Mother/daughter journaling is something we’ve done for a while.
On the surface it’s as simple as a shared notebook where we both write.
Sometimes serious and frequently silly our joint-journaling offers easy, silent connection.
Right now uncomfortable face-to-face talks are not something which challenge the Child and me.
At almost-12 she’s still in the ask anything/tell anything phase. She has zero fear of shocking me with her curiosities or of embarrassing herself with (finger quote) silly (unFQ) questions.
Puberty is here.
I’m all too aware the Child before me now, whom I know as well as I know myself, is changing.
Physically and emotionally.
The former I’ve got covered. The latter I hope the shared foundation built from our Mother/Daughter Journal will help us navigate.
Spelling? Grammar? Unimportant. (Correction by now 12 year old.)
I launched our writing practice before a major move when my daughter was seven.
As parent I had no idea how to handle the transition. As human I’d spent all my formative years in the same house and found myself unable to completely empathize. Creating a communal space seemed a way for us to maintain communication and serve as emotional check-in during that unpredictable time.
A fact which, when mentioned to mom-friends, elicits equal amounts shock (she still shares? what do you write about?) and curiosity (is it too late to begin? how would we start?!).
How to launch a shared journal.
Make introduction of shared writing special.
Anyone who’s spent time with children knows they react to how we respond to situations. For the most part, even though tweens may attempt to hide it, if we’re excited then they’re excited.
Journaling is special shared time together and it’s helpful to present the idea in this same fashion (perhaps a mother/daughter date?).
I definitely found making the journal concept a sacred space (from inception to execution) helped facilitate a sense of safety and connection.
Allow your daughter to choose the notebook you’ll keep your writings in. In addition, if she’s artistic or young enough to find it enjoyable, suggest you decorate the journal cover together.
The more excitement you create about the idea and the physical journal (the latter is surprisingly important) the more likely she is to take ownership and want to keep the shared writing going.
We immediately chose special journal-use-only! fine tipped Sharpies and gel pens. Keeping these writing implements sacrosanct/separate tremendously helped launch our habit. As with our Gilmore Girls viewing, when she was younger joint-journaling was initially more about ritual than words set on paper.
Initially my daughter chose for our journal to be like Fight Club (she didn’t want her father to know about our writings). Making our journal clandestine created a sense of privacy and “it’s just us girls!” which resulted in her sharing more freely.
The rest of our journal expectations, however, evolved as our shared writing gained momentum.
We decided there’s no need to only write in our notebook. Drawings conveyed feelings powerfully, too.
We learned the importance of never self-editing. We agreed any questions were allowed, but there was never “pressure” to respond.
We also have no expectations about writing frequency. The journal is a zero-pressure thing in our condo.
No matter what your duo decides (or consciously choose not to decide!) it’s important to clarify expectations early in the process.
What do we write about?
A Mother/Daughter journal can be approached any way your duo determines!
At the beginning, my daughter filled pages with questions/prompts she created (Did you ever move? Was it scary? and How do I feel about moving?) and, when we completed those, we brainstormed new ones together.
Each time we journaled she’d decide who wrote first and when we finished we’d read our responses to each other.
You might choose to let your daughter pose the questions you each answer.
You may decide to use the journal like a diary where you each share snippets of your day (a written version of hi/low).
There are no rules for either process or topic. It’s only important you decide everything as a team.
(entries can be silly like listing current fave songs.)
Our journaling is in the midst of a shift.
My daughter used to always be the one surprising me with journal & pens and asking to write. These days, more often than not, I’m the one spontaneously snagging our notebook by way of an unspoken Is there anything you want to talk about?
Instead of writing/reading together we now write and pass the notebook back and forth. I spend time with what she’s written and respond with words unspoken.
A space where she’s confident she will be heard without judgement.
To equal parts delight and dismay on my end she has a wider, more complex world and richer inner life than when she was little.
This co-writing habit will help us navigate relationship shifts as she separates from me yet still has fleeting pangs of needing her Mama.
Or so I hope, anyway.
- Have you ever participated in a shared writing journal?