The Letter

My toddler daughter at Aliso Beach in Laguna, California.

My daughter called and asked me about a letter from her best friend that I never gave her. I had forgotten all about it. But wouldn’t you know, my husband on a separate phone call with her, brought it up.

“Why would your dad say anything about the letter?” I asked instantly upset.

“Mom, I’m 27 years old. I can handle it.”

At the time of the letter, my daughter was 13 years old. My daughter and her best friend had been together since birth. We (my friend and I) helped each other out with our second children by taking turns having them together several times a week. That gave one of us time to clean, shop or sleep! The older siblings were in half-day preschool.

I homeschooled our daughter sixth through eighth grade when our son began high school. Our daughter’s best friend was at a public middle school and we agreed to pick her up once a week while her mom was at work.

The plan was to have a craft or art project each Wednesday. Sometimes my daughter wanted to hang out with her best friend and not have a designated project. I thought everything was peachy when my friend said she had a letter to drop off from her daughter to mine.

She told me to read the letter before I gave it to my daughter. I was shocked. My daughter’s best friend was ending their friendship and said she was promised an art project on Wednesdays. She hoped my daughter would understand if they saw each other that she wouldn’t speak to her. She was never speaking to her again. I can’t remember exactly what else was in the letter, but it was mean and there was no way I’d let my daughter read that letter and be hurt.

I threw the letter away.

Of course my daughter wanted to know why Wednesdays were off and why she wasn’t going to her best friend’s house on Saturday, or having her over to our house.

I explained as best I could that her friend was going through some troubling times and to be patient and things would go back to normal. There were three major upheavals in the girl’s life that she was struggling through that I won’t share. But they were major and beyond what I thought my daughter needed to learn about at the time. I do think this rejection from her best friend without explanation has affected my daughter’s relationships today.

Their friendship was never the same again, although later in life they became civil.

Question. Would you have given the letter to your daughter or thrown it away like I did? Why or why not?

40 thoughts on “The Letter

  1. First, I’m glad the other mom suggested you read it first, but no I would not have tossed it. I don’t think that was my decision to make, it would be my daughters decision. I would have sat down with her though while she read it and explained as much as I knew (which sounds like almost nothing) about the situation. The whole thing sounds odd, as well as the mom of the other girl being the delivery person, giving you a warning and then poof- gone. I would need to know specifically what her part was in all this because honestly a tween being so put out about not getting a weekly art lesson seems so weird. I know you’ve chosen not to share parts of this story EA, but as it sits it makes little sense to me. Tweens can be nasty to each other, and hurtful for sure but clearly there is something much deeper going on. Still I would not have taken it upon myself to destroy what wasn’t mine.

    • I look back and wonder what I should have done and if I’d change how I acted. You are correct. There are things I didn’t share about the friend and what she was going through. The least was her dad’s cancer diagnosis. I wasn’t aware at the time what she was experiencing. We knew details later.

      • Yes, I think we act from a protective mom mode in situations like that for sure. I suppose you have to know your own kid as well and evaluate their level of maturity and all. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to read the letter in that regard but I suppose I’ve learned over time that we also have to give our kids credit for their own awareness, plus the chance to work through things themselves. Who knows what may have happened between the two girls if your daughter had read the letter…?

      • I was 100% wanting to protect my child. The other mom was doing what her child asked. My daughter says now that she has heard about the letter it sounds like something that a therapist would have told her to write, but not necessarily deliver it.

      • That’s interesting. Amateur psychologist me sees a connection between broken promises perhaps with your art lesson getting the brunt of what she may have wanted to say to her dad.

      • Interesting. I think at the time her life felt very out of control. My daughter and friend were in high school together as freshman and began to communicate again.

  2. It is very hard to say what I would have done. There is so much nuance. Your child’s personality, ability to understand, and the relationship with the other child. Back then, kids were protected from more than they are today. It might have been very traumatic for her to learn the truth then. I tend to believe that you knew her best and would have made the best decision anyone could have for her.

    • I was definitely wanting to protect my child from hurt. I was hurt reading the letter. I called my friend and asked her why she had delivered such a letter. She replied that her daughter asked her to. I think we were both being mama grizzlies. We weren’t aware of the things going on in the child’s life and the pain she experiencing.

  3. My best friend and I hated each other 172 times, and became best friends again 172 times. Sorry E.A. – you denied your daughter the opportunity to fix this the way only 13 year old girls know how too. Two things that immediately come to mind – the Girl’s mom influenced her decision, and the girl was waiting for your daughter to fix it…..which she couldn’t because she did not even know anything was wrong.

    • True. I did speak to my daughter about the situation with her friend no longer wanting to come over, but I thought the letter would have been devastating.

      • I get that. You went into “mom protection mode”, but Mom’s cannot fix tweens problems. Never have, never will. They speak a language that we are less than fluent in.

  4. Oh wow, what a tough situation. I find myself wishing that the mom of the other child had done more than just tell you to read the letter – like help coach her daughter to write a better letter.

    It seems like there are some people in this world who deal with discomfort in life by just shutting others out and maybe that’s a pattern that you couldn’t have changed no matter what you did. I think you did what you did from the best motivation. Protecting your daughter from some backlash from all the was going on in the other girl’s life was a pretty good way to go.

    It makes me think of the opportunity the letter resurfacing in conversation does today. I wonder if knowing about it will bring about some healing. I hope so.

    • It was a very hard time for my daughter and me. All around for the other family, too. I’m still close friends with the mom, although I couldn’t understand her motivation at the time to deliver the letter. I like your idea of her helping her daughter write a better one. I think my daughter does feel better now and puts the entire situation in perspective.

  5. Sometimes the best answer lies in the present when you have time to think about redressing the moment. Your husband found it necessary to bring it up, so there must be a reason and now, time to move on.

    • I wasn’t privy to my husband and daughter’s conversation. It might have been sharing the news that the friend is expecting her first child. I need to ask him why he brought it up in the first place.

      • Maybe a time to reunite. Things between friends can get touchy. Sometimes we share and sometimes, not. Maybe it is still possible to reach out and say ‘Congrats!’ to her friend.

      • Although they aren’t the close friends they used to be, they do have some limited contact. I’m pretty sure through social media my daughter said congrats.

  6. Interesting. I am not sure what I would have done but my instinct would have been to give the letter to my daughter and let her try and work it out or not with her friend. I would definitely have been there while she read it though. It is so hard being a parent and that never ends no matter how old the kids are.

    • I think a conversation would have been much better. But then that might have been too hard for the friend to call and talk to my daughter. I did tell her mom that I couldn’t give the letter to my daughter. We kept talking although our kids did not.

  7. What a difficult situation for all concerned. I agree with the thought exchanged between you and Deb…something more was going on (perhaps from a therapeutic point of view) for your daughter’s friend to do something as formal as writing a letter to end a relationship.
    I think it’s a challenge to rewind and consider how you might’ve handled the situation differently because there was nothing routine or ordinary about it – uncharted territory for all of you. I’ve decided it’s okay to give ourselves grace for doing ‘the best we could with what we knew/felt in the moment’ – even though hindsight might reveal other options.
    I’m glad to read (in the comment above) that your daughter feels she has a little extra perspective now that she knows. Life IS interesting, isn’t it? xo! 💓

    • I like your perspective that it was very formal letter. My daughter called me to discuss this the other day and said she is convinced it was an assignment by her friend’s therapist. I found out from the mom a little later that her daughter was getting help at the time. Thank you for your thoughts about “grace for doing the best we knew/felt in the moment.” It’s obviously something that stayed with me.

  8. Hard times when our kids were at such hard, vulnerable ages! If the letter was downright nasty and just name calling or all put downs, I probably wouldn’t have shown it to her, for why bring my daughter more pain. But if the girl was trying to explain as to why she didn’t want to be her friend anymore, even if it made no sense and was hurtful I probably would have read it with her, because at that age she deserved to know why her friend was ending their friendship.
    But with that said, please don’t beat yourself up over wondering if you did the wrong thing or not. You did what we Mama Bear’s do, you tried to protect your daughter. We don’t always make the right decision when it comes to things like that and we need to give ourselves grace, for we have good intentions! <3
    I will agree with what another reader said, sounds like there was a lot more going on then a missed art lesson. I have to wonder as well, how much the other girl's mom influenced the letter. Obviously she read it or she wouldn't have known to warn you. Plus these girls were 13 years old. I don't know many 13 year olds that want to go through their parent's when giving a note. Just makes you wonder what really was going on.

    • Thank you for your comment. There was a lot more going on in the girl’s life and I definitely was in mama bear mode. When I read the letter, I couldn’t get myself to give it to my daughter or read it with her. It was so out of the blue and I felt hurt. I do think the two have talked as adults about why their friendship ended. I remember telling my daughter that her friend was going through a difficult time and she wanted to take a break on their friendship. I think I was in disbelief and thought it wasn’t really happening.

  9. I’m not sure what the right answer is, maybe in a few days you’ll know, when you can find out what the results were of your daughter’s and her friend’s discussion was and why the strange note was delivered in such a strange way?

    How did it impact your relationship with the mother who you said was your friend? Did you have an opportunity to ask her about it?

    • I called my friend as soon as I read the letter when she dropped it off almost 14 years ago. I kept the friendship with my friend, even though our children did not. I respect her decision, although I disagreed with it.

  10. I would have showed my daughter the letter and said it was good riddance because that’s not the person you want in your life

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