Do you want insight into what your kid is thinking? Would you like a peek into their diary – Oops, I mean their hearts? My daughters and I have found a fun way to connect! They call it shared journaling. I have a pretty journal for each of my daughters that are old enough to participate. I started the first entry with an invitation to join me in this journaling adventure in which we could ask each other questions, tell each other jokes, and share hopes, dreams, and ideas. I put a bookmark in the page and laid them on each of my dolls’ pillows.
I was surprised at the enthusiasm with which my younger daughter, who does not particularly like writing, jumped into this. Her entries sometimes pain me with their poor spelling and sloppy handwriting but it gives me a gauge on where she is with her non-school writing. Harping on her spelling would be counter productive to getting her to writing out her thoughts and feelings. And hearing her thoughts is well worth overlooking the mistakes! Her journal was back on my pillow within an hour with thoughtful questions and declarations of how much I am loved. My fourteen year old was less impulsive (as usual) and included precisely one question, one joke and one hope in her entry. Your teens may ask you tough questions. Good! Better that they ask you hard questions than get half baked answers from half grown friends. We have been at this for about two months now. The exchanges have become more of a weekly thing, which is perfect for our schedules.
Kids, like adults, will often write down things that they will not voice aloud. It is healthy expression for them and insight for me. This should be voluntary and without rules. Though I have been known to put a frequent and consistently misspelled word on a spelling list. What a fun record of their childhoods for me and of mine for them, since they frequently ask me about when I was a young girl in their many questions. It has even prompted out loud discussions and stirred up memories that I would not have thought of to share. I read of a lady that shared her teen diaries with her daughters to help them understand how universal those weird thoughts and insecure feelings of pre-adolescence really are. I am trying to decide if I am brave enough to do that. Actually, I am trying to decide if I am brave enough to read them myself – and not for the naughty things I did. I was pretty much an angel. I don’t know if I can stomach the shallow silliness of being 13 again.
The question that has sparked the most discussion so far is: which were your favorite vacations and where would you want to go in the future? I was surprised how much they enjoy mountains (I am such a coastal girl) and how much they love good, old-fashioned road trips.
If you need some ideas for questions to prompt discussion there is a great list on www.journalbuddies.com. I have not had much of a chance to use this fun list because my girls ask me so many questions! I am looking forward to many more clever, questioning, goofy and thought provoking journal exchanges as my dolls grow and change.