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Why you don't have to be dead for your journal to help your children
Do you have to be dead for your journal to help someone? Read how a mother used a journal entry penned 18 years earlier to help her teenage daughter. - photo by Darla Trendler
When I write in my journal I often imagine my writings being cracked open 150 years from now and offering life-changing inspiration to a member of my posterity long after I am dead and gone. However, Ive learned that you dont have to be dead for the writings in your journal to be useful to others now.

One Friday afternoon my 16-year-old daughter sent me a text during school telling me she got a 73% on a test. She had taken notes, studied, knew the material and was so discouraged by this score. I responded back with a pep talk that included advice to talk to her teacher for ideas to study better. I also reminded her there was plenty of time to get her grade back up. I expressed as much confidence in her as I could using emojis in a text message.

I wasnt sure if my pep talk worked. I thought about what she was experiencing and immediately remembered a similar experience I had my first semester at a major university. I was a 24-year-old community college transfer student who had not been in school for more than 3 years, and calculus was killing me.

I had the thought to read what I wrote in my journal about my experience in the calculus class years ago.

I pulled out the journal I wrote in during my college years and found what I was looking for. I had written about the struggles, how I dealt with them and how everything turned out. When I finished reading the entries that covered my ups and downs with calculus, I immediately knew my daughter needed to read my journal.

Luckily, the journal pages were in a three-ring binder. I took the pages out and wrote my daughter a note. I told her I understood what she was going through and asked her to read about my experience.

As a parent, I have often told my children, I know how you feel. I think this approach is effective in some situations, but in this instance, the impact of sharing an experience was so much more meaningful because she could actually read the thoughts, feelings and struggles I wrote in the moment.

My daughter came to me later and expressed how the journal entry had helped her. I had the perfect opportunity to talk to her about her current situation while she asked me to expound on how I had handled my situation.

I still pen journal entries and daydream about inspiring future generations, but I also know I dont have to be dead for my journal to help my children now.
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