How to use journaling to talk with your tween girl

How to use journaling to talk with your tween girl

‘Doing these journals with my family has been amazing…When I look back on our journals, I don’t see just words on paper. I see a keepsake of my life, right before my eyes.’ ~ Kaya, age 12

:: Guest Post by Kaya Simcoe ::

If you were to walk into my turquoise painted room, past the colorful, handmade signs and art and to my desk where my fish companion, Yogi, spends his life, you may notice that my drawer doesn’t fully shut. Well, that is because it’s filled to the brim with journals.

I love journaling, and have tried many different kinds. Songwriting. Diary. Daily planner. Many of my journals are just full of doodles, short diary entires, stories, and poems.

Among my favorite journals are the journals I share with my family.

Starting a Mother-Daughter Journal

In October of 2016 my mom and I went to a mother-daughter workshop that our friend led. She showed us this journal, called Just Between Us. She explained that it was a collaborative journal: the daughter writes in one page and the mom fills out the next. Among the questions were pages of free, blank space.

We kept that in the back of our minds as the month ended, and right before Thanksgiving my mom bought it. We were excited to embark on a journaling journey, together.

I had just recently finished an online journaling class, which may have been my favorite class I have ever taken. A journaling habit had been established for me, and a mother-daughter journal seemed like the perfect way to continue it.

The journal arrived a few days later. I excitedly took it into my room, sat at my desk, and began to read. I was delighted at the balance of questions and free space. I could imagine myself filling in each question and reading my mom’s answers too.

I filled out the first few pages, then put it on her night table. (Before we began the journal we had agreed that when we were finished with the page that’s where we would put it.)

I was so excited to read my mom’s response a few days later. How cool is that?! That was eight months ago. Now, that one has filled up and we have started a new one. Still, our journaling continues.

When we first got the journal, I figured I would learn lots of new things about my mom when I read her question answers. But, now I realize that I already knew a lot of them: I am very close with her and love to ask questions.

The part that did surprise me though, was what we wrote in the blank space. We write a lot alike, and I felt a sense of freedom in that free space. One time I had written something and after I gave it to my mom, I told her that I wasn’t sure it sounded exactly like what I meant. She assured me that whatever I wrote was fine.

I realized that journaling is a guilt free zone, and I could write whatever I needed to write and get a beautiful response.

Father-Daughter and Sibling Journals

After we had been journaling for several months, I began to think about how I would love to do one with the rest of my family, too. (The rest of my family includes my mom, dad, and little sister.) I had recently figured out how to make journals by folding paper, tying knots and decorating it, so I made one for my sister and I first. I decorated the front with some fun fonts, and included drawing and writing  pages inside.

Before that was done, I realized that Father’s Day was coming up and what a great present for my dad a personalized journal would be. I made one for the two of us, and by Father’s Day I had three journals going.

Now I have a journal with everyone in my family. (Except for the ones with four legs or fins. As they don’t have opposable thumbs, them journaling would be next to impossible.) And I love it.

Benefits of Family Journaling

I felt surprised with how all of the journals took life. With my mom, I loved reading all of the thoughtful, beautiful things she had to say. They are the kind of things I like to read, cozied up in my bed with the dogs. With my dad, I felt like I saw a whole new side of him. I absolutely love reading memories from his childhood, and hearing the loving things he has to say to me. And with my little sister, I just love the joy I see from her every time I write in it. Recently we had a sleepover in my bedroom, and when we woke up I wrote in the journal and gave it to her. She wrote back, right then and there on my bed. I love seeing what she has to say or draw, and every time I can’t wait to read it.

In the end, journaling isn’t about what you write. It’s about what you feel writing it.

Doing these journals with my family has been amazing.

Like I have seen the many sides of them through writing, I bet they have in me, too. I’m so glad my mom and I went to that workshop, and decided to buy the journal. If we hadn’t, I don’t think our relationship would have suffered at all. But the journal added even more strength to it, and I felt so much love.

Thank you to my family, for journaling with me. When I look back on our journals, I don’t see just words on paper. I see a keepsake of my life, right before my eyes.

Resources to get you started

Tips for getting started journaling with your family

1. Before you start a journal with someone in your family, agree where you want the other to put it. For example, you can use nightstands, desks, or something like that.

2. Before you start a journal, agree with your family member that it is completely private. Some families like to talk about their journals around others and some don’t, so be sure to be clear about that.

3. Remember that a journal is a guilt free zone. Write whatever you’d like, and always keep in mind that the reason you are journaling with your family is because you love them. The reason you are writing something to them is because you trust them. And they feel the same way about you, too!

How to make your own journal instructions


I just invented how to fold the journals! It’s so simple. Just take as many sheets of paper as you want in half of your journal, then fold it. Where it creases in the middle paper staple it at the top and bottom, or take a one hole puncher on the top and bottom and use yarn to tie it. That’s it!



Journal Links

Here are the links to the mother-daughter journals Kaya mentioned in her post. (affiliate links)


Just Between Us: Mother & Daughter: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal, Meredith & Sophie Jacobs




Like Mother, Like Daughter (A Discovery Journal for the Two of Us), Paula Spencer Scott & Page Spencer

I recommend the above journals too. They’re a good mother-daughter project to do over time to increase your bond and get to know all kinds of things about each other.

I created a printable Mother-Daughter Journal that’s intended to use on a weekly basis to keep the lines of communication open throughout the week. It also includes a bonus Conflict Resolution Worksheet.

You can check it out here: Printable Weekly Mother-Daughter Journal 

Want to help your daughter get started journaling in an easy, accessible way?

I created these journal prompts to help you do that!

Enter your info below and I’ll send it to your inbox!

About the Author

Hi! My name is Kaya Simcoe, and I am 12 years old. I love writing, art, music, reading, yoga, and interior design. If you want to read my other writing, you can find me in the July issue of Highlights Magazine, and in a yet-to-be-determined issue of Stone Soup Magazine.


5 Responses to How to use journaling to talk with your tween girl

  1. That was a very delightful read, Kaya. I am so proud of you! I, too, loved doing journals before. It’s great to know that aside from your funny dad, Kuya (means older brother) Jamie, there’s another one in the family who loves to write about sensible and very cute stuff–YOU.

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