Awhile back, probably on Pinterest, I saw a suggestion to have a mother/daughter notebook. The idea is, the mother and daughter share a notebook, the daughter writes in it, then the mother reads it, and replies. I mentally filed the idea away as something that might build communication.
While we don't give Christmas gifts to our children (they chose, a few years ago, to receive their gifts during Hanukkah instead of Christmas), we do still fill stockings. Stockings are easy to fill for the 4 yr old, but are more challenging for 10 yr olds. Then I remembered the notebook idea. So the "big" thing in Lexie and Ashlyn's stockings this Christmas was a small, pretty notebook, and a pen in each girl's favorite color.
In the front of each journal I wrote a note, explaining that this is a mother/daughter journal. During the day she can write anything she wants in her journal, then leave it in a designated spot at bedtime. I will collect the journal when I tell her goodnight, and respond to any questions she might have asked, then leave the journal on the bottom step for her to find in the morning.
Both girls were THRILLED with their gifts! They later told me that was the BEST GIFT they'd gotten (lest you think that's not saying much, while WE don't give them gifts for Christmas, the grandparents more than make up for that, and they also exchange gifts with each other for Christmas).
Lexie's had a rather challenging year and there have been many discussions about not speaking rudely to, or about, others. One of her first questions was "can I say WHATEVER I want in this journal? Even if it's rude?" Yes, this is a place to be completely honest! That said, when I called her on something in the journal, and she asked about it, I pointed out that it goes both ways, she can say whatever she wants, but I can also be completely honest and tell her if I don't like what I'm reading. This is what I sooo desperately want for my daughters. I want to make sure that I KNOW their hearts. If they are angry, I want to know it. As they get older, and potentially hear about things that aren't in keeping with our values, or they or their friends are doing, or considering doing, things they know we don't approve of, I want them to know they can tell me anything.
Two weeks later, they still love their notebooks. Sometimes, they write alot, sometimes a sentence or 2, sometimes nothing, and it's all good. . . We are keeping the lines of communication open and they are getting practice writing at the same time!
This post is part of Blogging Through the Alphabet.