A Letter to My Parents – What a Teen Wishes Her Parents Knew
As her 21st birthday approaches, Jamie pens a heartfelt letter addressed to her parents, affirming their efforts and highlighting things she wished they had approached differently in her teens.
Dear Daddy and Mummy,
Thank you for 21 years of relationship, conversations, and love. Our relationship, while imperfect, has been the foundation on which I build all relationships. Our conversations, while unfinished, have shaped my worldview and informed my interactions with others. Your love has been an unwavering source of comfort and strength, my refuge and forever home. I write this letter on behalf of 19-year-old Jamie, a memento of her struggles in youth and timestamp of our parent-daughter journey. May this be a resource for myself, should I ever have the privilege of parenthood.
As I formed my self-concept and beliefs, your relationship with the extended family, each other, and yourself informed my perception of family and self. It is clear, your children have become your first and only priority, our needs precede yours. This has isolated you from your loved ones and has become the bane of your marriage. From your lack of self-care, I normalised not prioritising and loving myself. From the unhappiness and loneliness of your marriage, I questioned the necessity and goodness of marriage. And from your disconnect with the extended family, I saw a preview of our relationship in the future. The relationships you modelled added to my struggle with self-love and keeping a positive view of family. I wish you were kinder to yourself, prioritised self-care and your spousal relationship, and reached out to kin for more help.
As I made sense of the stranger living in my body, foreign thoughts and emotions swamped me and I had to learn to recognise the woman I was becoming. I was in constant turmoil, yet I lacked the capacity to understand my physical and emotional changes. I wish we had more conversations, to organise, process, and normalise my unfamiliar circumstance, to provide guidance and direction for my self-discovery and empowerment.
First, equipping me with the vocabulary and means of expression would have helped organise my emotions. Second, recognising my frustrations and probing me with questions would help me process my emotions better. Third, availing your experiences as a resource and acceptance as comfort would have helped normalise my emotions. Our unexplored conversations developed my dependence on online sources and clueless peers for wisdom and acceptance, and my lack of ownership in opinions caved easily under peer pressure. I wish we had more conversations, to facilitate the conversations I had to have with myself and to help craft my answer to ‘big life questions like “what is my purpose?”
Above all, I wish we had greater recognition and appreciation of our love for each other. In hindsight, you only intended to protect and guide, not hurt and harm me, but vying for independence clouded my judgement. Had we remembered that our relationship functions within the premise of love, tensions might have eased and conflicts been avoided.
But fret not, it is never too late. As I approach the end of my teenage years, I now understand that my parents are human too, and are capable of communication and forgiveness. Take this letter as encouragement and affirmation for all you have done for me. Armed with this knowledge and experience, I am hopeful for the many years of relationship, conversations, and love to come. Thank you!
Written By: Jamie Lee, Intern, Fei Yue Community Services