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"Whatever!"AN INTERACTIVE JOURNAL BETWEEN PARENT AND CHILD
By JOBINA LEHRMAN-FISHMAN
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Jobina Lehrman-Fishman
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTo The Parents
Whatever ... I bet if you've heard this retort once you've heard it a million times. I also think you would like to communicate with your children without fighting, listening to their attitudes, and/or getting so frustrated you want to just walk away.
There are other ways to work out issues, learn more about your children, and get results. The intention of this book is to make it easier for parents to communicate with their children on a healthier level. By healthier I mean less stressful, more connective. The definition of communication is "the act or process of communicating." It doesn't say anything about the need for it to be oral. We see our children having no problem talking with their friends. So why should it be a big deal for them to talk with us? My daughter and I have been using this journaling process for a while and we both have found it extremely helpful.
When communication ceases for whatever reason, this journal provides the opportunity to keep those important lines of communication open. In addition, it accomplishes this feat without getting on each others nerves.
When I am finished journaling I will either leave it on her bed or by her door. Then in turn she will do the same. The essential concept is that wherever you and your child arrange to leave the journal, respect each other's privacy. I have found that my daughter is willing to tell me more "when she is ready," and I read it when I'm ready. This gives me a built-in cooling off period if I am perturbed with what she just wrote. It also gives me a chance to reply with a little time for thinking instead of just reacting and causing more problems between us. Many of us get into trouble by letting our words thoughtlessly launch from our mouths before our brains have had the opportunity to shift into proper gear. We become prime instigators of verbal combat rather than agents of solutions and peace finding. We defend our positions and, become ambivalent or defiant towards one another's opinion or thoughts (I like to refer to this as the "shut-down syndrome.)
Communication does not have to start and end with this journal. If you meet on their playing field, where your child feels the most comfortable, there is a greater chance that he/she will respond and open up more easily. If your child is always on the computer, emailing or "Instant Messaging" works just as well.
Besides agreeing on the place to leave the journal, you and your child might want to set a time span with respect to how much time the journal can be kept before passing it on. This not only allows time to digest the comments and develop a response, but also lets the other person knows you have not forgotten.
I find the only way I can communicate with my son at times, without dealing with his defiant attitude, is texting on our cell phones. He says that I text more concisely than I speak. Occasionally, I still get his attitude, but I do not have to "hear it" and he still reads and responds to what I am saying. The point here is that not only is he more receptive but I am less frustrated and irritated. No one feels that there is a fight so no one wins or loses. We ultimately arrive at a solution and listen to each other without our stress level rising (most of the time.)
This journal is not just for mothers and their daughters and sons. At times my husband's nonverbal cues got in the way of the communication between our daughter and him. As a result, no matter what he was trying to say, it was not heard. The response was defensive in nature and not productive. In the end both left frustrated, angered, and the original attempted conversation was lost.
Chapter Two12 Jewels of Journaling to Keep in Mind
Frame your thoughts – let your written thought reflect your true feelings Don't be critical of what they say or the way they are expressing it Be honest but understand who you are talking to Read everything your child writes Always respond to his/her message before you add any comments or questions Remember you were your child's age once! Read what he/she is trying to say not the way it is said If you get angry with what your son or daughter says, repeat it back to her or him to make sure you understood the message correctly Don't assume that your child knows what you're trying to say Acknowledge her or his feelings – your child has the right to them even though you might not agree Use humor, as my sister says, "Not everything has to be a four alarm fire." Remember – once it is out of your mouth you have to own up to· it!
Each time you use this journal with your son/daughter, you are teaching/training yourself to analyze and manage your thoughts in a more effective way. Always keep in mind that your goal is to create an atmosphere of peaceful, open communication. You will also teach your child how to communicate his or her thoughts and needs more effectively.
Chapter ThreeSome Constructive Ideas from My Daughter
Don't over analyze everything your child says Don't use his/her words against him/her Don't constantly repeat yourself Keep what's in the book in the book, unless he/she wants to discuss it out loud Don't use the book as a chore list Don't nag for the book If I haven't responded within a week-remind me with a gentle· reminder on my door
Chapter FourEspecially for the Kids/Teenagers (from Elycia):
"Whatever!" Honestly, how many times have you found yourself saying this after constant arguments with your parents, in the hope that they leave you alone? Now think of how many times that just made the argument worse, ending with them saying, "Not whatever, listen to me!" Getting frustrated and slamming the door to your room or blasting your music to tune out the yelling just ends up making the argument bigger.
Next, think of all the fights that have broken out because of their constant nagging about where you are every little second of the day, who you are going with, and what exactly will you be doing. Parents tend to think that no matter what your response is during an argument "you are giving attitude." How would you like to find a way to argue with your parent without ever hearing "stop 'giving attitude'", or "are you listening to a word that I'm saying?
This journal will help you do that. All you have to do is to be able to communicate through writing. You can start with a simple little conversation about your day. Then, maybe, if you get into an argument you can tell your parents what you are feeling, what happened, or what they did to upset you. I have found that the most important thing to do when talking with your parents is to try to listen and not yell or curse ... this just makes it worse. I am not making up any of this stuff either, believe me, family shows are NO example of the way I live. My mom and I use the journal and it has made EVERYTHING a lot easier. We can communicate without actually speaking and giving details of where I am going is not a problem anymore. Plus she gets excited when I clue her in on what's going on in my life ... which makes her trust me more and gives me a little more freedom.
I am not saying this journal will solve every little thing and it definitely will not make everything perfect, but trust me it helps a lot. When my mom is done with writing she leaves the journal on my pillow and when I finish I do the same. It is even kind of fun leaving little drawings on the pages and having personal jokes, which only we know about. Try it, it's a lot better then yelling and getting nowhere. Who knows you might even enjoy talking to your parents one day.
Start here. Start with "Whatever!" and see where it will go.
Chapter FiveA Note from a Parent to a Teenager
Please help your parents talk to you. If you are honest and open with your parents it will make for easier communication. Both you and your parents can set the format for this interactive journal. They will probably make mistakes just like you will, do not shut down when they do. Express yourself! Do not tune them out or write things you know they want to hear. When you are angry, try not to use profanity, but write exactly what's on your mind. Do not use what they say against them or as an excuse for being able to do the wrong thing. Just because they have shared their mistakes it does not give you permission to do what's wrong. They are sharing them with you so you do not do the same mistakes. When my son is angry and we are texting each other he will use capitals instead of profanity (most of the time. Yes, he slips and I remind him, nicely, that language will not help our communication. Yes, I also slip and he reminds me.)
Nothing can be changed overnight. Allow time and a lot of writing to work. Do not expect your parents to write the way you do or the way you want them to. If you want them to accept you—do not be critical of them.
Excerpted from "Whatever!" by JOBINA LEHRMAN-FISHMAN Copyright © 2011 by Jobina Lehrman-Fishman. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsTo The Parents....................1
12 Jewels of Journaling to Keep in Mind....................3
Some Constructive Ideas from My Daughter....................5
Especially for the Kids/Teenagers (from Elycia):....................6
A Note from a Parent to a Teenager....................8
Sentence and Idea Starters for the Parent and Teenager....................9
Okay, how about some ideas to talk about or questions to ask....................10
Final thoughts ....................11