When I was 19-years-old, my grandmother stole my journal.
She read it and then shared the contents of it with my parents.
My private words were exposed, a sampling of what they found: when I lost my virginity, who I thought was hot in my classes and some creative writing pieces which weren’t based on actual reality, though I did really believe someday I would marry Brad Pitt.
I should also add that my grandmother did this the weekend my college boyfriend came home with me to meet my family.
Yeah, it was good times.
The other day my 4-year-old daughter asked me to make her a journal.
OK… so it was more like stapled pieces of paper I put together so she could draw pictures of princesses, but she called it a journal.
And it got me thinking…
If she kept a journal as a teenager, would I read it just the same way my grandmother read mine?
Right now, she’s writing about princesses — and heaven knows I have no desire to read about those any more than I have to — but what about when she starts writing about boys? Friends? Alcohol/drugs? Do I have the right to read it?
My gut as a writer says “no”. However, my role as a mother says “yes”.
I remember feeling so violated when my grandmother read my journal that I vowed to never speak to her again.
At the time, I was living on my own at college. So it was a little different.
But I’m still torn.
Is it still a violation if your child is 13 and living under your roof?
As a parent, I must protect them from as many negative influences as possible. What if reading her journal could help me do that better?
I know many of you might say that communication is the key to parenting — and you are right. However, I worry when she’ll think her friends and their choices/decisions become her main priority. How will I know if I’m seeing the entire picture of her life? What’s really happening? Or am I supposed to just take her word for it?
I want to believe that I’m not the sort of mother who would break that trust, but I’m not sure.
If I had an opportunity to get an extra glance into her life, beyond the words she shares with me, would I take it?
I’ll let you know in about 10 years.
Until then, I’ll enjoy stapling pieces of paper together to act excited about another princess book.
Danielle Herzog is married and a mother to two children. Read her every Wednesday on momaha.
* * *