Dear dads,

We see you.

You are seen. You are loved. You are appreciated. You are adored.

We see how tired you are.

How you work all day long, giving your best, excelling at what you’ve chosen. Then you come home, and even though you have nothing left to give, you still do. You play with your kids. You mow, you shovel, you sweep, you do the dishes. You let us take some space from being the children’s first responder. You love.

We see your self-sacrifice.

How you would rather watch TV, or sleep, or golf, or something other than be domestic. But yet you do. You give of yourself even when you don’t want to, when you feel like a shell of a man. You make decisions that put everyone else in your family first and leave yourself last. Your money goes to us, your time goes to us, your thoughts go to us, your dreams go to us. Your sacrifice is humbling.

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We see your pain.

You try to be strong for all of us, to hold up all our emotions and our bad days. But we can see you on your own bad days. Don’t try to hide it. The strength you have given us will be given back to you. Rest into your family. We can hold your aching.

We see your fear.

How you’ve never been a dad before. How you’ve never led a family before. How Every. Single. Day. has new challenges. How you feel like you don’t have it all together like you should as a father. But you are thriving. Every day you move toward love and make decisions that breed life. Fear should fear you, for all your courage and potency.

We see your insecurity.

To accept that men have issues like women is still taboo. But hold the space you deserve. Be the conversation. Lean into the love you’ve fostered in your family and realize you have a place to struggle. A place to be vulnerable. A place to work out your weaknesses. A place to be held up in love. Because vulnerability breeds strength, not weakness.

We see how you feel alone.

How you don’t often have time for friends because you divide your time selflessly between work and home. We will work at balance together. Because we are both more than being a parent. We need each other, but we need our friends, too.

We see your charisma.

How your children adore you. They will be more successful in life because of you and will likely have higher IQs. You play in a way they need, in a way we just don’t quite get. You throw them too far, push their swings too high, and tackle them too hard. You are their hero. And for how you love our children, you are ours.

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We see your sensitivity.

How your family has your whole heart. How their tears make yours well up. How their frustrations become yours. How their pain makes you throb. How their success has become more important than yours. How their hugs and I love yous melt you in a way that increases your capacity for kindness. Your gentleness is our backbone, your compassion is our strength.

We see you, dads.

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And we want to tell you that you are doing the best job.

You are everything a father should be and more. You are a vessel of love that pours into your family. We are all better because of you. We cannot do it alone and are incomplete without all you give. We need the way you balance, the way you love, the way you struggle, the way you lead. We need your compassion, your gentleness, your strength, your influence. We need you.

We appreciate you. We adore you. We love you.

Thank you, dads, not for what you do, but for who you are.

Love forever and all eternity,

Previously published on the author’s blog

Erika Rachelle Anderson

Erika is an elementary school teacher, recently turned stay-at-home mom. She and her husband of 10 years have three beautiful girls (ages 3, 4 and 5). She writes about finding the calm in the chaos, focusing on faith, parenting, and mental health at