The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Contest Winners #227: Letters to Parents
What should your parents know about you—but don’t?
Writing Contest Winners

The cash prize winners for “Letters to Parents” are picked at random. To protect the identities of the writers, we aren’t publishing real names or listing the honorable mentions. Also, all names and some details in the letters may be changed.

Dear Mom and Dad,
You think you know me so well. I am, after all, your daughter. You raised me to be the young woman I am today—of course you should know who I am. But you don’t. Not really.
This is what you see: I am smart. True. I am hard-working. True. I am shy. True. I am beautiful. Maybe true.

Those are my labels. That is what you see in me, your daughter. But that is just the outside of me. There is so much you don’t know.

Your daughter

Dear Mom,
I’m doing really well in my classes. You already know that though. That’s what we can talk about—assignments, essay ideas, and my GPA. I suppose it’s because we can relate over numbers; we both rely on facts. We fall back on them when we’re unsure, and when the world is crazy, we can rest peacefully on the things we know.

I’m popular and have good clothes, but I hate the way I look in them. I get invited to parties, but I hate the way people act at them. I hate a lot of things.

But I love a lot of things too. I love chocolate chip pancakes and soundtracks from ’80s movies. I love hearing stories about princesses and pirates and writing them too. I love driving with the windows down and quoting Adam Sandler movies.

I wish I could tell you that I spend half the time that you think I’m doing homework watching old SNL episodes. I wish I could tell you I want to take a year off and go abroad after school, really find who I am and what my purpose is in the world. I can’t though. You’re in the kitchen scheduling college visits for me and planning out the rest of my academic career.

I love you, Mom, and I hope someday we can really talk. I hope someday you know my favorite movie and not my class ranking. I think you’ll know everything about me one day. Why? Because sometimes when I look over, you’re driving with the windows all the way down—just like I do.

Your daughter

My Dear Parents,
You might wonder what could go on in my life that you don’t know. Well, there are some things that I feel are better not to share, and sometimes it’s hard to tell.

I am very lucky to have parents like you who always think about me and support me to have a better future. However, you might think I am still your little baby but I am not, anymore.

Sixteen years is a lot to experience and probably the perfect time to struggle. Most of it is internal. This struggle is even more when you add the word immigrant.

It’s been a little more than three years since we moved to America but still it seems like a new place to me. Every time I get my report card, you expect me to get 4.0 in everything and so do I. But as an English language learner, it’s hard for me to get a perfect score. I try my best, but you have to understand that it’s difficult. Also, I barely get compliments from you when I do get high scores. I know you are not used to doing that, but I feel good when I hear good things from you.

Mom and dad, in case you do not realize, I miss my relatives and friends in my country. I do not let you feel it because I do not want you to feel bad for me. Leaving my grandmother, grandfather, and all of my relatives that I love was painful. But I put a fake smile on my face so that you feel happy because I know you miss them too.

In America, people are busy, and so is dad. I hope that you get a better job so that we can spend more time together. Believe me, nothing makes me happier than spending time with you. I do not want the latest phone or dress. I just want more of your time and more compliments. Being in a new place, a new culture, makes me feel like an outsider sometimes and as a result I become depressed. But I am your brave daughter and I will swim through this unknown ocean to look for an island, together with you.

Your daughter

Dear Parents,
I’m writing this but you will never receive it.

Before 6th grade, gender meant nothing to me. Going to an all-girls Catholic school, yes, I did realize I was a girl, but I never really thought too much about it. I hated the plaid skirts and the preppy uniforms, and while all the other girls painted their faces in makeup, I never found it appealing.

Whenever Lilianne wanted to hang out with guys at the mall, I always found those times the most fun. Soon, I had a lot of male friends. At the time, I didn’t realize most of them saw me romantically. I began feeling things towards Lilianne.

It was Lilianne who helped me cut my hair. I know I should have asked for your permission first but I knew you’d never let me. I cut it real short and I hate how long it’s growing. I’m going to cut it again this weekend.

Then, this year, 8th grade, my body has gotten noticeably feminine. My hips are wide and my breasts are big and I feel so uncomfortable. This letter explains why I’m getting in continuous
trouble at school for wearing sweatpants. I’m sorry but I don’t feel comfortable strutting down the halls in a knee-length skirt.

I suppose the point of me writing this is that I’m pretty sure I’m transgender. I have done research and I don’t care about what my body says about me. I don’t feel like a girl and I feel so uncomfortable, trapped in this malevolent body.

I think that tomorrow, I will come out. Not to you two, but to Lilianne and maybe a few other friends. Because I know how judgmental you guys are, I don’t tell you about my gender. Every day you refer to me as a girl, it breaks my heart.

I know there’s nothing wrong with being a girl but it’s just not what I am. There are more transgender boys like me out there in the world. I felt so alone and alienated in my thoughts but now I feel a little more accepted. I don’t think I’ll ever let you guys know about my true identity though. I think I’ll go to France one day and maybe get the surgery done and never come back.

When I finish writing this letter, I’m taking a walk. It helps me sort through my thoughts. Perhaps, I’ll write you another letter. One day I’ll find the courage to give them to you but for now, I’ll keep this one locked away in my computer.

Your Daughter

Dear Mom and Dad,
One thing you don’t know: I have kissed someone. Never mind the fact that I am forbidden to date, let alone kiss or even hold hands with anyone. Especially my best friend. Who is, in case you were wondering, not a boy. I kissed a girl, Mom and Dad. And not just once. Every. Time. We. Hung. Out. Did we go very far? No. Not too far. But in your eyes, Dad, mister I-Hate-Gays, it was way too far. But God, I loved her. My best friend.

Remember that day we were riding home from church? My best friend had stopped talking to me. I was devastated. You claimed I had it coming—“that girl” had always “seemed like trouble.” You thought I was being a little overdramatic for just losing a friend.

You watched while I cried over “that girl” and told me it was for the best. I did, after all, have plenty of other friends. But what you didn’t know was that I lost my first love that day. The only person who knew every single dirty secret I had. My first kiss. The only person whose touch made my stomach flutter and my face go hot.

You both may have said that it is impossible for teenagers to fall in love—real, serious love, not just puppy love. Why did it hurt so much then, when she cut me off? Why, a year later, do I still crave her touch and lie awake at night thinking about her?

This is how you see me: Young. True. Happy…Not true.

Your daughter

Dear Dad
There are few things I wish for more than for you to be healthy. Mom tells me you’ve never really been healthy in my lifetime, but I remember that it had been better than now. I remember that there wasn’t a person who disliked you and you were the smartest man I knew. But now your brain is deteriorating, your personality is locked away somewhere in the crevices of your mind. I just wish I knew a way to release you.

Mom sometimes tells me about how you used to be. I used to like to hear the stories but it’s too hard to hear now. I don’t like to hear about what I missed.

It’s hard, dad. It’s hard having people ask me about you. When people ask what you’re like I don’t know what to say. Do I describe the old you or do I tell them the truth and risk tears? The answer is neither; I just smile and deflect it. It’s hard to get people to understand a disease that I barely know how to describe myself.

I know you’re lonely, Dad, so am I. I miss you being my closest friend; I miss you always protecting me. I wish you’d eat. I wish you’d treat your body right. How would you feel to know that I’m waiting for a call to tell me that you’re dead? Maybe then you’d try harder. Why don’t I deserve to be walked down the aisle by my loving father like the rest?

What I want you to know is that I still love you.

Love, The Only One Who Cares

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