Dear Mom & Dad: A Letter From Your 20-Something


Today All Groan Up is honored to welcome Allison Fallon. Ally is honest, wise, and creative in her writing, both of which you’ll see magnified in her article below. Enjoy!


This is a letter to moms and dads of 20-somethings everywhere, of all kinds who are leading and parenting their adult children— surrogate moms and dads, adoptive moms and dads, biological moms and dads, and just any person of an “older persuasion” who happens to love 20-somethings and is parenting adult children. 

Dear Mom & Dad —

I got your voicemail yesterday. Sorry I didn’t call back. I wasn’t ignoring you, it’s just that there’s been a lot going on around here and by the time my day slowed down, I was really tired, and didn’t feel much like talking. Plus, it was past your bedtime.

I never want you to think I’m ignoring you.

Sometimes it’s just hard to stay in touch.

But since you’re sleeping, and I’m still awake, clicking away on my keyboard, computer glowing in my face while I’m half-tucked into bed, I thought I’d write you a letter instead. There are some things I’ve been wanting to tell you.


I was thinking about it the other day, about that time you asked what I needed from you, and I said, “nothing.” I changed my mind since then. I think I figured out what I need. It’s not money, and it’s not advice.

I just need you to tell me everything is going to be okay.

I need you to tell me I have what it takes.

I’m sure sometimes it’s hard. You see me making a decision that you think might hurt me, and want to protect me from that. You never want to see me hurt or sad. But the older I get, the more and more responsible I feel for my own choices. I’m trying to figure this all out, and I need you to believe I’m not going to mess everything up.

This is harder than I thought.

I was thinking about how I used to come to you when I was little and climb into your lap. I’d tell you about something that happened at school, or about how my stomach hurt. No matter how difficult the problem, you would help me fix it. Science fair projects. Book reports. A conflict with my teacher. Disappointment over a bad grade.

One time you even stayed up with me until 2am writing my English essay.

Remember that? I was such a mess, crying and swearing there was no way this would ever be done in time for school the next day. You just sat there calmly, and asked me to explain to you, piece by piece, what exactly I wanted to say.

If I didn’t make the team, or didn’t have friends, you always had an answer. You always made it better. And there are moments I wish life was still like that, that I could still come to you with whatever I was facing, and it would make everything better.

But I’ve got to find my own way now.

Don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean I don’t need you. I do, as much as ever. I just need something different from you than I needed before. I want your advice — I might even ask for it — but it isn’t what I need. What I need is your reassurance. Your affirmation. Your unequivocal confidence in who I am.

Even if I’m not like everyone else. Even if make a wrong decision.

What I need to know is when you’re proud of me. You don’t have to say it if you don’t mean it, but if you think it, it would help me to know. It would help to know when you think I’m headed in the right direction, or when I do something that makes you happy. You don’t have to. And trust me, I can tell when it sounds forced.

But if it crosses your mind, I’d love to know.

And yes, I’ll try to do a better job of staying in touch. I miss you. I worry that you think I don’t because of how little I call, but I do. You have no idea how much I love our conversations, how much of what you say I take to my heart.

You’ll always be my parents. But now you’re my friend, too.

Love you forever.

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  1. Dave

    That was beautiful. “This is harder than I thought.” That section was literally transplanted from my brain to this page.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      Thanks Dave! I’m so glad it resonated with you.

  2. Katie Axelson

    This is so sweet, Ally! I love it. Well done.

  3. Jennifer Lundberg

    As I read this I was thinking of my boys, all in elementary school, but older than they once were. Right now mommy can make it all better but not because I can really make it all right but because there is something magical about being that safe place and always being on their side. Reading your words I realize that does not change. Thank you for putting your need into words. I’ll be saving this for when they are older still.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      Awesome, Jennifer. It’s true, it really applies to parents of all kids. The younger the kids, the more guidance they need, but I’m sure it’s a constant struggle to let your kids grow up, let them fail, and let them figure it out on their own. So glad you liked the article. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Frances

    Great advice for parents of children almost any age! It was a real confirmation and message of encouragement. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Angela

    This was great for me. At times I find it hard to accept my parents compliments, so it is good to learn that I need them. And I am not the only one!

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      That’s a good point. I didn’t even think about that, Angela. It can sometimes be really difficult to accept “I’m proud of you” even when it’s said. Thanks for adding that.

  6. B

    This is wonderful! Often I’ll read an article and become excited when I can relate to several of the ideas; I find it incredible that I can relate to this whole letter. You hit the nail on the head, Ally! I’m sure many parents of 20-somethings that read this will gain some great insight to how their children feel, and many 20-somethings will be grateful to see an excellent example of how to put these feelings into words. Thanks, Ally… and thanks, Paul, for inviting her to share.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      B — I’m so glad it was helpful for you. It was my pleasure to share. Thanks for reading and for your comment!

  7. Brianna

    Growing up and learning to navigate the different way my relationship with my parents looks now is showing itself to be difficult on both ends. On some level they still want me to go to them with everything, but that’s just not the way it is anymore, and it’s difficult for them (and me) to accept it. “This is harder than I thought” is proving itself true in so many ways.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      Brianna — transitions are always hard, and this is one of those transitions in life that is just a little murky, no matter how you look at it. Keep working to figure out your adult relationship with your parents. If you are willing to work, and so are they, you’ll figure out a healthy balance!

  8. Julie

    So true! I can’t speak for my 20-something girls. But I can relate to doing a lot of those things that were mentioned with them and for them. I can also relate as a grown-up child with a mother that’s in the nursing home with Alzheimers. She has her good days and her bad days and there are so many times I wish I could call her up just because I know she will ask the right questions or have the right answers. On her good days she will still mention to me that she thinks my pants are too long and she will still notice a cold sore on my lip and ask what I am putting on it to clear it up. She still is a “Mom”. And I love her for it.

  9. Bridget

    Ally, I’ve had an epiphany. Thank you, thank you.

  10. Richa Gautam

    Every word of this article Ally, i want to convey to my we say “ek dum dil se likha hai”

  11. Amie

    This was beautiful, Ally. You’re writing is very honest and on point. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Austin

    Wow. This connected with me like the feeling of catching a hard fly ball. I think I’m going to finally get down to writing this letter to my own parents, and maybe i’ll borrow a few of your words to do it, (if you don’t mind of course)!

  13. Freddy

    WoW. I wish I could say this to my parents. its so very true.

  14. Cynthia Lacasse

    I am 30 years old new mother and this resonated with me deeply. I am in the middle of a ongoing argument with my parents where everyone is saying and doing the wrong thing out of hurt and anger. The root of the problem is exactly what is in this letter. I am so on the go with my job, my baby, my husband, house chores and life in general that the people closest to me have suffered from my lack of time. It’s so easy to say make the time, but as it goes on, it gets harder and harder to do.

  15. Gail Anastasion

    As a Jewish convert to Christianity, I had to let go of the guilt associated with hurting my parents. Over the 15 years I guarded my privacy, I cultivated spirituality outside of a sanctuary. I can relate to millennials who have left a childhood tradition. I write under gail baker


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