As parents, we learn how to do almost everything “on the fly.” Our newborns are placed in our arms with no instruction manuals. No “how to” checklists. No rules. One of the first things we learn to do with our children is communicate. We talk to our newborns in quiet, soothing voices. They don’t understand our words, but they understand our tone of voice. As toddlers, they quickly learn words like “yes”, “no”, and so on. They, in turn, learn to use those words to make “toddler” sentences instead of just crying or pointing. When school age children learn to read and write, this gives them yet another form of communicating.
How To Start A Mother-Daughter Journal
When my oldest daughter, Megan, was in the 5th grade, I realized that she and I were communicating less and less. I knew it was a normal part of the pre-teen years and that it would probably just get worse and worse as she got older. I also knew that I wanted to do something to try to alleviate that communication gap. So I did…
I bought an inexpensive “journal” for her and I to communicate things to each other. I’ve always been one who loves to write and often used that to get things off my chest. I used it in college. I used it during my divorce 18+ years ago, and I’ve continued to write a few things over the years. It’s been very therapeutic for me and I thought maybe this would help me re-open the lines of communication with my tween.
When I first gave Megan the journal, I simply placed it on her bed for her to find when she got home. I wrote on the inside cover what the journal was to be used for. I explained that the journal was just for the two of us – no one else would read it unless both of us were okay with that. We could write things in the journal that we were afraid to say to the other person or things we didn’t know how to share verbally. It could be something funny that happened during the day or words of encouragement and love. It’s not something mandatory and we do not follow a set schedule. In fact, there have been MONTHS where we didn’t write anything! When we are done writing our entry, we place it on the other person’s bed for them to find later.
It’s More Than Just A Journal
Over the past 4 years, she and I have shared some funny stories with each other. She has told me things in the journal that were hard for her to put into words face to face. The journal gave her a chance to say what she wanted to say without it coming out of her mouth in the wrong way. We’ve been able to start harder, deeper verbal conversations by writing about them first. It’s been a blessing on so many levels.
And as a mom, I love going back and reading through the entries. It’s fun to see her handwriting. To see how she used her words. To remember when those moments happened. Now that she is a full-fledged teenager, I love seeing those sweet, encouraging words we wrote to each other. Remembering how brave she was when talking about boys and pressures. I know that over the next 4 years of her high school career, she and I will have many more things to journal about. And knowing that I can look back at those when’s she’s grown and gone, gives me something to look forward to… in writing!
My youngest daughter, Emma, is 9 and I just introduced her to “our” journal. She knew about the journal I had with Megan (her sister told her), so when she came home from school and saw a journal on HER bed, she cried! She said, “Mom, I’m so happy to have this with you. I thought it was something you did with just Megan. Now, you and I can do it too!” Her reaction made me tear up! It also made me realized that this “mother-daughter” journal meant more than just communication between two people. It was allowing us to create memories!