The shared journal

Talk and talk and talk with your child….and listen even more !!

As a mom raising three daughters, I was constantly trying to find ways to keep opening doors for communication and conversation with my girls. So often in everyday busy life, the timing isn’t right or the issue is touchy or someone spills their milk - and we miss an opportunity to listen and really hear what is going on inside our child’s mind and heart. I want to share one possible small way to keep the lines of communication open.

I have always been a journal keeper, and so I decided keep a journal between each daughter and myself. I thought of it as note-writing back and forth - just in a little book. With today’s technology, the idea of note-writing is a lost art, but honestly there is a lot of appeal in a personal and intimate journal. If you have a child that enjoys drawing more than writing, use a sketch book instead and draw pictures to replace words. Better yet, use BOTH! There is no “right” way about this. Make it work for you and your child.

To start, purchase a journal/sketch book and write to your child on the first page explaining that this will be your special place to write to each other. Explain that ANYTHING is okay to write to you about: feelings, questions, fears, et cetera, and that you both can write in the book and leave it for one another. Then, tuck the journal under your child’s pillow for them to find. Younger children may come running with it wanting clarification - great! Laugh with them and whisper that it is a secret between you and them. Older children likely won’t say a word, but hopefully it initiates the idea, and you find the journal under your pillow soon with a few words or a picture.

Key: If your child leaves the book under your pillow, RESPOND - the sooner the better. Then leave the book under their pillow to find again.

Hopefully this starts the process of writing back and forth to one another about all sorts of feelings, concerns, questions and sometimes just silly fun.

Let me be honest: Sometimes, I would find the journal under my pillow three times in a day, or sometimes months would go by and I wouldn’t see it at all. Often, I initiated a conversation in the journal or asked a question and slipped it under my child’s pillow. Most often, she responded. But sometimes she didn’t. Try not to get your panties in a wad and your feelings hurt! Just move forward knowing that you reached out, and wait for another opportunity to initiate the back and forth “chatting.”

The point here is to have another form of communication that feels safe and non-threatening. Try not to have a big agenda about it. This may work for you and your child, or it may not. My encouragement is keep trying different ways to open up the doors for more talking and even more listening.