Have you ever had a meaningful conversation with your offspring go off the rails faster than a train wreck? Witnessed your child clam up and shut down when you are all fired up to yakety yak your way through a crucial family issue? A new book called Parenting Letters might bring a new dimension of communication back into your family life. The book uses the ancient art of a well written letter to help a parent clearly communicate with their seven to 17 year old over a variety of common family issues. Without the conversation crumbling into pieces with rolling eyes, slamming doors, or worse, blank stares.
Instead of another ‘how to’ tome, this unique book, co-authored by a Durham parent, is a book of 40 original letters ready to be torn out of the book and given from parent to child. Lisa Fraser of Port Perry, and Susan Schulman of Toronto have pooled their experiences of years of parenting and letter writing to their own children into a resource for other parents.
“I’ve been writing letters to my kids before they could read,” recalls Schulman who is a psychotherapist and the parent of two grown sons. “It enabled me to put my thoughts and feelings on paper. I had difficulty finding the right time and place to have meaningful conversations with my kids,” says Schulman. “We’ve never been able to have one of those family conferences at dinner. The letters enable kids to read it at their own pace, without you even nearby.”
Lisa Fraser says that her kids know an issue is important if their mother writes a letter about it. “Kids think they know what we are going to say about something because they know us so well. With a letter they don’t tune you out after the first few words.” Fraser believes that the letters make kids more “willing to listen and negotiate. It doesn’t mean they will come to agree with me, but they can understand my viewpoint better.” The content of the letters can then be discussed at a time good for both parent and child.
Schulman and Fraser, who is a writer and publisher, crafted letters about everyday issues and happenings common to most families to include in the book. A few first lines reveal the book’s breadth: “I’d like to introduce you to a few household objects I don’t believe you’re familiar with.” (Toothpaste lid, toilet flush, lightswitch) “Didn’t I already say no? Why do you keep asking me?” (Not surprisingly, there are two of those letters in the book.) “I wish I could take your hurt away” and “I’m so sorry I yelled like that and I want to apologize.” There are letters dealing with the death of a loved one, coping with bullies, problems with homework and cheery notes affirming a parent’s love for their child.
“The underlying thread in all the letters is how much we care,” explains Fraser. “We love them to pieces. There’s nothing more important in the world than they know how much we love them.”
The book was designed with kids in mind with letters written in clear language, warm colours and fonts that resemble handwriting.
To purchase this book, click Parenting Letters
Karen Stiller is a Durham parent, a freelance writer, and the editor of Women Alive Magazine.