Understanding Dad's role in his daughter's life from her point of view

Dad's role comes with great responsibility.  He is the first male that most girls love.  You'll learn what you can do to become a hero in your daughter's eyes with Shoebox Letters: Daughters to Dad.  Bringing you over thirty real letters from daughters to their dads, written by teenagers, young professionals, baby boomers and more, these letters give rise to nine key themes that every dad should know as he raises his little girl.  You'll read how to Be Amazing, Be the Example, Be her Hero, and more.

Interested in your own copy?

mark victor hansen

Mark Victor Hansen: Co-author, Chicken Soup for the Soul

"Treat yourself to having your heart lovingly uplifted, melted, touched, and thoroughly warmed by reading, re-reading, and sharing this great book out loud with someone you love, like I did with my wife."

Matthew Kelly: Acclaimed speaker, NY Times bestselling author, and consultant

"The role a father plays in the life of his daughter is unique and irreplaceable. If you have ever wondered what your daughter is thinking - here it is! In the pages of this book you will find tremendous inspiration to step it up a notch and be an even better father than you are today."

Matthew Kelly
Rhonda Starghill

Rhonda M. Starghill: Director of Membership, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio

"The letters in Clay's heartwarming Shoebox Letters collection will make you giggle, will make your eyes tear up and they will, most importantly, inspire you.  They will inspire you to be a better parent, to be a better daughter, and just maybe, to write a letter to your own father."

Marina Maher: CEO, Marina Maher Communications

"As the founder and CEO of an agency that specializes in marketing to women, I was delighted to read Clay Brizendine's book, which celebrates how the love and devotion of fathers has shaped their daughters' lives. This book gives daughters a rare opportunity to reflect on the profound contribution their dads have made to the paths they chose - in their careers, in selecting a life partner and in parenting their own children.  Fathers will recognize parts of their children in these letters.  And if they've never heard these thankful words from their own daughters, it will make them realize they are inside them... just waiting for the right opportunity to come out!"

Marina Maher

Shoebox Letters: Daughters to Dads Foreward

We chose not to find out the sex of our first child at our 20-week appointment.  What was done was done, and knowing whether we were having a boy or a girl was something we wanted to wait on.  And so we did.

April 16, 2004 was the day that my first daughter was born, but for 10 seconds I wasn't so sure she was a girl.  From my vantage point at the top of the bed, the nurse-midwife's call of 'It's a Girl!' didn't seem right to me because of an ill-placed umbilical cord.  But soon enough, the team of professionals in the room showed me that it was, for sure, a girl, and my thoughts suddenly turned to… Now what?

I had grown up in a testosterone-infused family.  I had two younger brothers, 4 of my 5 first cousins were boys, and sports were the norm from the day we were born.  Growing up in the '80s, girls had cooties (and maybe they still do – I should ask my kids), and with no female around except Mom, they got little attention in our house until middle school.

In September of 2005, daughter #2 made her way into my family's arms.  Not only did she choose to make a bold entrance – false labor 2 days before actual birth, a 90mph trip to the hospital at 2am, and a delivery mere minutes after my wife made it onto a bed – but she chose not to eat the first week of her life. The trips to the hospital and worry for a sick child drove home very readily, if I didn’t already know it, that I was a parent.

But a parent of daughters, 16 months apart no less... what was this going to be like?  I had brothers and male cousins and boys I hung out with growing up. No one in my family could tell me 'Clay, here's what it's like raising girls.'  So I started doing some research of my own... and what I found was incredible.

My women friends were so interested in talking about, eager to talk about, and ready to talk about their dads that I barely had to ask the question.  Many started the conversation with 'Oh, I am soooo Daddy’s little girl' or 'My Dad can do no wrong.'  I was shocked.  Really?  I love my dad like no other, but there were some things he did wrong.  I was fascinated with how boldly women would talk about their dads, how great he was in their eyes, and how long the conversations could really go if I let them.

To be clear, I had friends who have said just the opposite.  Their dad wasn't around to do the things that a dad should.  I've heard stories of 'my dad wanted boys.'  Divorce crushed the dreams of others.  Some dads don't measure up to what we'd like.  It can be for a point in time, or it could be a lifetime.  As Rocky says in Rocky Balboa, 'The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows.'

Both of these types of stories you'll read about in the following letters.  There's as much that can be learned from the stories of less-than-ideal fathers as the stories of those that played the role perfectly.

Shoebox Letters: Daughters To Dads is a project that I've been working on for a long time.  Not the book itself, but the stories.  The conversations.  The memories brought to life in an instant.  The emotions: raw, good, and bad.

Over thirty letters in this book are addressed to real life dads from their real life daughters.  No editing, no scripting – what you see are the letters themselves in their native form.  I did, however, ask them to all start from the same jumping-off point:

"Dad, as I thought about our relationship at this stage of my life, and what your role as my dad truly means to me, I wanted you to know a few things."

Letters from those just starting college.  Letters from women executives.  A letter from a woman whose father has passed, and two from women whose mothers passed while they were younger.  Letters from women whose parents' marriage will last the test of time, and those from homes of divorce.  You'll find them all here.

What you'll also find is a degree of anonymity.  For some, sharing stories and thoughts about their dad was easy, came naturally, and they didn't care if anyone knew who they were.  For others, this was stretching, and it was an exercise that while personal, they wanted to share under the condition of being anonymous.  All requests were granted on this front to keep the book as real as possible.

The book's format wrote itself.  I didn’t set out to create a "Top 10 themes of fatherhood," but amazingly a handful presented themselves such that I almost had no choice but to call them out.  You'll see the letters grouped throughout the book within these themes.  You'll also notice blank pages at the end of the book. They are there for you to use to turn your own story into your own letter.

I want any man reading this book, whether a current father, father-to-be, or neither, to understand the varying roles that a dad plays in his daughter's life.  For most girls and women, their dad is the first male that they love in their life.  With that comes amazing responsibility.  While the roles of teacher, mentor, coach, friend, etc. all come into play for any dad, they take on special meaning with daughters.

I want any woman reading this book to give herself a chance to reflect, and then maybe to share her own story.  Maybe there's a mom who reads this and gains some insight into how her husband and daughter communicate.  Maybe it makes another woman think more about her own relationship with her dad.  Whatever the case might be, I hope the insights are invaluable.

I hope you get as much from reading this book as I did compiling it.  After taking my own notes from these letters, I'm confident that I'll be a better dad to my daughters.  I'm confident your relationships will change for the better as well.