The Relationship Dynamics Tea with Julie series continues.
Tea with Julie

Welcome to "Tea with Julie," a weekly missive by me, Julie Bogart. My wish is to give you food for thought over a cup of tea to enhance your life as an educator, parent, and awesome adult. Glad you're here. Pinkies up!
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Cincinnati, February 27, 2021

Hi Friend,

When I first started teaching writing online, I imagined helping parents figure out how to coax delightful words out of somewhat resistant children. But what followed astonished me.

The conditions Brave Writer set up for writing fostered better relationships between parents and kids! Writing, it turns out, is the school subject where souls are exposed, where the chafing in the parent-child relationship becomes most obvious.

Somehow by helping children break through their writing blocks, parents discovered how to relate to their kids in a more compassionate way.

Kids were asked to express their thoughts forth-rightly, honestly. Parents were expected to listen.

Parents discovered that many times they not only hadn’t been listening, they hadn’t even wanted to listen. 

Tactics and Principles

If you're currently struggling with one of your kids, see if any of these might help. They work for writing and they may just work for your relationship too.

  • Touch your child
    In freewriting, I suggest rubbing your child’s shoulders before writing. This bit of affectionate contact can ease the strain of a “schoolish” demand. Throughout the day: give a hug, run your fingers through a child's hair, hold hands, wrestle, tickle, play a hand-slapping game, snuggle on the couch, or put someone in your lap.

  • Look your child in the eye
    Showing interest in your child’s thoughts is essential to good writing. Looking kids in the eye proves you care. I recommend squatting to eye level. Be sure to do make eye contact at least once a day with one child. Keep track of which children on a calendar to make sure you don't leave out the good child over the course of a week.

  • Invite truth
    If one of your kids is struggling with math, reading, writing, beating a level on a computer game, or learning to do a cartwheel, invite an honest description of the struggle. Don’t help the child get beyond it yet. Rather, ask for the truth and listen to it. Don’t fix or change it. Honor it by acknowledging the disappointment, sense of failure, hopelessness, fear, anxiety or frustration that accompanies the attempt. 

  • Get on your child’s level
    Let the child set the pace and agenda
    for writing. Sit side-by-side. In parenting, side-by-side means: getting on the floor, jumping on the trampoline, sitting next to him on the couch holding a controller, laying on her bed at nap time, sharing a stuffed armchair for reading, crawling on all fours with a baby. Reducing the size of your body to your child’s eye-level helps you see the world from their perspective.

  • Surprise your child
    Skip the hard math lesson, eat dessert first, tell a shocking story, decorate the table, sing to an old pop tune at the top of your lungs, paint the out-of-date patio furniture in six different colors. We parents love routines. Our kids love surprises. See life through your child’s eyes. Surprise catalyzes new language and the desire to communicate which in turn may translate into writing.

  • Change one thing
    What one thing would make life happier for your child today? Take it seriously and see if there is some way to accommodate it. Doesn’t like chores and is too tired to do them… you offer to do them today. Trust is built when you take a child’s needs seriously. 

Writing is built on trust. A writer wants to know that the person doing the reading of that writing is on her side, is rooting for her success, will take her ideas seriously.

Same thing for parenting.





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Julie Bogart
© 2021 Brave Writer LLC™

Brave Writer




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