01 Preserve Memories

Write Diaries for Your Children

by Kelly DuMar, M.Ed.

Preserve Memories, Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem, and Connect with Your Inner Wisdom

Have you ever longed to ask your parents, “What was I really like as a child?” Some day, your children will ask this question 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 many years to come. In Before You Forget – The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children , by Kelly DuMar, M.Ed., parents learn creative strategies for building their child’s self-esteem while connecting with their own inner wisdom through a unique writing process for parents I call “diary storytelling.”

Why Write Diaries for Your Children?

Diary storytelling is a creative way of preserving memories of our daily lives with our children while reflecting on our parenting choices, building children’s self-esteem, finding solutions to conflicts, and embracing the soul-enriching aspects of parenting.

What are Diaries for Children?

These are diaries that parents write for their children as they grow, detailing stories and experiences from their daily lives from before birth throughout their childhood years. Diaries for children blend diary writing, memoir, autobiography, and biography into a new and distinct genre with unique features. These living legacies are books of stories about children’s lives in their parent’s own words. They are saved and 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 directly to children 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 – Just as you have probably longed to ask your parents – “What was I really like as a child?” your children will some day ask this of you. When they do, you can hand them the stack of diaries you have kept in your own handwriting to answer this question in exquisite detail.
  • Diaries Let Parents Be Storytellers & Children be Stars – children learn to value themselves as heroes on their own life’s journey.
  • 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 and development and create a unique and lasting bond. How Does Diary Writing Benefit Parents?
  • Children are Teachers – Our children can 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 – gain the perspective of distance and the power of reflection when you explore the pleasures and problems of parenting through the diary door.
  • 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, wisdom, pleasure, and meaning 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 for our children offers us a unique opportunity for developing that voice in the quiet, safe space of the blank diary page. Children provide the perfect audience for these stories of everyday life in which they get to be the stars.

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 first and only “rule” about diary writing is to write the date at the top of a blank page. Writing an entry for your child can be as simple as writing down something unique and beautiful your child says in the course of 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.”

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