The power of a parent’s influence should never be underestimated, especially when it shapes a child in a positive way. With Pillow Thoughts: A Journal Approach of Communicating Between an Adult and a Child, middle-school math teacher Jim Landgraf offers a unique and non-intrusive way for adults to emotionally support their children on a regular basis and in writing.
The practice was born when Landgraf’s parents divorced, leaving his mom with scant time to spare while working as a night-shift nurse to support her nine children. Young Landgraf began slipping notes under her pillow for her to read when she came home; sometimes she reciprocated by placing a written response under his pillow while he was at school. The author continued the “Pillow Thoughts” method when his four grown sons were little and still uses it today. “It allows them to write freely concerning their exact feelings,” he writes, “without the awkwardness of delving into uncomfortable personal issues out loud.”
All but a handful of the book’s 237 pages are blank, leaving room for parents and children to “talk” on paper. The brief bit of prose at the beginning and end is primarily made up of a quick overview, suggestions about what to share (i.e. “Reaffirm your love to each other when you are disappointed by an action” or “Notice an act of kindness”) and the benefits of journal writing. Although Landgraf does a wonderful job of conveying his message, some might wish for more in the way of text.
Nonetheless, the book conveys an important directive: Parents, find a way to communicate with your children early on. It will not only strengthen your bond, but they will grow up to be better communicators—and pass the skill on to their own little ones.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.