challenging, but you are giving her the tools to navigate wisely and are unafraid to tell her the details of your heart. i smiled at her reluctance when you mention talking to her and how car “talks” just might now be good enough for such important sentiments. they learn quickly that they are your captive audience in the car! it seems that not so long ago my daughter felt the same way. it takes courage to let a child see or hear the hopes and fears you have for them. although yours may not acknowledge or appreciate your words right now…someday you may see a tear on her cheek as you continue to share your heart over the coming years and with each event you cherish…and if she’s anything like you, eventually she will find the right time and words to let you know how much she loves what you have expressed in putting pen to paper today. i always maintained that they may not listen…but they will always hear you. she is indeed blessed!

    my daughter was blessed enough to meet you a few years ago and mentioned several times over those years, how much she values your meeting. through your blog, i now get a glimpse of what she sees in your character and heart. perhaps i have taught her well to surround herself with people that care, inspire and lift her up….whether with their caring, concern and integrity, or their faith, love, hope and strength of character. she has chosen wisely in you. and you must like mary engelbreit…how great is that!

    just thought that you should get a little back from what you do for others!

    1. irish

      my so thought meticulous checking of spelling and grammar in my earlier post did not catch that “talks might now be good enough….” should read NOT be good enough…”

  19. Maggie

    Sue, you of course did not miss a beat… So beautiful. I have tried to say these very things to my kids but goes in one ear, out the other. But written in a letter to my children will be most powerful! I will leave this for them all, no matter grade, son or daughter. Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration and wisdom.

  20. Beth

    Thanks so much for the insightful post. I dropped off my baby to Kindergarten this morning, his eyes are wide open with excitement and mine are filled with tears. Wish you were here or I were there! This fills me up!

    1. Sue Post author

      Love you Beth! It’s okay…it really is going to be okay…all of it…God loves our kids more than we even do – can you believe it? We are so blessed. xoxo

  21. Mom

    Through my tears over your blog and the memories that were rekindled I want to send a prayer for all the wonderful young mothers of High School Freshmen. May God’s richest blessings flow to you and your children. You have done your best, be faithful, prayerful, and allow God to do the rest.

  22. Sheila

    God gave you such a gift for expressing what many of us moms are feeling! I sat in my car crying as my freshman walked into school this morning. My two biggest thoughts were how did this happen so fast and please god bless him! This will be printed and waiting for him when he arrives home today! Thanks, Sue!

  23. Debbie Green

    Wow! You have such a gift! Thank you for sharing this with us! You’ve put your feelings and thoughts down on paper so that we can all benefit! As i was reading this I was thinking, can i print this out for my daughter? It looks like I’m not the only one. The years flowed in this one- its hard to believe our babies are growing up so quickly!

  24. Jakkie

    Thanks again, Sue, for giving a inspired voice to my thoughts and feelings. I’m printing this out for my daughters…hope you don’t mind 🙂

  25. Jacqueline

    Thank you for putting your wisdom into words and sharing. Wishing you a wonderful school year! Welcome to High School Parenting!

  26. Peg

    Wow, Sue. Thank you for this amazing letter! I’m printing it now and handing it to my almost high schooler and younger kids, too. I hope your words will resonate with all of them. Best wishes for a positive high school experience for your daughter!

  27. Mary Jo Quirk

    I used your words of wisdom on our ride to school. I love this so much I want to print it out and put it on each of their pillows. Thanks Sue!

  28. Susan

    This was beautiful….and so true!!!! It was inspirational as well. It truly is like back to the beginning; blessed and terrified. Your words describe exactly what I feel and believe. Thanks for your comforting words this morning!


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