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  • M. Winston (Winn) Egan

"To" and "For" Letters for Grandchildren

Today, I want to focus on the power of personal letters written to and for grandchildren. Likewise, I want to share what might be included in these letters.

First, I'd like you to think about the frequency of the personal letters you receive from loved ones. My suspicion is their frequency is very low or near zero. So much of what we share now is digital. We read our screen-delivered messages and then quickly delete them. On the other hand, personal letters have longer half-lives. They are more tangible and permanent. You can hold on to them.

When I use the phrase: "written to and for grandchildren," the "to" part is easy to do. You simply send a letter to a grandchild without much thought of the "for" part. A "to" letter might convey what you have been doing and other general information you wish to report. It may be a lot like a greeting card's content with a few congratulatory expressions, but not much beyond that.

In contrast, a "for" letter is a sincere attempt to be responsive to the needs of a particular grandchild at this specific moment in time. Grandchildren know these "for" letters are explicitly written for them. They can tell by the letter's contents that it was written by someone who has a good sense of what they are doing, what they are struggling with, what they are excelling at, and what they might need in the way of encouragement and hope.

A "for" letter conveys these messages—I know and care about you. I think about you a lot. I am here for you. Here's what astounds me about you. Here are my thoughts about what is going on in your life. Of course, you tailor these letters to the age and circumstances of each grandchild.

These "for" grandchildren letters also provide room for explicit expressions like these: "I hope I haven't missed the mark in conveying my feelings and impressions about your growth and challenges." "I hope you sense my exuberance for the kinds of growth I have observed in you." "If my concerns are not merited, I want you to set me right." "Wow, you have so much grit—I am awed by your commitment to developing your talents." "I love the character you are becoming and developing." "You have grown and changed in so many valuable ways this year!" "Do you have any idea how much I love you and miss seeing you regularly?"

In summary, "for" letters represent authentic and personal expressions of love, praise, support, and concern—letters tailored to the specific needs, times, events, and conditions of a grandchild's journey through their formative years and maybe longer. They are letters that grandchildren want, need, and savor. Write one today! By the way, your adult children will benefit from "for" letters too!


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