An Open Letter to My Daughters

Dear Annie and Brigid,

Your nonchalant refusal to take me up on my invitation yesterday to join me on my trip to the cemetery to take flowers to my parents was completely thoughtless, showing that you have hit new lows in self-indulgent, inconsiderate behavior. You were not only disrespectful to me, you were disrespectful to my parents, your grandparents.

Please let me remind you that BaBa and MéMé were caring for you, in Annie’s case, when you were just a couple of weeks old. My mother was my daycare until you were six months old. Who do you think was funding the weeks in Gearhart and Palm Springs when you were little kids? Who do you think bought the tickets for the first TWO Broadway musicals you saw? Who was paying for Waverley Country Club so you could swim and have people bring you popcorn and lemonade and anything else you wanted? My parents adored you two, nothing made them happier than having you around.

And you two couldn’t take less than an hour out of your busy, busy Easter Sunday to accompany me to pay your respects to two people who definitely deserve them.


You two have heard me comment more than once, if you want to understand children’s bad behavior you need only look at the parents. I am a lot of things but I hope to never be hypocritical so since your refusal to join me yesterday, I have been thinking about you both and how your father and I have raised you. You are both polite, charming, kind people. I have never once had a complaint from a friend, family member, another parent or teacher about your behavior. So that’s all good.

Unfortunately, dad and I have clearly not instilled in you a sense of respect for your parents and family. You have been overly-indulged and catered to. So I gotta fix that.

As I told you yesterday, I will no longer be waking you up or concerning myself with whether or not you have breakfast or lunch. You are 14 and 16, you can handle that yourselves. On regular days, I will be in the car at 7:15. On late opening days, I will be in the car at 9:05. If you are in the car, I will take you to school. If you are not, you’re on your own. Any tardies or absences are on you and will go unexcused by me. Once Annie has her license, you will be entirely on your own in the morning.

You will be making dinner on Tuesday nights from now on. You will plan the menu, make it, serve it and clean up. Let me know what groceries you need (for this and anything else) and I will get them.

You will be expected to feed the animals, clean and sweep the litter box area, and load/unload the dishwasher, clean the kitchen and keep the big room downstairs and your bathroom clean. Every. Day. What you do with your rooms, is your business but the common area must be clean. I will no longer do your laundry and that includes your bedding.


Here’s the big one….Summer employment. I suggest you start now and get summer jobs. If you do not, I will get them for you. This means applying at parks and rec, country clubs, retail although that may be tough with your ages. Camp Counselors. Oregon Humane Society. Dove Lewis. Habitat. If you need ideas, I can help you. But make no mistake, you two are not spending the summer sleeping and hanging out with your friends. I started working 40 hours a week the summer before I entered high school. I have been remiss in requiring you to work. It builds character and apparently you two are in need of that.

I think you both know that I am your biggest supporter and have worked hard to ensure you are happy and have nice lives. I have gone overboard and need to make some adjustments. It is embarrassing to write this as I’m sure some people are going to be thinking “what the hell is she doing?” And I’m embarrassed for both of you.

This one left a mark but ultimately I believe we will all be the better for it.

Much love,



61 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Daughters

      1. durbaq

        That’s okay. I totally understand where you were coming from. The worst part of it all is they won’t know what they’ve got until it’s gone. Be well!

  1. unfetteredbs

    I just have my 16 year old the summer job shove yesterday. As in get off your ass now and find a job before the college kids get home.

  2. Patti B

    What do I think of you? I luv ya! and add the comment “you go girl” I may sit down and have the same chat with my girls tonight.

  3. Anonymous

    My heart hurts for you because I can tell they made you sad. it’s good that you love them enough to do this “to” them. I wish all parents had this kind of backbone! You are showing them the most important thing in life – respect others and respect the feelings of others.

  4. Like you, my wife and heard so often about how “thoughtful, helpful and respectful” our kids are when they are with other people — teachers, at friend’s houses, etc. — and we were often left scratching our heads when those same kids give us attitude for the simplest “inconvenience,” such as bringing their dirty clothes down so WE can wash them or washing their plates after WE made dinner. We started shoving back about six months ago (clean your own dishes, do a load of laundry daily, put your own clothes away, we’re not waking you up every morning, etc) and it has made a big difference. The attitude has decreased dramatically because they suddenly have ownership in their daily lives. I think they also have an idea of the sacrifices we make as parents for their happiness; which we don’t mind making, as long as the sense of entitlement is kept in check. As parents, I think one of the biggest challenges we face is the growing sense of entitlement by our kids and society in general.

    No parent wants to be hard on their kids. We want to protect them and ensure their happiness. At the same time, we also have a responsibility to prepare them for life and it’s many challenges — beginning with being self sufficient and appreciative. Those two things will get you very far.

    Kudos to you for holding up this mirror. I have no doubt your girls a terrific people. But even terrific people need a push in the right direction sometimes.

    Well done, Maggie.

    1. Ned,
      I couldn’t agree more regarding this generation’s sense of entitlement. I have decried it for years and now I have to address it at my house. Their dad and I are having lunch tomorrow to make sure we are on the same page. Although we are divorced, we grew up together, and have the same misgivings about the direction these two chicks are headed. Balance is so important and I have let it get out of whack. I will be sure to report back on our progress….please let there be progress!

      1. Without a doubt, there will be progress! And, being divorced myself (and now remarried for six years), I’ve seen the role divorce can sometimes play as parents try to “make up” for what’s happened by overcompensating in order to reduce the strife. I’m guilty of that and, in the process, made an unrealistic cocoon of expectation that eventually collapsed in on itself.

        Or maybe I popped it… I can’t remember which…

        Anyway, the fact that you and your ex see the same problems and working from the same playbook to fix things, things will get better. In the long run, it’s going to strengthen your relationship with your kids and teach them valuable life lessons that are better taught now than later in life when it matters most.

        I’m cheering you on 😉

  5. Jane Hill

    I love you. Ryne choose not to go to see ALL grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins at Xmas break.
    I keep sharing with my youngest about a summer job . I now have my speech. Thank you.
    Oh and let’s actually do lunch!

  6. allin1life

    Hey Maggie, feel for you I really do. Mine are now 26, 24 (boys) and my girl is almost 16. My life has taken some awful twists and turns and my sons went through really bad phases between 15 and 19, but I toughened up, stood my ground and can now (finally) see that my hard work and the fact I stood by them has paid off. They’re great to be around now and my daughter has been my rock throughout my latest dilemma.

    Try not to be too hurt by teenage thoughtlessness – they don’t mean to cause pain, they don’t even realise they are.

    A bit of ‘tough love’ now will pay dividends in these next couple of ‘adult forming’ years and as you an see from all the comments you’ve had, there are plenty of us out here wearing that same T-shirt!

    Best wishes,

    H x

    1. Thank you. Yep, it is tough love time. And I appreciate you sharing. I was embarrassed for myself thinking “what in the world have I been doing” but I’m glad to hear other people have the T-shirt 🙂

  7. Wow, what a wakeup call. For you and for them. But it’s not punishment, it’s a gift! Thank your parents for a wonderful farewell present to you all. Best of luck! 🙂

  8. I will be sharing this with Erin. A teachable moment for sure as we just had a go-’round with her last week after $$ and more for her birthday; then the ‘snapping turtle’ appeared the day after. “Oh, I don’t think so, dear”.( I channeled some Gramma Powers) and said, “LOOK!…” and proceeded to lay it out.

  9. Addie

    Dearest Maggie,

    I was once you, with two teens two years apart, who had been raised with manners and, I thought, respect for others. They were good students, kind, polite, good morals–never a complaint from anyone who dealt with them. Like you, I’d receive compliments on their behavior, and I was happy I’d done a good job as a single mom with an uninvolved father. Like you, I started work when I was 15, and never stopped. They’d never held a job–not even babysitting.

    Then, something happened that, as with you, make me look good and hard at them and how they viewed things in life. In my world, it wasn’t grandparents who provided, but, me. I shielded them, picked up, cooked, carted them about…the works. They had pets, I cared for the pets. I put out the money for the things they wanted. Then, that something happened, and, I, too, took a stand.

    Long story short–it was a hard time all the way around in the beginning. Complaints, whining like I’d not heard since they were toddlers, shouting. One day, it all slid into place. Jobs and chores and getting themselves places all fell into place. I felt more appreciated, they felt more responsible. Funny how they changed their desire for things when it was their money they were spending. No more Hot Topic–sidebar, Anne now rolls her eyes and asks herself how she ever thought that was THE place for clothing–no more purchases of things they thought were necessary to continue breathing. I assigned a punishment based on any infractions, once a driver’s license was in place–you will do all of my driving around chores, including your own. That worked like a charm!

    Time passed, they grew, I stood firm, and the end result was two kind, concerned, polite, appreciative, moral, giving children–they will always be children to me–who are there for each other, their friends, their family.

    Stand firm. God gives us children to raise to be members of the world, not to focus on themselves. If we mess it up, we don’t get a new set to start over. You are a great parent…this letter proves how much you love your daughters. They are blessed.

    Sorry for the length,


    1. Thank you so much Ads! It has made me feel much better to know I’m not alone. Being a good parent is not always easy and I have definitely come to that crossroad.

      xo mag

      1. Addie

        What you are doing now is no more than polishing the diamonds already in your care. The foundation that is already in place will easily support the renovations you are now creating. They’ve been raised with love, support, faith, care, trust and the understanding they are beloved. This part is necessary to make them those citizens of the world. Remember, it’s easier to be a bad parent–unfortunately, the end result isn’t always a person who regards themselves or others as treasured, and, that behavior perpetuates. Yay, you!

  10. Sandy

    I’m so proud of you, my darling ex-daughter-in-law. You and Mitch have always been such good parents, but your blog has come just in time. Addie’s comments have said all that I have been thinking. Your comments are the greatest gift you can ever give to our girls. You and Mitch are on the same page (as we discussed yesterday) and I’m behind you all the way. Addie’s last comment was beautifully stated and reflects what is exactly in my heart. My love.

  11. I bet Annie and Brigid wish they could hit the rewind button on this screw-up. That’s quite a wake up call, Mag. Do they read your blog? Or did each get a copy of this letter on the breakfast table instead of their customary bowl of Lucky Charms?

  12. Maggie,

    YOU ROCK!!! Straightforward and well said!!! Your girls will survive your new boundaries, or what they may perceive as an injustice,they will get over themselves and come out better people in the end…KUDOS!!!

  13. Wow! way to mom!! did your daughters read it this? What did they have to say about it. And I think you were fair, and not brutal at all. We are quite blessed to be healthy and to indulge in life’s luxuries. Not many have that privilege. And it needs to be respected and not taken for granted for.

    1. Thank you and exactly! I’m happy to provide them with opportunities and Uggs, etc. but once they become self-indulgent/self-absorbed (more than the average teenager) I have to put the brakes on!

  14. Brave and spot on, Maggie. I was kinda hoping it gets better as they get further along in teen hood–just know you are not alone! They one day will see the value of your firm yet respectful words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Jane T

    I am saving this one and hoping that I never have to use it. You are so right and I hope you will keep us all informed about what comes of this.

    1. Fingers crossed Jane! You know my kids, they are nice kids just a bit spoiled. Things have been going quite well, mornings are far more peaceful …. at least for me 🙂

  16. You go girl! I can’t wait for the day ten years from now when I they pull this up and say, “Wow, thanks for this, Mom. You saved us from growing up into being assholes.”

    Also, that whole “If you’re not in the car on time, then you’re screwed out of a ride to school” thing is genius, considering the fact that I ALWAYS miss my intended train and am constantly dealing with the repercussions of being a tardy adult, and it’s embarrassing, and if ONLY my brother (who drove me around when I was in HS) was strict and all “MOVE IT OR LOSE IT, NIC” on me back then, I probably wouldn’t have this problem. So yay! You’re saving your daughters from being the hot, un-punctual mess that I am in the future.

  17. Pingback: Parenting Disclosures from my Childhood | Misc. Maggie

  18. Bravo! I just recently started having my 11 year old do a chore a day and he was making dinner on Wed (we slacked and now I have to get it back). I was not enabled by my parents growing up, but I was being an enabler to my kid (only child, sickly as a baby and had him later in life…a recipe for enabling!) – and I realized I was doing more harm to him and me than helping – even if it takes way more effort to have him participate than to ‘just do it myself’. It was a hard few weeks but now it’s a little less onerous and the house is much neater for it! I give you a HUZZAH!

  19. As someone who is not too far removed from her bratty teenager days (and looking back, I’d say I was pretty spoiled – never had to do my own laundry or cook dinner or really even clean), I can tell you that we do grow out of it. I happen to think that my parents are the greatest people to ever walk this earth (except for maybe my grandparents, and you know, Jesus), and I am so grateful that even more than instilling character through chores (though I certainly think that works!), they led by example. I think with a mother like you to look up to, they’ll be just fine! Sounds like y’all cleared the air and everyone will be happier moving forward. Cheers to you!

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