It takes a special dad to raise his daughters as a single parent. Take this guy, who became a pro at hair braiding for his daughter's sake -- or this dad, who lets his little girl paint his nails whenever she'd like. (Mani and pedi!)
To give props to dads like these on Father's Day, we reached out to women raised by single or divorced dads and asked them to write thank you letters. Read their incredibly touching notes below.
"Dear Dad: Thanks for giving up so much to make sure my sister and I had everything we needed. You taught us that kindness and consistency are the most important things to search for in our life partners and for that, we are forever thankful. By some miracle you raised two teenage daughters alone and you still have some hair left over! We love you and appreciate everything you’ve done for us. Always remember: I love you more!" -- Chloe Mackintosh, blogger at Boxwood Avenue
"Every year around Father's Day I reflect on how much I appreciate you, dad. It was hard sometimes being a young lady raised by a single father. But as hard as it was for me, I now know it was harder for you. Still, you maintained your patience and love even when I was a jerk. Thank you for teaching me that fixing things around the house was not man’s work, just work. Thank you for prioritizing my brother and me above all else. Thank you for the laughter, music, words and balance that filled our home. You are my parenting inspiration and the smartest person I have ever known. Most of all, thank you for your continued support and guidance. You are my shoulder, my rock and the reason I am as strong as I am. I am proud to call you dad." -- Kristine Laco, blogger at Mum Revised
"Dad, thank you for teaching me what it means to be strong; that it has little to do with muscle tone and everything to do with the ability to conquer the daily tribulations that life throws our way. Thank you for showing me that having strength means that we never stop trying, even though the struggles. You taught me how to pick myself up and move on when life kicks me in the ass. You told me that I needed to kick it back harder because the universe doesn’t throw pity parties. You helped me find new dreams when the others didn’t work out --bigger ones, even -- and taught me to never look back. Good things don’t come to those who wait, they come to those who don’t quit. Thanks for all you've taught me. I love you." -- Hannah Murphy, blogger at Scary Mommy and Naps and Nostalgia
"Thank you for always encouraging me to follow my passions and to be my best self. You died over two decades ago but your unconditional love has been a constant in my life. I remember when I told you I was getting a divorce: you never judged me -– you just listened. Your gentle reassurance gave me the confidence to speak my mind and find my voice. You believed I would bounce back and you were absolutely right!" -- Terry Gaspard, author of Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship
"For Father's Day, I'd like to celebrate the things you didn't do, dad. I was only eight and Richard was six when mom died suddenly after her brief and brutal battle with lymphoma. While many young men would've fallen apart or fallen into depression, you didn't. While some young men would've considered sending their kids to live with family or burying themselves away at work, you didn't. When my friend's moms said stuff like, 'Don't disagree with a boy or he won't like you' or 'It's important to be beautiful so you'll catch a rich man,' you didn't. When my friend's dads put down their daughters for being too fat or too skinny or too loud or too shy or too headstrong or too bossy or too boisterous, you didn't. After mom died you worked from home, making Richard and I your priority. While other parents missed their kids' games or recitals because they were too busy, you didn't. It would have been understandable to complain about all the things you sacrificed for us but you didn't. When people feel sorry for me because I grew up without a mother, they assume I missed out on a happy, healthy childhood, but I know I didn't. Because of you. For all of the things you didn't do, I thank you, dad. Happy Father's Day. I love you." -- Lisa Guerrero, journalist and author
"Dad, I'll never forget the times that we barely scraped by and you would still find some change so I could get an ice cream cone. I appreciate the moments of understanding we've had while hiking in the Sierra Nevada. Thank you for routing me toward my journey in the music industry. I know times were tough when it was just you and I, but you handled it with resilience and dignity. We didn't always have the strongest or best relationship and I still owe amends for it. I don't imagine parenting as something easy, especially as a single father, but I would say I turned out just fine. Thank you for never being afraid of letting me see you for you. The moments I watched you cry, laugh and love will always be cherished. I love you." -- Katarina Schwab, freelance writer and artist
"Dear Dad: As you once said, you had the incredible blessing and simultaneous misfortune of becoming a father and a widow within a span of three months. It wasn't until I faced my own cancer diagnosis with a 15 month old daughter in tow, that I began to fathom the impossibility of your trek into parenthood. When I ask you about this time of life, you frequently say that you were just trying your best to 'put one foot in front of the other.'
I have vivid memories of walks with you, your size 13 galoshes galumphing ahead of my scurrying trots. The repeating swish of your machete clearing our route as we made our way on countless walks through the Costa Rican cloud forest and the Vermont underbrush. 'Galumph, swish, trot-trot-trot. Galumph, swish, trot-trot-trot.' The rhythm of a womb-like heart beat to accompany our duo. Your eyes would light up on these walks -- giddy to spot a bay-headed tanager, to try and direct me to the same flitting speck before the bird disappeared from view. Life is tender and brutal, but there is courage and even solace in simply placing one foot in front of the other. Galumph, swish, trot-trot-trot. Thank you for walking me into this life." --Larissa Bates, painter
"If I were to scan my life really quickly, there’s a lot I can thank you for, dad: Helping to deliver me when I was a baby far before it was accepted for a father to even be present at his child’s birth. Walking with me on the beach. Trusting my wisdom, even though I was 20 years your junior. Teaching me to drive when there were still stick shifts and mom 'wasn’t doing it right'. Teaching my three boys to tie their shoes when my method wouldn’t do. Modeling a life without regrets. Adhering to your values and beliefs, popular or very unpopular. I'm sending you love this Father’s Day, dad, wherever you are." -- Tosha Schore, parent educator and writer
"Dear Dad: In a month, we’ll be spending 20 hours in a car together and, honestly, I’m looking forward to that as much as the trip it bookends. I can turn to a million things I am thankful for about having you as my dad, but I have a particular fondness for those hours spent traveling and driving together. There was something about the drive that made it feel safe to talk about the bigger things. It was then when I’d talk about my hopes and fears about growing up. It was then when we’d remember mom, together. It was then when I’d drop the veneer of angst and talk about my sadness. It was then when I sought advice on my friendships, my relationships, my career. We’re both quiet people who keep our cards close to our chests. But not on the road. Not when we’re winding through the trees, not when I’m tracing my finger along our route on the map, not when you’re turning down the Stones so you can listen." -- Celeste Kaufman, writer, marketer and event planner
"Thank you for teaching me the ad business from our kitchen table. As a little girl in Cleveland, I watched you skillfully sell ideas and close deals. You taught me to over-deliver, be wildly enthusiastic when selling and never to let being a woman hold me back in business. Without your devotion, I doubt I’d be successful in my own business or as confident in my role as a single mom. It was all part of my journey to have you raise me on your own and be my mentor. You helped shape my true character. I am so grateful for your neverending belief in me." -- Robin Fisher Roffer, founder and CEO of Big Fish Marketing