From Our Readers

Letter to My Daughter

Some days I fear I will never meet you. Some days I fear that you will never exist and that time, shhh, long ago, was the last chance. But other days I break apart completely thinking about your skin and if you’d smile with your eyes or with your entire face.

I just wanted to tell you some things in case, well, in case it doesn’t happen. In case you never meet me or in case I forget to tell you these things later on, when I’m even more tired.

First of all, do not be afraid of love. Do, however, be afraid of men with two first names. Remember that elegance, etiquette and general ‘being-a-lady-ness’ is ridiculously important. So is sticking your tongue out, hanging from jungle-gyms, drinking whisky and knowing how to creatively curse. The balance is key.

If someone is ever rude to you on the bus or in line at the bank, first try to imagine what other horrible things may have happened to that person earlier in the day. I was never good at this. But you will be. You will be courageous and kind. You will not berate a 60-year-old man in a Citgo.

Some days, you will have arrived at your wit’s end and the amount of rudeness a stranger is exuding may exceed normal levels. This is when you can, and should, berate a 60-year-old man in a Citgo. Cherish these moments, these few moments in which flying off the handle is completely satisfying and justified. They happen less than we’d all like to believe.

When it comes to dating: no one on planet Earth is ever ‘too busy’ to spend time with you unless they do not care for you. This is a fact. Don’t let people use this excuse and do not use it yourself, if you can help it. It is not easy.

There is nothing wrong with not going to college. There is nothing immoral about sex or smoking. It may not be healthy, but don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a bad person for those choices. God does not exist but you should still have faith in humanity. As hard as that can be sometimes.

Tattoos are fine as long as they compliment your beautiful skin, not mar it.

Do you know how many people had to survive this world for you to be here? If one person in the generations upon generations upon generations of our lineage before us had a heart attack or got struck by a car or eaten by a mastodon then BAM: non-existence. Never forget that. And remember that the jerkwad taking up two parking spots exists in the same coincidence of life. It is up to you to decide whether or not that is beautiful or horrifying. Hopefully you’ll decide that it is both.

Do not take crap from anyone but especially do not take crap from your mother, anyone who cherishes only a fraction of you and your girlfriends.

Take everyone’s advice critically. My mistakes will not be your mistakes. You may have better ideas, better ways of making it through the day. Keep the good, discard the bad and be careful with what you tell others.

No one looks like Anna Karina. Be wary of women who obsess over Edie Sedgwick.

Be brave with your love and do not exclude the possibility of sleeping with someone based on their political affiliation. Do not sleep with with bigots, racists, homophobes or artless people.

Never exclude the midwest. It is a gem that most people will never know.

You know nothing and neither do I and that will never change and that will always be comforting. Care for yourself, care for others and care for mystery. No one wants all the answers.

Order girly drinks at the bar when you’re young and when they taste good. But always have a strong drink order for dire times.

So here’s to meeting you and here’s to you moving the ball down the field. Do not forget about sunlight and the way bedrooms smell. TV will not rot your brain. Milk is delicious. I love you.

Alan Hanson is a writer in Los Angeles. He loves space and sometimes pays his rent on time. You can follow his blog of non-sense at or his tweets @iluvbutts247. Alan also edits and contributes to the poetry blog Looked Like Laughing.

Image via

  • Taryn Allison Boyle

    this is so beautiful. really broke my heart and did the opposite also.

  • Ramou Sarr

    This was so good and, at 28, I still need to be reminded of many of these things. Thanks for filling in for my dad this morning!

  • Jennifer Reid

    exactly what I really needed to read today. thank you.

  • Caroline Anderson

    I like most of this, but…smoking? Of course you aren’t a bad person if you smoke, but maybe mention that it’s tremendously unhealthy.

    • Caroline Anderson

      I reread and there is a line about it being unhealthy. I still don’t love that one part, but at least it was mentioned.

  • Colleen McPhee Pinto

    This is so beautiful. It sounds exactly like what my father would tell me if he were still here with me. Thanks for filling in when he can’t be here.

  • Karen Lada

    Alan, I am “veklempt!!” How BEAUTIFUL indeed!!! Thank you!!!

  • Ashley Stone

    I just read this on tumblr. Absolutely beautiful.

  • Adam Satterfield

    Just having recently been granted the gift of having a daughter this was a great read!

  • Shane Nickerson


  • Becky Simmers

    I think it’s pretty scary to inform your daughter that God does not exist. Nobody can say that for certain. Why don’t you encourage her to make that discovery herself?

    • Paige M Wamsley

      I agree. Telling her God does not exist is the worst thing you could have said. And kind of ruins this whole letter. Let her discover her own faith and belief.

  • Heather Patrick

    This article said endless amounts of terrible things. Hope this person doesnt have a daughter.

  • Annie Caldwell

    i should get a tattoo that complements my beautiful skin.

    i should get a picture frame tattooed in several spots where i think my skin looks especially nice.

  • Liz Haebe

    This was so beautiful.

  • Stephanie Albertine

    Alan this is amazing. You are so unbelievably talented. Any little girl would be lucky to have a father as creative and supportive as you!

  • Amber Arias

    Don’t forget about the sunscreen.

  • Anna Schatte

    This was so lovely to read..thank you for sharing.

  • Iris Casarez

    I loved reading this <3…i have a 3year old boy n just today bougjt a notebook where I can write him letters n things concerning our family…stories of my parents that I hope he will read when hes grown. in case like you say I ever forget to mention these things, or something seperates us, hell know where and who he comes from…

  • Noelle Christina Gharzai

    I really loved this minus god doesn’t exist part. Very well written

  • Elyse Granger

    Perfectly written; I love everything about this letter.

  • Nicole Ramos Nesson

    this was superb.

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