Orangfe circle surrounds an orange icon of a journal

How Using a Sharing Journal Helped Me Connect with My Kids

By Dara Kurtz

When I was little, I kept a journal that had a key. I could lock it up and no one could read my deepest thoughts. I was especially concerned that my brother would break into my room, read my diary, and find out who I had a crush on. Through the years, I returned again and again to journal writing, and I’m so glad I did. I’ve found journal writing to be a great way for me to connect with my thoughts, gain huge insights, and have a place to be honest and share my feelings.

Starting a Mommy-Daughter Journal

Because of my own positive experience, when my two daughters were younger, I started a mommy- daughter journal for each of them. When they were younger there was a lot of bickering going on between all of us. It sometimes got in the way of us enjoying our time together. They'd get frustrated, I'd get frustrated, and we'd end up yelling at one another about something silly and insignificant.

I’ve learned that words said in the heat of the moment can’t be taken back, and can sting for a long time. The mommy-daughter journals became a way for us to share our feelings without getting angry with one another. In the journals, we could share whatever was on our minds. Also, I knew if they were reading an entry I wrote to them, I was more likely to have their full attention. I could put in writing how amazing I thought they were and boost their self-esteem.

When I first got the journals, I told them how excited I was to have a special book for each of them. The plan was for us to write to each other whenever we felt like it. It was going to be fun. I had bought two journals at T. J. Maxx that were identical except for the color. One was burgundy, the other purple.

When I told my daughters about having a sharing journal for each of them, they couldn’t wait to start. In those days they thought I was a superhero, and they pretty much went along with whatever I suggested. We would write to one another in a journal, and then put it on the recipients pillow. She would read it and respond, and so on. There weren’t any rules and we didn’t follow a schedule. It was there for us when we felt like using it.

How do I start a sharing journal?

If you feel the slightest urge to start your own variation on the mommy-daughter journal, trust your gut, go for it!

First figure out how you want to do it, either electronically or by using paper, and who you want to do this with. This kind of journal can be done with your son or daughter, spouse, parent, close friend, or anyone you want to enhance your communication with.  You can also set up a sharing journal between siblings to help them grow their relationship with one another.  It would have been a good tool to set up for my daughters a long time ago, but I never thought of it. A journal could have helped them work out some of their sister drama over the years in a healthy and constructive manner, leaving me out of it.

Then, you let the recipient know about your plan, and talk it through. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page and to buy into the process. You can buy an expensive journal or use a plain notebook. You can also set up an online document and pass this back and forth if it feels better for you both.

Lastly, you just start! Write about what you’re thinking and feeling. What do you want to say to the other person? What do you want them to know? It might feel awkward at first, but stick with it and you will find your groove. Try to write when you’re in the mood, and make it something you look forward to doing, not a chore or yet another item on your to do list.

Tips for success with your sharing journal:

  • Try to keep it fun. Take it from me, it’s really hard to write if you aren’t in the mood.
  • Allow yourself to be flexible and casual about how often you’re going to write to one another. Let whatever is going to happen, happen, organically and authentically. Without a lot of rules, you'll probably be happier with the experience.
  • If you have young children, you might consider starting a yearly journal. One good start time is at the start of each school year.  I wish I had thought of having a journal for each year, as my daughters grew! Starting a journal when your child is young gets him or her used to sharing and working out issues in a constructive manner. It also improves their writing. Such a win-win all around! Plus, you will have a beautiful way to keep memories as your child grows.

My ultimate advice is to write from your heart. If you do this, you can’t go wrong!

About the Author

DARA KURTZ, after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of forty-two, left her twenty-year career as a personal banker and financial advisor to focus on writing, speaking, and podcasting. Today her personal blog, Crazy Perfect Life, reaches over 180,000 followers.

Dara’s recent book, I am My Mother’s Daughter: Wisdom on Life, Loss, and Love, is all about the connection between mothers and daughters from one generation to the next. Dara’s goal is to use her life experiences to help people strengthen their relationships and create more happiness and joy in their everyday lives.

Receive 5 free downloadable gifts, including a Sharing Journal and a Mother Child Journal, when you order the book here