Emails to the Kids

Victoria’s eight grade send off

Over the course of parenting, in addition to conversations, lectures and verbal direction, I have also reinforced philosophies on life to my kids in emails, texts and even Snapchat. Everyone communicates in different ways, and if you are going to get their attention, you have to communicate with them where they are most comfortable. So, many conversations with my kids, as well as advice, have occurred on Snapchat. 

Snapchat and texting are great forms for the kids to receive certain aspects of advice and direction, but some long form advice is better suited for conversations and emails. Sometimes, when it’s really important, a combination of multiple mediums is appropriate. Below are a couple of emails I sent to the kids after long conversations about life, at dinner or on trips together. These emails are similar, but because my kids are very different (as most are), there are certain nuances in what I say and how I deliver the message. I believe it is important to utilize many different forms, as well as repetition, to instill vision and a personal compass direction to the kids.

I share these because I believe it is important to be multifaceted when communicating with your kids. I also believe the advice is on point and helpful to most kids, not just Victoria and Antonio. I hope you find the advice and styles helpful. Victoria’s email was sent after we dropped her off at SCAD for the first time.

Victoria,

I am writing this on our return trip from Savannah. It has occurred to me that a young woman with your talent and ability, who is embarking on this incredible journey, should also be self-aware of details about yourself and others and begin thinking about capturing and recording the amazing things happening in your life. You have a very bright future ahead of you and the creativity you possess is not only a gift, it is a craft that you have worked very hard at since you were in middle school. The hours you put into creating and drawing may be a labor of love for you, but it would be a shame to not have a couple of places where your ideas, creativity and work are stored and protected. This is why I write today and why I will continue to advise both in conversation and in notes to you.

A person with your amazing talent and unlimited potential needs to think forward and reflect back on learning experiences and moments in life that helped shape who you are and what you philosophically believe in. Because of this, I believe you should consider taking action in a few areas to position yourself for winning at whatever you do and achieving the success you desire. Here are a few items you should consider embarking on in the near future:

1) Keep a journal. Keep track of (a) moments of truth, (b) learning experiences, (c) stories that are both entertaining and educational, (d) things you find motivational and inspirational. Also jot down (i) great ideas, (ii) creative concepts, (iii) OC’s, (iv) storylines, (v) what made you come up with the idea/creative and (vi) notions that pop into your head.

2) Save your drawings, all of them (even ones you hate). All of your artwork is special in one way or another and you never know when or how you can build from past efforts. Also, save all stories and writings. You should use flash drives and back up storage as well as portfolio storage for hard copies. But now is the time to save everything you do and organize it in a manner so you can recall or find easily.

3) Lastly (for now), create a folder on your computer and back it up on a flash drive to collect important documents (like this one). As necessary, subdivide folders within the main folder, to keep things organized in a manner for recall and revisiting. I recommend keeping all of your creative direction, outlines, important emails and other items you believe have significance (photos as well). 

I am very proud of you and applaud your talent and hard work to date. You are an extremely talented young lady and you have it in you to take that talent any place you desire. Please remember, in everything you do, always shoot for spectacular.

I love you and am here to support you and help you in all ways. And enjoy every moment at SCAD!!!

Love,

Dad

This next email was sent to Antonio after a trip to DC that inspired him and triggered some deep conversations about politics and history. Emails to Antonio are always more detailed as he responds better to long form advice. Victoria is a creative soul and responds better to short bursts of advice and quite frankly the above email still may have had too much information for her in one shot. Rest assured, it was repeated in other ways at other times. 

Antonio,

I am writing this on our return trip from Washington, DC. It has occurred to me that a young man with your brilliance, charm, work ethic and appetite for success should also be aware of details about yourself and others beyond the normal course of a 15-year-old boy. I know I say it often and I know you do not lack in confidence, but you are an exceptional young man destined to do great things and contribute in a large way to society and the world. I realize that is a lot to put on you at this young age and you need to know I will be proud of you whatever course you take, but I can already see in you a thought-leader and a people-leader and I want you to make the most of those characteristics if you so choose. Whether you are an entrepreneur, corporate executive, lawyer, judge, senator or president, no matter what you do your success will come through thoughtful planning and strategy as well as hard work and precision execution. This is why I write today and why I will continue to advise both in conversation and in notes to you.

A man of status, which I believe you most definitely will be (regardless of your course), needs to think forward and reflect back on learning experiences and moments in life that help shape who you are and what you philosophically believe in. Because of this, I believe you should consider taking action in a few areas to position yourself for winning at whatever you do to achieve the success you desire. Here are a few items you should consider embarking on in the near future:

1) Keep a journal. Keep track of (a) moments of truth, (b) learning experiences, (c) stories that are both entertaining and educational, (d) things you find motivational and inspirational. Also jot down things from the places you work that you believe are (i) great ideas, (ii) bad ideas, (iii) solid methods of operation, (iv) deficient aspects observed and (v) what you would do to improve to these things.

2) I know you are not fond of reading, but there is much to learn and you are far too young to abandon the concept. Knowledge is power and the more you know and absorb, the more effective you will be. So try to open your mind to reading and research. Audio books and magazines are a fine substitute for the written word if that suits you better, if you can retain what is spoken. You may want to think about historic figures you admire or are intrigued by and read their biographies. Once you begin to enjoy reading more I would recommend reading the biographies of people you may not particularly admire or are not interested in. You will be amazed at what you will learn from other points of view, not only good traits, but bad ones you will want to avoid. As you digest these materials, think about who you are and who you want to be. You are in control of that and the decisions that come with your route, but why not learn from the successes and failures of others. Be open minded in this and all areas. An open mind does not mean lack of direction, just a willingness to improve on it. I think you should also include The Art of War to your reading list at some point.

3) Begin to make lists, set goals and write things down to provide a map and direction to your course. No matter how sharp your brain is, having things in writing will make you more effective and put you in a better position to win. I cannot stress enough how important this habit will be for you and how much precise organization will propel you in all you set out to accomplish.

4) Lastly (for now), create a folder on your computer and back it up on a flash drive to collect important documents (like this one). As necessary, subdivide folders within the main folder, to keep things organized in a manner for recall and revisiting. I recommend keeping all of your speeches, important emails and other items you believe have significance (photos as well). 

I am very proud of you and applaud your talent and hard work to date. Your latest report card for the spring term with a GPA of 4.125 was not only deserved but, more importantly, earned. You reap the rewards of your hard work and you see the difference between great work and spectacular work. Always shoot for spectacular. Keep your sharp wit and sense of humor tuned up and ready to fire.

I love you and am here to support you and help you in all ways. Have fun and kick some butt at Tentacle this summer!!!

Love,

Dad

I believe that these emails support conversations and other manners of communicating with the kids. Emails are definitely not the preferred method by either kid, but sometimes certain things need to be in writing and able to be saved for future reference. I hope the kids refer back from time to time, but as they will tell you I am so repetitive in my lectures that it’s hard for things not to stick. I don’t apologize for repeating myself; I believe that repetition and multiple vehicles work. I think I will Snap them a reminder now.

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