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On my daughter's sixteenth birthday, I wrote her a letter containing all the advice I wish someone had given me before I became an adult. Due to popular demand, I made a printable version, available for purchase, too.

An Open Letter to my Daughter on Her Sixteenth Birthday

My Dearest Daughter,

Where did the years go? It seems like just yesterday your dad and I were waiting to meet you. Anxious to know what you looked like. Would you be a blonde or a brunette? Would you have any hair at all? Whose eyes would you have? What would your laugh sound like?

We had so many questions.

Now here we are, sixteen years later. You’re on the brink of womanhood. In two short years you’ll be packing your bags for college, work, or wherever God has you going next. You’ll be voting and driving. Thinking about adult topics like careers and marriage.

Our relationship is changing. No longer do I need to manage your every decision. My role is changing from benevolent dictator (a nice one, of course) to loving advisor as you take on more and more responsibility for your own life. But before I give up the reigns of everyday parent, I’d like to pass on a few thoughts.

1. Don’t Neglect Your Most Important Relationship

I’m not talking about your relationship with me. Or your relationship with your dad. Not even the relationship you’ll have with your future husband. I’m talking about your relationship with God. Always make time for Him. Study your Bible. Pray. Go to church. Discuss what you’re learning with friends.

When you’re happy? Praise God!

When you’re angry? Ask God to change your heart.

When you’re sad? Turn to God for comfort.

The more you put into your relationship with your Savior, the better you will know, love, and trust him. If God is your number one priority, all other priorities will fall into place. Life won’t be perfect, but you will have all the wisdom, assurance, and comfort you need.

2. Try Your Best and Don’t Worry About the Rest.

You do not have to be perfect. None of us are perfect. God created you with areas of strength and areas of weakness. Put 100% effort into your endeavors. You may not think it is enough, but where you are weak, God is shown strong, and you can be assured that He is using your trial for His glory. It may not look like the success you envision, but God’s plan is often mysterious. You just keep putting out the effort. Trust God for the results.

On my daughter's sixteenth birthday, I wrote her a letter containing all the advice I wish someone had given me before I became an adult. Due to popular demand, I made a printable version, available for purchase, too.

3. Education Doesn’t End at 18 {or 22}

I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but learning is a lifelong process. I’m more than twice your age, and I learn something new every day. When you stop learning, it is a sign that your brain is not being used to it’s full potential.

Learning is essential for growth. Whether it’s your Bible, your music, or some obscure skill, there is always more to learn. Nobody ever reached the end of her life knowing it all. Be a willing student of life.

4. Risky Business is OK {Within Reason}

Risks. I know you hate them. I don’t think it’s so much the risk that is scary but the fear of failure. Most people are wrong about failure, though. Failure is not bad. It is merely a chance to learn from our mistakes (see point #3).

Sometimes in this life, you will need to take risks. Perhaps it is risking your vulnerability by asking for forgiveness. Or maybe it is applying to a college that’s a little bit of a long shot. Sometimes it might be listening to the Holy Spirit prompt you to share the gospel.

Will you be rejected? Maybe. But that’s the worst that will happen. Learn and move on. Will you find success? That’s another possibility, and often the greatest successes come with the most risk. So take calculated risks (not insane risks like taking a test without studying…that will only get you a failing grade).

Remember, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6 ESV. Memorize it.

5. You Are a Masterpiece. Don’t Become a Cheap Knockoff.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus. so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT).

Masterpiece. I love that word. You are God’s masterpiece…a beautiful work of art. Treasured. A rare gem.

The Bible does not say you are becoming God’s masterpiece. You are a masterpiece. Right now. Despite what you may think of yourself.

You are a masterpiece, even if you are short, shy, or bad at math.

Don’t try to become someone else, because that someone you’re trying to become is a masterpiece in her own right. And imitations of masterpieces aren’t masterpieces. They are cheap knockoffs. Imitations are never as good as the real thing.

Don’t be a cheap imitation. Be the masterpiece that you are. God created you the way He created you, because He has a purpose for you. You can’t fulfill that purpose while you’re busy trying to be someone you’re not.

That’s all the sage advice I have for you today, dear daughter. I love the woman you are becoming, and I can’t wait to see the work God does in your life. I know you have exciting times ahead! Life is never boring when you follow God with your whole heart. I know, because the last sixteen years have been crazy. Crazy in the best way possible. I couldn’t ask for a better firstborn. Happy Sweet 16!



Note: You may now purchase a printable copy of this letter to give to your own daughter here.

  • Cheryl Smith

    What a beautiful letter and such wonderful advice for your daughter! So thankful to have found your blog today…I am curious about your last name. My mother was a McCoy. We are from Dayton, OH. I wondered if possibly there is any relation? I still have lots of family in the Dayton area. It is a fairly common name…but still, I thought I’d ask! God bless you, Cheryl Smith

    • Lynnae McCoy

      Thank you!

      I will have to ask my husband if he has any relatives in the Dayton area. I think most of his McCoy relatives are from Texas, though.

  • Sherryl @ SimplySherryl

    Love love love this!
    Thanks for sharing with us on Good Tip Tuesday –

  • Heather Durbin

    I absolutely love this letter. My husband & I adopted my 6yr old niece and she’ll be 16yrs in March; I will definitely be using a lot of your advice. Thank you so much for sharing

    • Lynnae McCoy

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you were blessed!

  • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    This is absolutely beautiful, Lynnae! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. As I was reading your letter, I was thinking about a letter that I posted to our son when he turned 16. Boy or girl, the advice we have for our children is the same….love God with all your heart, know who you are in Him, and He will guide you in your life. She is blessed to have a wise, God-fearing mother. Blessings to you and yours.

  • Melissa Rodriguez

    Thank you for sharing this! Know you are glorifying God by sharing your tips to help other parents and I am one of those parents who has been helped today. Praise God for who He is and for using you!

    • Lynnae McCoy

      Thanks, Melissa! And I know exactly how you feel. I read a blog post today along these lines, and it totally blessed me! I love how God puts the right words in front of our eyes, just when we need them!

  • Christi Hubbart

    Wow! That is absolutely perfect! My daughter wants to be a minister, and I feel like this was written for her! THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!!

    • Lynnae McCoy

      I’m glad! Thanks for letting me know!