- Who is this journal for?
The journal is for a child and a loving adult to complete together. That loving adult could be a parent, a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a cousin, a godparent, or anyone else who has regular contact and a positive relationship with the child. These could also be mentors or other parent-like figures. What's important is that the adult is a consistent and positive figure in the life of that child.
- Why did you write this book?
Celebrating You and Me was a Christmas gift to my cousin Leslie and her daughter (our goddaughter) Alex. I kept thinking of questions I wanted Alex to ponder and the conversations I thought she and her mom would want to have to build their relationship. Once I started writing the book and shared it with a close friend and family, I was encouraged to publish it.
- Why a shared journal?
Writing is an intimate activity. The words you write are yours and it is a gift to others when you share them. Because of this, a shared journal can be the most intimate of conversations. A journal is also a snapshot in writing. You write where you are at that moment. It is an incredible opportunity for self reflection and a beautiful way to share about you.
- How did you create your questions?
The first 30 or so questions came pouring out of my head. Sometimes, I couldn't write quickly enough and had to use my digital recorder. After that, I took stock of what I had written and began organizing the questions by the themes I talk about on page 4 (relationships, learning, money, creativity and how you use your bodies). After that, I added more questions under each theme until I had enough for a year.
- Can I start the book the day I get it?
Absolutely! The journal entries are labeled, “Day 1”, “Day 2”, etc. so you can start on any day of the week, month or year you would like.
- What if I miss a day?
No lightning will strike you and no bad luck will come your way, but I do want to stress consistency. What a person values is demonstrated through his or her repeated behaviors. If you value your relationship with your child, you will look closely at the ways you consistently communicate and emotionally connect with them. If this journal becomes a part of that journey, I am honored.
- What if don't I like my child's or grandchild's response?
On page 5 of the journal I ask that you and your child sign an agreement:
- I promise to answer these questions with my heart.
- I promise to not question the other person's answers.
- I promise to ask even more questions when I have them.
- I promise to allow the other person to explore, question, and ponder different thoughts and attitudes than my own.
- I promise to always make the other person feel safe when sharing ideas, thoughts, or dreams.
If you are truly listening to your child with an open heart, you ask questions that show your interest instead of guiding your child's answers. You allow your child to explore, question, and ponder different thoughts and attitudes from that of your own and you may find that you do not like or understand all of your child's responses. If you feel the response garners attention from a professional, then please contact a professional. Otherwise, continue to get to know your child and understand what makes him or her “tick.”
- What if my child or grandchild doesn't like my response?
Remember the saying, “turnabout is fair play?” In this case, that is very true. Remind your child of the commitment you made to each other at the beginning of the journal. Also, see my response to question “What if I don't like my child's response”.
- What time of day is best to write?
That depends on your schedule and your child's schedule. Whatever you decide, try to keep that time of day sacred. Writing in the journal might be the last thing you two do before brushing teeth or turning out the light. Patterns are a sign of commitment and children attach themselves to patterns, good or bad. And remember, those patterns demonstrate what you and/or your child value.
- What if my child says, “I don't know” in response to a question?
“I don't know” is often a safety statement. It's a get-out-of-the-situation-safely statement. Make sure your child understands the prompt (some of the prompts are more advanced than others). If the child understands it but still says “I don't know,” then ask what other question he or she would like to answer. Write that question down instead and answer it. There are no rules that say you have to answer every single question in the book.
- What if I don't know the answer to a question?
I doubt this will happen. More likely, you'll have a hundred answers to the question and you won't know which one to pick. Go with the answer you can explain easily to your child. Remember, they can tell when you are lying or you are not fully committed to the process.
- Is this a secret journal between me and child / grandchild?
I would not call it a secret journal, but it is an intimate connection. If you decide that you and your partner or spouse will complete the journal with your child, then the three of you should sit down together at the very beginning and you all need to sign the contract. This is a very important step in building trust.
- Does the same adult need to fill out the journal with the child every day?
As I answered above, if you decide to have two adults involved, make sure everyone signs the contract at the beginning at the same time so there is no confusion. Both adults should then commit to filling out the journal each night.
Celebrating You and Me is being featured on the NAPPA (the National Parenting Publications Awards) site the week of December 16th! Visit their web site to see it.
Celebrating You and Me won a Bronze Medal in the category of Children's Interactive of the 2010 Independent Publisher Books Awards!
You can now Purchase Celebrating You and Me at Big Hat Books
6510 Cornell Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220