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My Daughter’s First Email

2016 January 11


A few years ago, when my daughter was six or so, I set up an email address for her. I shared the address with family and a few very close family friends and asked them to send tidbits her way so that some day, when she was old enough, she could log in and enjoy a time capsule of her young life through the eyes of those that love her the most.

This is my first email to her.

Dear D,

You’ve got mail (you won’t understand that reference, but that’s ok; we won’t understand a lot of each other’s references as time goes on).

Today, you are officially logging on. This is your email address. Your little piece of Gmail. Your passport to the virtual world, in many ways.

I don’t know how old you are going to be when you read this. I haven’t decided what the right age is for email. For your own screen time. For any of this.

I don’t know a lot of things about parenting in the digital world. But I hope we can figure it out together.

I want you to know that email – and everything else that comes as an extension of this little innocuous address – is a wonderful tool for communication. It is efficient and helpful and knows no boundaries. It will serve you both personally and professionally. It will keep close ties tighter and it will forge new paths. It will enlighten and amuse and help you pass endless hours with distraction. It will be your calling card for years to come. Your personal address that has no limitations, no zip code, no restrictions at all.

It may also disappoint you every once in a while. It may be the bearer of bad news, sad news, frustrating news. It may go unanswered when you don’t want it to. It may spam you and bombard you and call your name even when you are nowhere near it. It may make you want to log off sometimes. Even though I know that proposition seems crazy right now as you log on for the first time, it will happen. And it should. You should.

Whatever it delivers, whatever impact it has on your life, I hope you treat it as a gift. I hope you understand that today’s technology (and tomorrow’s for that matter, because that’s what you will be living) is a gift. It is there to enlighten your life and to allow you to explore a world far beyond the one you know right now. But only if it’s treated properly. Only if it’s treated with respect and dignity and self-awareness. Only if you hold on very tight to the real world every single time you log onto the digital one. The two must live hand in hand.

I don’t know who you will write your very first email to. I hope it’s to me. I hope you will let me know that you understand a little bit about the journey you are about to embark on. I hope you will let me know that you will be ok with it. That you are excited but mindful at the same time. That you will listen to our advice about all of this tech stuff and heed our warnings about safety. I hope you don’t share too much or take in too much. I hope that you will write me on days when you feel like you can’t talk to me. I hope you will send me messages when I least expect them. I hope that you will share bits and pieces of your life with me…a time capsule that I can keep forever. I hope that you know that behind this email – behind every email and social media account and virtual handle – there is a person. A person just like you, with feelings and dreams and emotions. I hope you remember that every time you log on.

But most of all, I hope you open this email with a smile. I hope you look through all the pictures and notes and stories we’ve shared with you through these early years and know they will always be sitting right here, waiting for you. Always here to bring a memory to life. Always here to remind you of the people, places and things that bring you the most comfort and love. Just waiting for you to log on. Because as amazing as this whole new world you are about to explore may be…I hope the one you’ve known before it will always be in your heart.

All my love,


3 Responses
  1. Pam permalink
    January 11, 2016

    So sweet, thanks for sharing ! So gave you decided on an age? My oldest daughter is 9. I’m not ready yet.

  2. Frances Kellar permalink
    January 12, 2016

    This is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing this!! We started an email account for our son a few days after he was born and was so glad we could create this mini time capsule capturing all the moments of our son growing up. I myself am wondering when the best age will be, but it’s been great to log on to his account from time to time to see what gramma and papa (and aunties) have written to him. Well done.

  3. belle permalink
    January 12, 2016

    We set up O’s email the day he was born. We used it to make his birth announcement coming from him. It’s funny reading all the replies from friends and relatives. That was over ten years ago when FB, Twitter and every piece of social media was in its infancy and we still emailed. With C, we set one up but didn’t use it to announce her birth (we had FB, afterall). But I logged in and saw that I sent her and O an email welcoming them to the online world.

    As for when they login and start their online journey, ours was at nine years old for O. They were given Gmail accounts attached to their school’s Google/Haiku accounts. So now he uses both (one for school projects & one for personal use). The whole digital education is daunting as a parent, but we talk to him the great things about it and the pitfalls that come with it. They’re also educated about it at school.

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