My daughter used to always write me letters. It was at least a once a week occurrence. And I managed to say one thing that made her stop completely.
My letters from Juji were amazing. I would get into bed and find a balled up paper stuffed in the sheets waiting for me. I would open up my bag and find one there. She would slip them under my door at night. It was such a treat discovering these little love letters from her.
Along with the love letters there were the advice letters.
Or the empathy letters.
There were also the angry letters.
If we had a disagreement, if she has a consequence given, if she was told off because she did something wrong. Those letters were (in hindsight) funny and intelligent. In the moment tho, they were infuriating. Anytime something didn’t go her way, Inevitably I would come home that evening to a letter telling me how unfair I am and how she never gets what she wants and then listing every grievance she has had about her life since she was born. Then (and this is the kicker) telling me what I am doing wrong and what I should be doing instead as a parent.
One day we had one of these situations and I said “and Aljohara I do not want to come home and get a letter telling me off like I am the child and you are the parent. In this situation you were in the wrong, I hope you can see that and learn from it.”
And just like that, I killed the letters.
Take from that what you may. I wish I realized how important it was for her to be able to have the outlet without letting my ego get in the way. I wish I had not said it the way I did. I wish, in fact, I hadn’t said anything at all. I miss the letters…
Side note: Aljohara stopped writing these letters a couple of years ago if not more. When I read her this post to get her permission to publish it, and her ok to share the letters, initially she said no “because it sounds like I’m telling you off”. Then she laughed realising that was the point.
After she chose the letters I could share, she looked a little worried. I asked what she was worried about. She thought I would expect her to start writing the letters again.
This is the thing with teens. We have to take into account the sensitivities (and over sensitivities) they feel. I was getting her input and permission on sharing something about her and she thought I was sending her a message.At least I can be thankful that she felt comfortable to tell me that she won’t write me anymore letters regardless of the post! Teens…. But thats a whole other story.