Raymond McGrath: Connecting with your kids

connecting with your children

I have always been taught to tell the truth so here it is…

I have kids. Three of them actually – so that makes me a ‘Dad’ – (apparently).

When I was asked if I would like to write something for Kiwi Families, I was a little surprised indeed! Surely you need to actually know something about being a parent to write for a parenting community. Surely Kiwi Families parents want to know cunning techniques for raising loving, thoughtful, respectful, perfectly perfect little people that will make the world a better place. I know I do, that’s for sure!

Unfortunately – I, Raymond McGrath, haven’t the faintest idea about how to raise children.

That’s the truth.

So I thought perhaps I might just share this…

I don’t need to read a scientific study of children’s cognitive development, or to talk to a clinical paediatrician to know I need to communicate with my kids. I’m aware that whenever I take the time to talk, play and be with them, nothing but good things happen. Good feelings, good behaviour and good memories – for all of us. But finding that time is hard sometimes.

So last year, on a whim, I decided to send my eldest daughter (who was 3 at the time) a letter.

I did a drawing of a fairy over my lunch break – because that’s what she’s into – wrote a little message on it, put it in a pink envelope, stuck a stamp to it, slipped it in the post and waited to see what would happen. It took a whole week to get there…just like in the ‘olden’ days.

connecting with your children

She liked it. That made me feel good.

A week later, I sent her another one. But her younger sister – who was one and a half – got jealous. Now, in my defense, I really didn’t think that she would be old enough to even notice, but she certainly did notice. She noticed that she didn’t have a pink envelope and her sister did…

So the following week I had to send two letters. One to each of them…

connecting with your children

That is how ‘Little Letters’ began.   Two letters, each week, every week . It has become a ‘thing’ for my girls and me. A way for me to ‘talk’ to them when I’m not there. It isn’t digital and it is definitely not ‘instant’ either. But in this day and age, that’s what is cool about it, too. Tactile, handmade and real.

There isn’t much text. Usually it’s nothing more than – ‘Hope you’re having a wonderful day! See you when I get home.’   But I like to draw and they like to see the pictures – so that’s what I do.

Kids, however can be brutally honest. Sometimes they love them. Sometimes they just don’t care at all. Sometimes they try to do their own version of my drawing. Sometimes they wrap rocks up with them. But they always know this – when the envelopes arrive, the pink one is for Emma-Jane Rose, and the yellow one is for Elise Coraline…and that it is from Dad.

I am still sending these letters. Last night after a pretty tough day, my daughter and I walked past the fridge (which is where they reside for a while until new ones take their place) and she pointed at a caterpillar dancing with a little girl and casually said as if it was no big deal…

“Daddy, I love my drawings.”

Then off she went to draw on herself (and her sister) with felt pens.



Raymond McGrath

By day, Raymond McGrath is the animation director at a local studio. By night – and morning and weekend and holidays – he is a father, an author, an artist, a musician, a builder and rabble-rouser. You can see more of his work at www.theonetrickpony.net or visit his Instagram page.

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