Finding a way to connect with your TOO COOL teen

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trust blog

One minute you are rocking your one year old at 3 am, counting the lost minutes of precious sleep away. Praying and begging God to teach your child to sleep, for a coffee and breakfast in bed fairy, or for anything…Really, you are too tired to even to know what to ask for but, “please, dear baby, go to sleep!”

Flash forward, here you now sit with a beautiful girl and an awkward yet handsome boy. Again, it’s 3 am. You are are still begging God to let you sleep, but this time the premise is much different. Your baby is now a teen. The questions, the worries, the news articles and the gossip. All your worst fears are now what keeps your eyes glued to the ceiling all night long. “Has she kissed a boy? Oh God, please tell me she hasn’t kissed a boy! What was I doing at that age? There is NO way she would do what I did! Is there…?” “Is he being teased? He is so quiet and gentle. God, don’t let those punk kids ruin my boy. Don’t let my kid be the kid parents worry about! I taught him to be kind, didn’t I?” “How is it 10-15 years later that I am still NOT sleeping?”

If only there was some way to get more than a shrug, a smile, an absent minded look. Something more honest than a fake Facebook or Instagram account (if not yours—theirs!) Well, there is! I’ll let you in on a little tool (or sleeping pill) that I used constantly as a high school interventionist with great success.

TRUST JOURNAL  Trust journal 1

What it is: A journal that is passed back and forth between parent and child.

What you need: A journal, a pen, an open mind

How it works: You, as the parent would start the journal sharing a personal anecdote, asking a question, telling a joke, sharing a fear, writing a quote, prayer, or any other topic that you think will start the hard and honest conversations. (Tip: depending on your child’s personality you may want to ease into more serious topics)

The RULES (written on the first page or front cover):

  1. You must respond and respond HONESTLY within 48 hours.
  2. You will NOT get in to any “trouble” for what you choose to share with me.
  3. There is NO judgement within these pages.
  4. Nothing written in this journal will EVER be discussed outside of this journal unless agreed upon within the journal.
  5. NO topic is off limits!
  6. BOTH of us will answer EVERY question asked in brutal honesty (get ready to admit that you kissed Billy Parkinson, after drinking a stolen 6-pack, on your mother’s roof , that you failed freshman biology, or that you dreamed of being a rap star.)

Why : Who doesn’t want a better relationship with their kid? Who doesn’t want to be heard, listened to and validated? You are only as sick as your secrets (that goes for both kids and adults.) Our job as parents isn’t to punish but to create great humans. Listen, listen, LISTEN, to your child (no matter the age.) Is your son failing English to impress a girl, because he feels stupid, or because he smokes pot during 5th period? What does your daughter believe about premarital sex? This journal is the place for YOUR wisdom, YOUR values, YOUR lessons, YOUR truths, but most importantly for you to be the one who has YOUR child’s ear. It’s a place to find understanding; a safe place for the loves of your life to go. Believe it or not, teens want a deep relationship with their parents too.

Benefits:

  1. Literacy skills
  2. Communication Skills
  3. Mental health
  4. Emotional health
  5. Trust
  6. Friendship
  7. Safety
  8. Deeper connection
  9. Stronger relationship

AND…

  1. SLEEP! (Throw away that Tylenol PM, mama. It has been too long. It is now time for you to go to sleep!)

Try it! Let me know how it works for you and your family. What other tips do you have to communicate with your kids? Leave a comment below!

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After growing up in this city and as a Colorado native, Crystal has a deep love for these mountains, especially 'that mountain' and cherishes our symphonic sunsets. When she is not playing in our purple mountain backyard, teaching high school, taking classes at the University of Denver or happily engaged in the daily banalities, Crystal enjoys any excuse to dress up; She likes to go to the theater, laugh at comedy clubs, and of course, she loves girls’ nights out (regardless if that is with her girlfriends or her daughters.) She listens to old school rap, 90’s music or songs a little too ‘dramatic’ while lifting weights, and country music while cooking/baking. Although the mountains are her home, she is more of a sunshine and water kind of girl; summer is her absolute favorite season. She is the single mama to her two darling daughters. The three of them spend their time engrossed in dance parties, reading one more story and they always find the time to cuddle and laugh about everything and absolutely nothing. She is excited to share glimpses of her life with you. She assures you that by no means is she perfect; she is simply a mother trying to fiercely love her children, her people and her community. Oh, and of course—GO Pioneers, Broncos, Rockies, Avalanche, Nuggets and Sky Sox!

10 COMMENTS

  1. This is great Crystal…although admittedly makes me squirm a bit. While our kids are young yet, we have two kids who enjoy writing and we’ve begun writing in a notebook back and forth. One of our sons struggles to communicate verbally what he wants/needs to sometimes…even good things…our notebook has been a sweet start to building his confidence and strengthening our relationship. I like the idea ISPs the trust journal, maybe our notebooks will morph into this someday.

  2. This is such a great idea. The girls were always so willing to talk but my son and I don’t seem to even live on the same planet. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love this! Both of my kids are writers! What a great way to build communication and writing skills. We have like books for our kids but I like this idea better! So great!!!

  4. My oldest son is 13 and when I try to talk to him he gets embarrassed and shuts down. I’m going to try this wth him. I want to know what’s going on in that teenager mind of his.

  5. I’m going give this a try with my 13 year old son. I’ve always told him he come to me about anything and he use to, but as he’s gotten older he doesn’t share as much with me. Maybe he’s to embarrassed to say it aloud maybe if he could write it down he’ll be able to communicate easier with me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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