Journal Your Way Through Parenting

I’m always looking for new ways to improve my parenting skills. My goal is to be more thoughtful, kinder, and forgiving. I want to be more in tune with my children and myself as I raise them. I have found that the more reflective I can be, the better I end up parenting. And that brings us to tool number three.

Write down your observations. Or, to make it sound fancier, Journal Your Way Through Parenting. I love writing and journaling because putting pen to paper helps me work things out in a way that nothing else can.

The Benefits of Journaling

Journaling is known to be a helpful because it helps us process our thoughts and emotions. Researchers tell us that writing without inhibition allows us to access our subconscious thoughts. Some of those thoughts are surprising and can be very helpful. For example, I realized through writing, that my issue with having sick children stems from my own childhood when my brother was always sick and I felt that he got all the attention. Journaling helps engage both your problem solving brain and your creative thinking brain at the same time. It’s like having two of you to solve one problem, isn’t that great?

Recipe for Tool #3

You don’t need to be a writer to use this tool and you don’t have to show anyone what you’ve written. All you need is a pen, paper, and a willingness to open up and write without judgment or censoring.

Step 1 – Just Write. Let it All Out.

Begin by simply writing about one or two encounters that you’ve had with your child that day or in the recent past. Then give yourself the freedom to write about whatever comes to your mind. There is nothing right or wrong to write. Simply begin with what’s bothering you most in your family relationships and allow the words to flow.

Writing Promotes Discovery

I have found that the process of writing without any restrictions often uncovers thoughts and emotions that I didn’t even realize I had or felt. Solutions and insights that had previously been unavailable to me also emerge when I write.

Our writing offers a mirror to show us what is happening in our lives. When we write about our interactions with our child – both good and bad – we get a bigger picture of what’s going on. After you’ve finished your writing for the day, read it and see what you discover.

Do you suddenly see that you were focusing on your child’s behavior and not the actual problem? Did you discover that your reaction was not appropriate for the situation? Can you get a better idea of what the problem was about?

If we look back and write about the events leading up to problem situations, we might discover that something else preceded the negative behaviour. Maybe you see that a temper tantrum was triggered after a missed nap. Or a weekend of late nights set your eight year old up for a meltdown over a missing shoe on Tuesday. Writing helps take us out of the here and now and forces us to reflect on what has happened in the past.

The Gifts of Writing

By writing the details of your day and journaling through the various encounters that happen, you will find unexpected thoughts that need to be processed.

One day as I was writing about one particular son, I came up with the idea to ask him to write about the problem in a letter to me.

To say it worked would be a gross understatement.

My oldest two boys now write to me when they are upset. It helps them focus on the problem and they gain access to their creative juices. The end result? They often solve their problems in the letter before I even read it.

The best part for me is that using letters avoid heated arguments. After I read their letter, we can continue discussing the issue they have written about without any emotional baggage.

Recording Memories

Another gift of writing is to have an accurate log to turn back to. If we take the time to detail our problems with a certain child, we can look back on it and see how things change over time. It also offers us the opportunity to laugh at things we used to stress over and make us realize that in hindsight, things really weren’t that bad after all. Or maybe we draw a sigh of relief when we see that a certain problem is now long gone.

Writing can and will make you a better parent. Give writing a chance to help you work through your emotions and thoughts as a parent. As you reflect, you’ll be pleasantly surprised as to how thoughtful and more in tune you become with your children.

HB

HB is a roller coaster father, one minute he is ecstatic about his children, the next he wonders if life will ever get any better. A long standing member of the 'I yell at my kids' club, he writes with passion and an analytical mind. Dissecting and separating the nuanced strategies that make a good parent great. He experiments with parenting techniques on his 3 year old so you don't have to.

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