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 10 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 coming.
I’m all too aware the Child I see 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 10 year old child.)
I launched our dual 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 spend 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.
She’s older now, life is more staid, yet we’ve still chosen to maintain our writing habit.
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 share writing idea 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 between us.
Allow your daughter to choose the notebook 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 sacred/separate tremendously helped launch our habit. As with our Gilmore Girls viewing, when my daughter was younger (foundation laying alert!) joint-journaling was more about the ritual than the 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 “secret” created prevailing 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 house.
No matter what you and your daughter decide (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).
You could decide the shared writing serves as a space for her to journal thoughts/concerns and where you respond with encouragement, normalization and reminders of unconditional love.
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.
Our practice launched as a place for her to learn about our similarities & differences (Who was your BFF in 2nd grade?) and has evolved to a safe-space for her feelings.
A place she’s confident she will be heard without having to say a word.
My daughter has a wider, more complex world and a more rich 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 pangs of needing her Mama.
Or so I hope, anyway.
- Have you ever participated in a shared writing journal?
Bea saysOctober 10, 2016 at 4:44 am
My daughters only seven, but I like what you said about drawing and not only writing.
Motherhood is hard!
Sarah saysOctober 10, 2016 at 4:47 am
So I love love love this idea! I only have the twin boys but I am thinking this might be good for us all! What a great way to have dinner time talk without the dinner time formality? And without the awkwardness that comes iwth talking face to face as a kid to a parent :
Allie saysOctober 10, 2016 at 5:16 am
We did this with the boys on our trips and it was fantastic! The journaling of their experiences in places like Italy and Portugal will be such an amazing thing for them to look back on…I hope. My one son actually keeps his Italy journal in his school backpack and occasionally still writes memories in it. LOVE!!!
Angela @ happy fit mama saysOctober 10, 2016 at 5:20 am
Oh I love this idea! My daughter is 6 and loves her writing journal at school. I bet she would love to do this. Going to try it out. Thanks Carla!
Susie @ SuzLyfe saysOctober 10, 2016 at 5:34 am
I think that this would be a great idea for any relationship! I kind of want to do it with Alex…
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysOctober 10, 2016 at 6:23 am
What a fun idea! I don’t know if this would have worked with my boys, but I sure like it!
Lucie saysOctober 10, 2016 at 6:55 am
What a great idea Carla! It’s so important to get our kids to write at a young age and journaling is perfect. We’ve been doing reading since our son was in our belly and he loves books. I hope that he’ll love writing too!
messymimi saysOctober 10, 2016 at 7:50 am
Such a fabulous idea! Now i wonder if it could work with adult children as a way to reconnect.
Michelle saysOctober 10, 2016 at 8:17 am
What a gorgeous thing to do with your daughter. I love this.
Haralee saysOctober 10, 2016 at 8:43 am
This is a great idea. I really like pictures and writing and lists are all part of it. I really, really like this idea!
Leanne saysOctober 10, 2016 at 8:56 am
I’ve missed my opportunity to do this (my daughter is way too old – and married!) but I think it’s a lovely way to stay connected and to have a connection that allows for more open communication. Good on you both for being so willing to share your thoughts with each other.
Roxanne Jones saysOctober 10, 2016 at 9:47 am
Love this, Carla! Why my mom was alive, I tried to get her to write in a journal-type book called “The Story of a Lifetime.” It was a hard-bound book with a series of questions and prompts for sharing memories and feelings about life events. Unfortunately, she wasn’t willing to commit anything to paper; I think some of her memories were just too painful or hard to admit “out loud.” I don’t have kids, but if I did, I’d be all over your idea!
Christine @ Love, Life, Surf saysOctober 10, 2016 at 9:49 am
I love this idea so much and what a special, sacred place you’ve created with your daughter. I think my son would love something like this too.
Pamela Lutrell saysOctober 10, 2016 at 10:28 am
What an amazing idea! I love this Carla. My new granddaughter was just born and I am going to share this post with my DIL. Thanks so much
Glenda saysOctober 10, 2016 at 10:31 am
…And the Mother of the Year Award goes to…Carla!!!! You rock Carla, and I mean this sincerely. Such a wonderful way to share thoughts and to allow a stream of openness between you and your child. I have bitter-sweet memories of sharing my journal writings with my Mom when she was passing away from cancer. I would lay in her bed and read my entries about boys and high school life. She would shake her head and sometimes burst into a laugh. I don’t know why I felt the need to read my journal to her doing this time, but I’m always of the mindset that everything has a reason.
Jody - Fit at 58 saysOctober 10, 2016 at 2:45 pm
Such a beautiful & wonderful thing Carla!
Thea @ It's Me Vs. Me saysOctober 10, 2016 at 4:48 pm
I bought a mother/daughter journal and it has made such a huge difference in how we communicate. When we fight with each other, I know I will find the journal on my bedside table within the day. It’s a way for her to feel safe in letting me know how she really feels about things.
I also do something similar with Jacob, although it’s not the formal journal. I may just buy one for him and me, too.
cheryl saysOctober 11, 2016 at 8:57 am
My daughter has always written in a journal (they started in school in kindergarten and it has lasted since then)-and I have always provided them for her growing up. But they are hers and were never shared. And I refrained from reading them as I know I had to hide mine from my mom as she read it- instead of asking me what was going on in my life. I am currently at an “incommunicado” state w/daughter by her choice- and it’s hard to sit back and wait, but I know (like with the journal) if I push anything, it will only drive her further away and increase the silence.
Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner saysOctober 11, 2016 at 10:23 am
I absolutely love this idea! I wish I had done this when my daughter was younger. What a great way to connect and understand each other at a difficult time for both of you
Cassandra @ Powered By BLING saysOctober 11, 2016 at 11:43 am
Carla, I love this idea! My daughter and I are both journal writers. We have shared that loved since she began writing. Now 10, I think she has more journals than me. Like you two, we love to have mommy/daughter talks especially snuggling together during thunderstorms. I almost can’t wait until she gets home from school today to share this idea with her. I think she will love the idea of us writing with and to each other!
Liz Dugan saysOctober 14, 2016 at 9:20 am
I’m so glad you shared this- thank you!! I think this would be perfect for my daughter…we’re coming up on 7 in a few months. What a great non-threatening way to discuss tricky topics and connect!
Jennifer @SimplePureWhole Wellness saysOctober 18, 2016 at 1:58 pm
This is such a special and lovely idea! Thank you for sharing a great way to connect and reflect.
Simple Pure Whole Wellness
Ask Helen saysOctober 19, 2016 at 11:16 pm
Awww. This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing this, Carla. It makes me so excited to do this with my daughter 🙂