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How to Write a Heartfelt Note to Your Parent or Stepparent

Updated on
April 29, 2022
Writing Tips
How to Write a Heartfelt Note to Your Parent or Stepparent

It may go without saying that you have a great deal of appreciation for your parent, stepparent, or parental figure. But sometimes saying it makes all the difference—or writing it. Remember how your parents saved every love note, handmade card, or drawing from your childhood and pinned it to the fridge? Those notes are probably few and far between in your adulthood. What better way to express gratitude to the people who raised us and shaped us than with a letter from the heart on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day?

Your parents are there for many of life’s biggest moments, from teaching you how to ride your bike to packing all of those school lunches to celebrating you at your graduation or first promotion. Though we don’t often tell them how much they mean to us, they deserve to be thanked for many years of fun memories, invaluable wisdom, and, of course, love. 

While Sunday brunch or a trip to the ballpark is always nice, now is the perfect opportunity to write something for them that’s truly from the heart. This year, why not show this person just how important they are to you by writing a sweet, authentic note that they can cherish? Let’s look at some ways to put words to the gratitude you feel for the parent in your life in a way that isn’t cliche or expected, but creative and genuinely heartfelt. 

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1 Draw connections from the very first line

What is something that only the two of you know or have shared? Whether you’ve got the same taste in music or both love to garden, giving this special person props for passing on their knowledge, favorite things, or quirky interests is a great way to start off your message and show you care. 

  • To the stepfather who showed me how to bake the perfect apple pie…
  • To the person who taught me that parenting takes patience and plenty of laughter…
  • To the woman who sparked my passion for black-and-white movies…

2 Give examples of times you really appreciated them

Telling someone you appreciate them is a nice, but slightly impersonal way to express gratitude. Instead, pointing out a few specific examples of moments when you appreciated this person would make your note more meaningful. 

Was there a time when you were facing real hardship and this person came to your aid? Perhaps there’s a small but memorable example of this person’s selflessness and kindness that you’ll never forget. Illustrate one or several of these moments in your letter so that the recipient can know the big impact they’ve made. 

  • I will always remember the time you drove an hour in that terrible snowstorm to help me dig my car out of that drift—and treated me to my favorite pizza after finishing the job!
  • I still have all the letters you wrote to me when I was studying abroad in Dublin; whenever I need a good laugh or reminder that “there’s nothing a pint can’t fix,” I reread them and think of you with a Guinness in hand.
  • I’ve never told you this before, but I so appreciated the time when you listened (over and over) to my first big sales presentation at my new job. The patience you had and the amazing feedback you gave me made it so much better than I could’ve hoped!

3 Don’t be afraid to get emotional

If you’re worried that your note is a little too cheesy or sappy, that’s okay! There aren’t many opportunities to express those deep feelings to our loved ones, those things we usually don’t say out loud. 

In writing, however, it can feel more natural and less awkward to communicate how much this person means to you in a real and personal way. Let your writing reflect your voice, your emotions, and your one-of-a-kind relationship. 

  • Mom, you sacrificed so much for me growing up and always made me feel like the most special daughter in the world. I want you to know that I see how much you did for us and love you all the more for it.
  • From the very start, you supported me in all of my endeavors and adventures, no matter how unique the path. You’ve always been there for me with just the encouragement and love that I needed.
  • Dad, you’re the calm, clear-eyed guide who keeps our chaos in check! I don’t know where we would be without you and am grateful for you every day.

4 Say “thanks” and really mean it

After plenty of personal anecdotes or reasons why this person you’re writing to means so much, don’t forget to include a heartfelt “thank you” in the letter. Doing so shows great respect for the person’s time and presence in your life. 

When you say “thank you” and mean it sincerely, people develop a feeling that they have done something to help you. Since your parent or parental figure has probably done many helpful things over the years, thanking them is the least you can do!

  • Thank you for being my inspiration to work harder, reach higher, and find joy in my work.
  • Thanks for teaching me what to value. Because of you, I’ve never lost sight of what’s really important in life.
  • You’re not just a parent; you’re also my friend. Thanks for being by my side for all the ups and downs. 

If you’re hoping to make your note a little lengthier and include more examples of your gratitude and special bond, you can also add in things like . . .

  • The qualities or quirks you love most about them
  • A happy memory with them from your childhood
  • A promise to partake in their favorite hobby, activity, or tradition together
  • The future events or adventures you look forward to doing with them
  • An inside joke (or two!) that always makes them laugh

With all of these ideas included in your handwritten card or letter, you’ll be sure to make the parent, stepparent, or parental figure in your life smile (or cry) on their special day. Though it’s not always easy to communicate appreciation, spending the time to write out just how much this person means to you will surely make an impact they’ll remember long beyond the holiday. Maybe they’ll even stick your note on their fridge.

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