There are so many things I have learned accidentally as a parent. I could probably write an entire book on the problems that have been solved by mere happenstance. One great example of this is keeping a journal. I never intended to journal with my children, but one afternoon I sat down to write. My little girl jumped up in the chair beside me, got out her crayons and paper, and began to draw while I worked. I loved having her there with me and she felt like she was doing something important. This became our daily habit.
Fast forward several years — and several kids — and you will find six of us gathered around a table in the afternoon writing, drawing or coloring. The ages range from three to 13, but we all enjoy the opportunity to share what is happening in our lives through journaling.
Sometimes we work together, reading before we journal, to share a similar topic. Sometimes we work independently, writing whatever is on our minds. Sometimes we just draw pictures and share a silly story. Every time I am thankful that we do this together.
Children have a way of revealing themselves through their writing.
They answer a lot of questions that I do not even have to ask. Their pictures often reveal what is in their hearts. I have found this to be true for the younger ones and the older ones! One afternoon I learned that one of my children was having some trouble with a friend through her drawing. It was a situation that she could not really put in to words, but her drawing told the story. It gave me an opportunity to talk to her about what was happening with her friend and how she could work to resolve her problem. We have talked through things, we have laughed and even cried in our time together with our journals. Oh, I hope they cherish these memories forever.
It is important to talk to our children; this is not intended to replace conversation. It is definitely an activity that has sparked more conversations and led me to a better understanding of my favorite people. Words can be difficult for children, especially the younger ones, but pictures often make sense to them. My older ones choose to keep some of their writings private and we respect their choice. It does not happen often, but when it does, I trust that the opportunity to put things on paper helps them clear their heads. I do encourage them to share it, if and when the problem they are having is resolved.
I don’t get everything right as a mom and often these afternoons do not go as planned. Occasionally they are downright awful. Most days it’s just therapeutic and relaxing. I am so thankful I stumbled upon this incredible way for my children to express themselves. They are carrying so many big feelings inside of tiny bodies and I am grateful for the opportunity to navigate the emotions of life alongside them.