Connecting With Your Teen: The Power of a Pillow Journal

478209273Dear Jill,

I’m needing wisdom in dealing with my teenage daughter. I’m going through a divorce. It saddens my heart that my soon to be ex isn’t wanting to be a dad. This is causing my daughter to struggle with her depression and the choices she’s making. This is where I’m recalling a  Hearts at Home conference where another mom shared her story about needing to reach her daughter.

I’m at a loss in how to handle being a single mom to such fragile teenager. Anything I say i push her further away from me or she just shut downs. My job is to protect her but I feel I’m failing at that, too. I’m trying to get her into counseling.  How do other moms get through this fragile stage of teenage years without having a heart attack or stroke from the added on stress?  Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

Overwhelmed Mom


Dear Overwhelmed Mom,

I HIGHLY suggest that you make counseling a priority.  I would pursue counseling for her but also family counseling for the two of you.  This is really important because it will keep the communication lines open.

Got TeensAlso, you might start a pillow journal with your daughter.  Get a journal and then write her a letter telling her how proud you are of her and how you know that this is a hard season.  Tell her a few things about how it is hard for you and how God is growing you even in the midst of it.  Ask her a few questions like “what’s been the hardest thing for you in this season?” or “If you had to describe your feelings, what are three words that could describe them?”  Tell her to just answer when she can and put the journal on your pillow.

Then put it on her pillow when she’s at school.  It may take some time for her to respond, but it’s worth a try.  When I did this with my son it took him about 3 weeks for him to reply and then we started back and forth within a few days.  I did it with another one of my kids and they never responded.   So there’s no promises, but it’s worth a try for sure!

The best part of a pillow journal is that it keeps communication lines open without having to sit face to face or feel awkward.  It’s emotionally safe for teens to write (they are used to texting!) and is a great way to bridge the sometimes challenging teen years.



Dear Jill,

I took your advice with starting a pillow journal for my daughter. Believe or or not she read what I wrote her and responded back! You helped me come up with a way that I can know communicate to my daughter in a honest, open relationship!

Cant wait to see all of my Hearts at Home mom friends in November at the North Central Hearts at Home conference!

Overwhelmed Mom Who Now Has Hope!


What about you?  Do you have any other strategies for connecting with a teen going through a hard time? 


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2 thoughts on “Connecting With Your Teen: The Power of a Pillow Journal

  1. Hello:

    I have 3 kids. An 18 year old, a 14 year old and a 9 year old, all boys. We would like to find a way to correct our son without the fight. He is my middle son, who has nothing else in mind but “League of Legends” a computer game. He does well in school, because he is smart; I see him putting no effort into any thing else but the game. Goes to church with us, twice a week and serves there with the lettering or video while the service is on. After that he just wants to be home to be in the game. Build his own computer with a help of a family friend, and birthday money. Respects the bed time that is 9pm and 9:30pm on weekends. There is no other hope in life, doesn’t really want to have friends over, because he talks to them online, while he plays with game, and tells me there is not need for them to come over. My husband and I, are very upset about this, have talk to him about it, but always ends up in a fight. Obviously wants to be left alone to his game. I should say that his computer is on my family room, where I can see and hear what he is doing. We are fairly new Christians, we accepted the Lord 4 years ago. We have gone through a lot with our older son, just to say that he is the reason that we came to the Lord. Our oldest son suffers of depression. By the grace of God, he accepted the Lord a little over a year ago, and is going to a community college, but he refuses to go to church or any thing that has to do with it. He also just wants to be on the computer, at this point has friends online only. He had a few actual friends that used to come over, but every one moved on with their lives, either to college, work or girlfriends. My son doesn’t go anywhere, just home in the basement, and goes to class the 3 days that has school. He is doing fine in school because he is also academically smart, he was in all honors classes before. My husband and I have a wonderful relationship together, we are not just husband and wife, we are best friends. Our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and our strong marriage, are very important for us not throw the towel. But I have to say that it has not been easy at all, in fact there is days that we feel the worse parents in the universe. Specially when you hear other christian parents how strict they were with their children and that they cut any bad behavior from the root… And I think how come we can’t have kids that are not defiant, that are not oppositional, that are not strong will.. Its so hard because I still have a 9 year old observing all that behavior. Right now he still wants to hang out with us and likes to play with friends, but also likes the computer. Perhaps I should mention, that 4 years ago while we were going through the most difficult issues with our oldest son, we disconnected the internet, TV and phone from our house for 4 months, hoping that it will help. Situation got more violent and stressful too. Thank you for any input, ideas and suggestions.

    • Maria, our son who is now 18, loved his video games too. He would play non-stop unless we gave him some guidance. We chose to do 1 hour on and 1 hour off. He had to set a timer before he could sit down to play. If we found him playing without a timer, he lost his privilege of playing for the rest of the day. Taking it all away will only exasperate your son. He loves this part of his life, your job is to help him find balance. I would encourage you to find a way for your family to serve together. Doing things as a family away from the computer can help show your boys that there is more to life than video games. Now our son is 18. He still likes his games and often uses them to just relax. He also has more balance in his life than when he was younger. You may find that will happen in time.