I happened upon a method that works brilliantly to build better parent-child communication between me and my kids. This tool especially helps us talk about difficult topics they might not naturally feel comfortable discussing with me. It’s called the Mom and Me journal.
Sometimes I have been shocked by the questions they’ve asked me in the journal. Because it’s a safe place to communicate, they know we can talk about anything. And my ability to communicate with my kids has grown tremendously because of this shared journal. Here’s how you can create your own Mom and Me journal, so your kids will feel like they can talk to you about anything:
- Go to the store with your child and pick out a special journal that’s just for the two of you. If you have more than one child, you will need to choose a separate journal for each child.
- Explain how the Mom and Me journal works. Explain that they can say anything to you in the journal. Anything. When they have a question about something sexual they heard at school or they want to talk about something embarrassing or when they are angry with you, they can write to you about it in the journal. There is one rule: no talking! They need to know you won’t bring this up in conversation with them later. This allows them to feel safe, knowing that they can say anything— and there won’t be any awkward moments. Let them know you’ll always respond in the journal through writing back to them, answering their questions or letting them know that you hear them.
- Each child is different; be flexible with it. Many times my son prefers to draw pictures about how he feels instead of writing with words. Then I can write back and ask him questions about his drawing.
- The Mom and Me journal has been great for me too because it helps me not to react. For example, recently I noticed one of my daughters was exceptionally quiet around me. I got the journal out and wrote to her: “I’ve noticed you’ve been really quiet lately…” This gave her a chance to respond that I had hurt her feelings when she felt like I yelled at her. Even though I didn’t feel like I had yelled at her, she felt hurt because of my tone. A lot of times it’s not what I said but how I said it. The journal allows me to hear her concerns better, and instead of being defensive about it, I can hear her heart and apologize for what hurt her.
- Be prepared to be surprised. You will hear things from your kids that you didn’t expect. Your child might confess something they did that was wrong, or they might ask you about sexual things they heard from friends that are far beyond their years or they might tell you something you don’t want to hear. Just remember: don’t react. Reacting will shut down the open lines of communication. The journal should be a safe place for them to share anything with you.
What creative ways have you found to increase communication between you and your kids?