Journal Expedition

Getting ready to repeat some of the same conversations with your adult children this holiday season? Why not try this Journaling Expedition instead, on Developing a “TLC” Dialogue.

This exercise challenges you to examine some of the issues you’ve considered raising with your adult offspring and to practice sharing them using Tender Loving Communication.

Note: the exercise can be adapted for dialogues between grandparents and (older) grandchildren; between in-laws, spouses, siblings, etc.

To get you started, here is a sample issue, presented in:

  • A “Bite-Your-Tongue” version, which demonstrates how we sound when we speak carelessly, without TLC, i.e., making statements that could easily wound feelings and spark conflict.
  • A “TLC” version that conveys the emotional truth of what’s on our minds and speaks to other’s hearts.

And, finally:

  • A potential “TLC Response” –an illustration of the type of dialogue we open the door to when we address our loved ones with TLC.


“Don’t think I didn’t see you and Cheryl rolling your eyes last week when that TV show came on about teen drug use, and I started talking about it with Jayden! You treat him like a baby! Well, guess what: kids that age aren’t babies anymore! Why do I have to pussyfoot around everything? Every time I open my mouth, you guys make a face!”

“Now that Jayden’s almost in middle school, I wonder whether you have strong feelings about what role you hope I will play in his life. Like, are there things I did or said while you were growing up that you are eager for me to share or do with him? Or the opposite: are there ways I interacted with you that you prefer I do not repeat?

“Glad you brought that up, Dad. In fact, Jayden’s been having some difficulties lately with the concept of God, and I think that being able to open up to you about religion would be helpful to him. Also, I’m going to ask you, please, not to mention that DUI arrest I had during college. I haven’t figured out when or how – or if – to tell him, and maybe you and I can discuss that. But I do know I want the story to come from me, not from you.”


What questions or topics do you want to raise with your adult children? How can you reframe your concern or interest from the positive—looking to a vision of how you would like to see it, rather than a criticism of the current or past situation?

Grab some paper and craft some of your own, to practice for talking, or to send as an email or ‘leave’ behind, with space for your family member to respond.