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Updated: April 29, 2004

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Journal Writing

Write Diaries for Your Children - Preserve Memories, Build Your Child's Self-Esteem, and Connect with Your Inner Wisdom
By Kelly DuMar, M.Ed.
(posted with permission of author)

Have you ever longed to ask your parents, "What was I really like as a child?" Some day, your children will ask this of you. If you write diaries for your children as they grow, you will be preserving memories and saving your child's unique stories to treasure for years to come. "Diary storytelling" builds our children's self-esteem while connecting us with our inner wisdom, allowing us to embrace the soul-enriching aspects of parenting.

By writing diaries for our children we show them we value writing so much that we do it for fun, and we value them so much we devote precious time to writing down their stories.

What are Diaries for Children?

These diaries tell the story of daily life with your children from before birth throughout their childhood years. Diaries for children
blend diary writing, memoir, biography, and storytelling. These living legacies are passed on to children when they leave home to keep as a treasured record of their childhood years.

Unlike personal diaries or journals in which your audience is yourself, diaries for children are written as if writing letters to their future selves. Your audience is your present child, your growing child, and your grown child all at the same time.

How Does Diary Writing Benefit Children?

  • Diaries Preserve a Life History - Children trust you to remember, but like all parents, you will be amazed by how much you forget! Diaries keep children connected to the child they once were.
  • Diaries Are Gifts that Keep on Giving - These diaries may be read and reread throughout the years just as classic childhood storybooks are mined again and again for meaning and pleasure.
  • Diaries Build Self-Esteem - diary writing allows parents to put the focus on each child's unique gifts, creating a unique and lasting bond.

How Does Diary Writing Benefit Parents?

  • Children are Teachers - Our children teach us everything we need to know to parent them well, if we are willing to watch, listen, and learn. They speak in metaphor, poetry, and story, always inviting us to see both the world we live in and our role as parent through their eyes.
  • Diary Writing Opens the Door to Inner Wisdom - Reflecting on our actions and our child's unique feelings and needs develops intuition and inspires wise choices.
  • Lets You Slow Down and Savor the Moments - It's easy to take the days for granted, letting childhood fly by without fully appreciating the beauty, pleasure, and deeper themes of daily life. Diary writing offers us the gift of conscious awareness and appreciation of the moment.

Do You Need to be an Experienced Writer or Storyteller to Begin? No!

We all have a voice that rises up from our hearts through our throats and says, "Let me tell you a story. . ." Diary writing offers us a unique opportunity for developing that voice in the safe space of the blank diary page.

What Kinds of Stories Can Parents Write Through the Diary Door?

  • Birth Stories
  • Milestone, Achievement, and Rite of Passage Stories
  • The Poetry of Everyday Life
  • Mischief and Adventure Stories
  • Conflict as Quest Stories
  • Family History Stories
  • Stories of Reconciliation and Amends
  • Car Quotes
  • And many more

When Do You Begin?

If you are an expectant or new parent, buy a blank book and begin writing today - before your forget. If you are an experienced parent, it's never too late to begin. You don't have to fill in for lost time, just begin writing to your child today - she/he will appreciate the stories you save whenever you start.

What Does a Diary Entry Look Like?

The only "rule" about diary writing is to write the date at the top of the page. Writing an entry for can be as simple as describing something unique your child says during the most ordinary day. Your children will love reading quotes of the imaginative and ingenious things they said when they were younger. Here's an example from one of my own diary entries for my daughter:

To Perrin (age 2 ½), November 6, 1994

. . . A week or so ago, in the early morning, just after taking Landon to school, we were walking up to the house from the car when you saw the bit of moon over the house. You said: "When Daddy gets home he'll get it for me, and I'll hold it in my hands and I won't break it."


Kelly DuMar, M.Ed., author of the award-winning Before You Forget - The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children (Red Pail Press, Inc., 2001) has been keeping diaries for her three children for fifteen years. She has been facilitating Diary Door Workshops for almost 20 years. E-mail Kelly at , or

To learn more about diary writing for your children go to, The Diary Storytelling Workshop for Parents, where you will find writing prompts for the stage of parenting you're in, from expectant parents, to new and adoptive parents, to experienced parents and parents of teens, to grandparents - all of which are updated monthly. You will also be able to read a monthly diary entry submission from a parent in the Diary Storytelling Gallery to offer you inspiration.

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