A bit back I wanted to jot down one thing we do with our kids to communicate better with them. We got this idea from our friends Jeff and Janae who do it with their kids: Highs and Lows. How it works is when you're sitting around the dinner table, you ask everyone to share both a high and a low (a good thing and a bad thing) from the day.
You share a good thing because it's fun to hear good things, and you share a bad thing so everyone knows your human, and that you don't have a perfect life, and so that you can get support from your family. Even those who aren't the most natural sharers learn to share.
I know when we first mentioned the low part to my dad one time, he kind of balked at the idea and said we should focus on the positive. Sure, we should, but we felt it was more important to have open communication in all things.
I've seen this benefit us when my husband says something like this, "My low was that I ran into an Internet baddie" (that's what we call inappropriate pictures on line). Our kids know that it's easy to run into bad stuff like that and it's okay to tell -- if Dad tells, they can, too.
One day, our son reported that he ran into an Internet baddie. It wasn't all that bad, but we were really happy he wasn't ashamed to tell us.