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I Read My Daughter’s Diary: How could I? How could I not?

How could I? How could I not?

By Candy Schulman |

I give my daughter a diary, and she offers to share her entries with me. The first few pages ask her to list favorite friends, books, TV shows, sports. “My best friend is Monica and I love hanging out at her house.” There are few surprises from the pen of an eight-year-old.

Suddenly, Amy says I can’t read her diary anymore. Just like that – off limits. It’s the first time she’s ever restricted me. Usually she begs me to participate in everything, from completing jigsaw puzzles to awaiting bowel movements. We share her whole life, from hot fudge sundaes on summer afternoons to tearful recounts of a schoolmate who’s hurt her feelings.

“Promise you won’t read it,” she says.

“Of course I won’t,” I tell her. “Grandma used to read my diary in high school. She punished me for things I wrote in it. How I hated that:.When you’re ready to share your diary with me again, let me know.”

Each morning Amy locks her diary with the key, which she keeps attached to the diary on a string, rather than hiding it somewhere. She leaves it around, key and all, for me to open if I wish. But I don’t. One morning Amy leaves the diary completely unlocked in the middle of the living room on a bare coffee table.

After she goes to school and before I leave for work, I stare at it longingly, unable to get used to our new forced phase of privacy, even though it is a healthy sign for my daughter’s growth. How does a mother break free from the intertwined relationship she’s had with her children since they were born? Amy still loves to sit in my lap (even when I’m not in the mood), and she’ll touch her foot to my leg under the dinner table or wind her arm around mine as I eat. My little girl yearns to gain independence, but she is still tied to me, as clearly I still am to her.

And I like it that way. Like most working mothers, I always feel conflicted that I don’t spend enough time with her, that I miss out on aspects of her everyday life.

So I sit near the diary, wondering what to do. Didn’t Freud say that people who left things out really wanted you to look? Amy will never know. I am terribly curious. I am breaking a promise if I read it, but unlike my mother, I’ll never use the information against her – only to help her. Amy is the type of child who doesn’t always reveal her feelings, and I have to pry things out of her – “What did you do in school today?” …”I forgot.” I worry that she keeps too much inside.

Breathing deeply, I open the diary quickly…almost as if it is beyond my control. CRUSHES I HAVE. She lists Alex first. I met him in preschool. He has blue eyes and blonde hair. Her next crush: Jill, Alex’s mother, who has been a big sister/aunt figure to Amy. I met Jill at school. Blonde hair and blue eyes. FIRST KISS? Whenever I see her.

How delectably innocent and naive. I smile. And with a twinge of guilt, I read on.

MY FAVORITE SUBJECTS. Math and science.

How could that be? Last week she cried, “I hate math!” and didn’t want to tackle her homework. I even talked to the teacher about her worrisome frustrations.

HABITS I WANT TO BREAK. Picking my nose and biting my fingernails. LITTLE WHITE LIES I HAVE TOLD. That I did not wash my hands with soap she asked me did you use soap and I said yes but I did not.

Not even this surprises me. I know how quickly Amy washes her hands and have always suspected she skips the soap part. I often ask if she has used soap; she always says yes. Was this small but defiant behavior satisfying to her? Did it make her feel powerful? So Amy doesn’t use soap. Now we both have our white lies: hers about hand-washing, mine about reading her diary. Yet I find myself turning the page again.

MY SECRET SUCCESS. Playing the piano with my eyes closed. MY WISHES AND DREAMS. My wish is to become a great piano player and I dream of marrying someone like my dad. MY SECRET THOUGHTS ABOUT MY MOTHER. She wants to know evything [sic].

Finally, a sting. Do I really want to know everything? Is that how she views me? (Of course it dawns on me that I am reading her diary…) Why does she want to marry someone like her father but defy me by not using soap? Why doesn’t she dream of growing up to replicate my strong points?

These worries seem foolish. I know Amy admires me, and now I feel even worse about my surreptitious prying. I shouldn’t be here. We each deserve our own space. Reluctantly, I close her diary.

Even worse, this is just the beginning. Amy’s secrets will become much grander than not using soap. Will I be able to resist temptation the next time her diary is left out? And how will I ever acclimate to the larger gulf that must come between us?

It’s both exciting and sad to watch your daughter grow up and away from you. Friends with older children tell me their kids leave and come back many times before they’re truly independent. I will have to cherish the times when Amy returns and learn to live with the moments when she is away.

In the meantime, I will try to get her to straighten her room, use soap, and put that diary of hers away in a safer place: as far from my line of sight as possible.

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About Candy Schulman

bccandyschulman

Candy Schulman

Candy Schulman's essays about her daughter and family have appeared in many publications including Parents, The New York Times, Newsweek, New York Magazine, MrBellersNeighborhood, and Salon. She is an associate professor of writing at The New School. Visit her at www.candyschulman.com.

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55 thoughts on “I Read My Daughter’s Diary: How could I? How could I not?

  1. sweet pea says:

    When I saw the title, I cringed, remembering all too well the time my mother read my diary–and how that is probably the biggest reason I am still not close to her today. I now have to wonder which is worse: that you read her diary, or that you broadcast its contents on the internet?

  2. Lee says:

    This is beautifully written. Thank you for this poignant, honest essay. You did what many parents do, and had the courage not only to say so, but to analyze your fears as well. you’ve captured the bittersweet, push-pull of parenthood.

  3. mel says:

    “Do I really want to know everything?” Yes, that’s the problem – We want to know . . . and don’t. They want us to know . . . and don’t. Can they forgive us, for our caring so much, for our caring so imperfectly?
    Thanks for this reminder, too, of how the small actions can loom large through the lives of children and parents.

  4. Lori C says:

    This was really great, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to resist reading my daughter’s diary (once she’s old enough to write one!) I guess I’ll have to have a talk with her about helping people avoid temptation.

  5. Linda M says:

    Ms. Schulman’s essay taps into a profound part of parenting. There’s plenty written about how to nurture young children. But after those tender years–when and how do you let go?

  6. KK says:

    If I’m going to trust my child not to snoop around and read my lifetime of journals, I don’t know how I could justify reading his.

  7. Gretchen Powers says:

    I think there are ways to care and be involved without doing something like this. I don’t like it. If the child was, perhaps, not close to you already or if she was exhibiting dangerous signs, then maybe, as a means to halt a crisis it would be acceptable. But this seems disrespectful. Then, to write about it?

  8. Angry Journal Writer says:

    Yeah, as someone who has kept a diary since they could write (the first one looks like the unibomber with really bad spelling was doing the writing) and if my mother ever read any of my diaries I still do this day do not know if she did. I would like to think that she didn’t. I would be HORRIFIED even at age 7 when I first started keeping one, if my mother read mine, it actually makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. And not only did you read it, but you broadcasted it. I don’t keep one as often anymore, but I will sit down and write out my feelings from time to time when I have a lot brewing inside of me, but never in my life would I share it with my mother. Sometimes not even my best friend. A diary is for the writer ONLY. It is an outlet to let the writer put down their feelings so they don’t go insane from all the emotions going around in their head. Your daughter left it out because she trusted that you wouldn’t read it. She is comfortable and secure in your relationship with each other that she had that kind of trust that “its okay if I leave it out, no one will read it because its just my mom at home”. I’m sorry but what you did infuriates me.

  9. Korinthia Klein says:

    I’m a little uncomfortable that you shared bits of your daughter’s diary with us, although I’m assuming it was edited or changed for the essay. Unless my child gave me reason to fear for her well-being (if I suspected something like drug use, etc.) I would leave her things alone. I would be unhappy if she went through my private things. I feel I owe her the same respect.

  10. Sam Collie says:

    Please tell us that you edited your daughter’s diary contents, and that you didn’t really publish it here.

  11. LK says:

    I have to agree with the previous commenters who expressed discomfort with this article – both that the author read her daughter’s private diary without her daughter’s permission, and that she then publicly shared it’s contents on the internet. I also agree that there are times when reading your child’s diary may be justified, like when there are signs that lead you to believe she may be in some sort of danger, but that those signs were most definitely not present here. This strikes me as a violation of privacy by an intrusive mother who needs to learn to deal with separating from her daughter in more healthy ways. Her heart seems to be in the right place, but actions such as this seem to me to be evidence of a maternal over-attachment that has a strong potential to seriously undermine the mother-daughter relationship as time goes by.

  12. annabellekathryn says:

    Diaries are private! Like everyone, I can’t believe you posted this online. Even if you DID edit it, then you’re putting words in your daughter’s mouth. I at least hope you give her the check you got for this essay. How will she ever trust you? When I was growing up, one of the sacrosanct rules was that my mom NEVER read my diary. She knew that I bitched about her in it, and having that freedom made me able to be angry and then move on.

    And I never read her diary, either. She passed away recently, and the first thing I did was get all of her diaries out of the house and threw them out. I wanted to read themto see her life, to see what she thought, to feel connected with her. But I didn’t. Because even though she passed away, those diaries were not meant for public consumption.

    Seriously, I hope you and your daughter can move past this, but honestly, this is one of those seminal breaches of trust that will most likely color all future interactions.

  13. Bunchland says:

    Great article.
    We thought our readers would find it interesting too.

    http://www.bunchfamily.ca/news-roundup-february-4

  14. Chan says:

    This is unacceptable, Candy. You’ve shown so little respect for your daughter, first by reading her diary against her wishes, second by publishing that you’ve read it, and third by actually publishing excerpts. Having been subjected to this disrespect by your own mother, you should know better. As a previous commenter said, one of the reasons I’m not close to my mother as an adult is that she read my diary, too. I hope your relationship is strong enough to withstand this, I really do. If I were in your shoes, I’d ask to have this article withdrawn.

  15. pam v says:

    What makes this article great is that it makes you uncomfortable, which parenting often does. I have a daughter who is now 26. When she was at summer camp and much, much younger, I read her diary and went berserk. It’s kind of like asking your kid a question; if you’re not prepared for the answer, don’t ask. I am not sorry I did it, but to this day, it still makes me very uncomfortable because I know I crossed a line. I did it that one time and never again. When I wanted to know something, I asked. And my kid always answered, even if I hated what she said.

  16. Snarky Mama says:

    My dad read my journal when I was 17. It mentioned some unsavory behavior on my part, but nothing dangerous (not drugs/alcohol, but general teenage shenanigans). My dad took offense and asked my mom if she would say something to me. My dad expected her to say something like, “Stop lying about where you are, come home on time and stop kissing random guys.” What my mom did say was, “Your dad read your journal. You need to hide it better.”

    I totally freaked out. I ended up buying a plane ticket to my grandma’s house (in Arizona–I lived on the east coast) and I basically ran away to her house. I stayed for about 10 days (missing school) and wouldn’t go back until my dad admitted what he did and apologized.

    It’s been almost 17 years since that happened. My dad and I are good friends now, but it was years before I even wanted to talk to him.

  17. JP says:

    I’m surprised at the negative reactions to this article – which is about an eight year old, remember. I struggle with worrying about sticking my nose into my teenager’s business too often, but each child must learn to keep things private as they grow. He has learned this, but he didn’t know how when he was eight. At 16, my son lets me in sometimes, and sometimes not. At eight, our kids are definitely looking for guidance, and we are just as likely to overhear them loudly whispering a “secret” because they haven’t learned how to hide. That’s the beauty of innocence. The big question is, did Ms. Schulman overreact? Did she take her child to task for anything she read in the diary, or did she herself learn from her daughter’s diary entries? “I’ll never use the information against her.” she writes. (And by the way, writers deserve praise for thinking out loud, warts and all… and there’s certainly precedent for writers’ children growing up emotionally healthy!) The reason I remember my mother reading my diary is because she then truly disrespected me by telling me why I was wrong and punished me for my thoughts – that’s harmful. Children will improve their healthy self protection, and parents will eventually let go, each at her own pace. If it’s a loving process, you end up with a child who knows you care. Isn’t that the point?

  18. C says:

    Call me terrible, but I don’t see the big deal in reading your child’s diary. As a mother, it’s your job to protect your kid by paying attention to what she’s doing, if she’s adjusting, how she’s feeling. The desire to read about your child’s thoughts is one that’s rooted in a strong desire to protect. I’m not advocating cracking down if you find out later that she’s skipping school or smoking pot, but some non-judgmental checking up? On the awfulness scale, it’s a 2, not a 10.

  19. Gwyn says:

    Like others, i found this an honest rendition of what it’s like in the parent/child dance of parents trying so hard doing a good job parenting so their kids grow up not to need them so much. The daughter lives in a house where she has been given the right to privacy, and as long as the daughter believes she has that privacy and will not have negative consequences to any of the private feelings, it doesn’t really matter if the diary is read or not read.

  20. mumus says:

    i’m not sure how i will deal with this as my child gets older and this is why:I was a teen I was a victim of sexual abuse. i wrote about the experience in my diary and, oddly, included a plea to my mother to help me if she did read my diary. sure enough my mom read the diary (i left it unlocked, stashed in a drawer) and approached me about it. it was the oddest thing. i felt my privacy had been violated and was somewhat bitter about that, but I was relieved of a much greater weight. the diary entry was later used as evidence to prosecute the perpetrator.

  21. Paige says:

    I think this is a very interesting article. Obviously, your daughter is young and what was in the diary was sweet and innocent. Unlike the other comments below, I don’t think there is anything wrong with this article. I don’t see how sharing this store is any different then the hundreds of mom bloggers out there who write about the intimate details of their childs day or rely the cute or funny conversations that they have with their child. At a certain age that becomes inappropriate (both as an article or on a blog), but I think this was a cute article that really relayed the internal struggle a mother faces watching her daughter grow up and dealing with the fact that there are parts of her life that aren’t an open book anymore. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Blue says:

    I think there’s less of an issue with reading it in the first place (although I question whether you really needed to do that) and more with putting bits of it on the Internet! We all know nothing dies on the Internet, and someday your daughter may not be thrilled about it. I’m still annoyed with my mother for the few times she interfered in things that were clearly my business (none of which was life, health, or GPA-threatening.) It will make her trust you less, not more.

  23. AW says:

    I admire the writer for being honest. An eight year old is innocent, but as our children grow so does their safety in the dangerous world we live in. We need to protect our children. Especially online, like Facebook. Parents should be reading more than their children’s diaries.

  24. Lalala says:

    My mother not only read my diary, she took it and to this day has never returned it. She tore into me regarding some of the entries and said that she would keep it so she had “evidence” of what a bad person I was.

    It’s no wonder now that we are not close and our relationship is so damaged.

    It’s a fine line between stalking your kid and keeping tabs on them while still giving them a modicum of privacy. I wouldn’t have had a problem with my mother reading my diary if she had used it to open a dialogue with me or to know what to watch out for instead of verbally abusing me and stealing from me.

  25. It is understandable says:

    I, like JP, am surprised with the extreme backlash by some commenters. This is an eight year old… Mom was privy to such deep personal thoughts as “my favorite subjects are math and science.” Sheesh. I can understand the temptation of a mom to read her child’s journal too. I hope I never succumb to it, but I understand it. To those who ran away from home, were never as close to their parents ever again, etc… because of having their journals read, I just don’t get it I guess. If that’s the case, then I figure the relationship wasn’t great to begin with. I’ve had my journal read before. I wasn’t happy, and I was embarrassed at the time, but it blew over and my relationship with the offender remains unchanged. It was a momentary temptation, a flash of weakness… I get it. This author is not a vindictive shrew, waiting to use this child’s journal contents to prove what a bad person she is. She seems to be a loving mother who fell victim to moment’s temptation, and is admitting something she’s not necessarily proud of. I think it’s honest, and I like it.

  26. Katiemama says:

    I get that she succumbed to temptation, what I think is unacceptable is that she is profiting from it. What I found most awful was her daughter’s explicit request that she not read it…and not only did she do that, she wrote about it! 8 year olds aren’t idiots, and does her daughter want the fact that she doesnt always wash her hands (if thats a true anecdote; sounds very much like the author read too much beverly cleary as a kid and is making up an adorable sounding anecdote) on the internet forever? The gleeful and profitable lack of respectbis what is most galling to me.

  27. bonnie says:

    So, not only did you read her diary, but you published excerpts from it? If and when she finds out about this I think it will damage your relationship a lot. What a terrible breach of trust and exploitation. You didn’t even manage to parlay it into a good article.

  28. JC says:

    Uh, you read the diary and then wrote about it? What about when she’s a little older and reads your column?

  29. Christina Ykema says:

    Oh boy, I know this is gonna be me one day…

  30. curiona says:

    Unethical. Period. A relationship is based on trust. And trust extends to the acts that you commit that your daughter will never know about. She’s eight years old. It’s not as if she was sixteen and you were worried that she was smoking weed or about to run away for crying out loud. You took a shortcut–the easy way inside your daughter’s head. You owe yourself, and her, more than that. What will you do when she’s older?

  31. Mrs Pink says:

    Of course you read her diary. Why wouldnt you, she is eight years old, way to young to even think about making decisions. What were you suppose to do, use it as a coaster? How do we know that this isnt a parenting lesson to all of us and her daughter isnt “in on it”? Quite frankly, I believe the daughter knows that “mom” read her diary and posted her information on the “net”, so she could “prove” to mom, that ready my diary was wrong….which is the EXACT reaction that ended up happening.

  32. Stoich91 says:

    Well, I don’t know about the article so much. All I know is an 8 year old ‘aint got much to hide and if you’re her parent and see her every day, you are either purtty blind or just plain paranoid if you have a desire to read their secret stuff. Because, as you discovered, it’s not very secret. But your writing is great! :D

  33. Anonymous says:

    This strikes me as a terrible violation with no higher parenting goal behind it. What kind of trouble can she get into if she’s eight and the parents are supervising her adequately? A real disappointment to see how the obsession with control has parents deceiving and violating the sacred trust for them with which their children are born. Really shameful.

  34. Shay Nicole says:

    Eight? EIGHT? What did you expect to find, the synopsis of a “Skins” episode? I hope you do figure out how to let go, just a little bit, or her teenage years are going to be hell for you.

  35. mhc says:

    A warning to this writer, who was stung by her daughter’s comment: I, like many little girls, took longer to appreciate the complexities of my mother than the simple adoration I felt for my father. I vividly remember being about that same age and learning that my friend’s parents were getting divorced; I turned to my diary to process my thoughts and wrote down, “if I had to choose which parents to live with, I would choose to live with my dad. I love my mom too, but I just love and like my dad more.” My first thought as soon as I put down the pen was, “What if she reads it?” and I tore out the page, knowing it would devastate her to find that written if she did see it. It was a true, private, and difficult thing that I had a right to think and feel, but I would hate to know (as other posters have commented) that my relationship with my mom in my 20s could have been permanently impacted by that one tiny sentence.

    Don’t read your daughter’s diary. Even if they’re just tiny little secrets objectively speaking, they’re big to her and consequently may feel big to you. If you can’t bear the thought of her having it and not reading it, don’t buy her another one–she’s a student, she has access to paper if she needs it.

  36. Clarabee says:

    To this day, (26 years later) I can never forget the feeling I had when I walked into my room, saw my diary and KNEW it had been read. I trusted my mom. Trusted. So I left my diary (locked) on top of my dresser. I didn’t know what to think in that moment, but I started hiding it then. It was sometime later that the “repercussions” became obvious. In my diary, I wrote how I’d kissed a (boy) friend of mine and told him I loved him. I was 16, incredibly lonely in our new home, and I’d gotten to spend time with him while visiting a friend in my old town, over 2 hours away. I wrote about Brian and our (awkward) kiss. And how I missed him and how I loved getting his letters every few weeks. A few months later, I was re-invited to my friend’s house, and when I asked my mom about going, she flipped out on me. “Do you think I’m going to let you go so you can do what you did last time? You think I don’t know about that?” She made so may assumptions from a simple diary entry, and they all reinforced her biggest, most incorrect assumption about me: That I was a bad kid. Never once did she sit down with me and get to know me. Never once did she try to learn about the person I was. A diary entry was enough for her. As if 100 words could sum up a single life.

  37. COmom says:

    I wrote one negative thing about my mother in my journal and she read it. She beat the living hell out of me the next day. I would never read my daughter’s journal. Nor would I read my husband’s journal. Everyone deserves that right to privacy.

  38. lacyjacobs says:

    Not only did this mother break her word by reading her 8 year olds diary, but she then put the contents of the diary on the internet for the world to read.
    You have got to be kidding me.
    If I were that little girl, I would have a hard time trusting my mother ever again.

  39. lacyjacobs says:

    Oh, and to all the parents that think reading your kids journal is ok, at least be honest with them about it. Don’t lie and say you respect their privacy if you really don’t.

  40. Laurie Bell says:

    Take this advices,
    http://www.psychology-advice.net/category/article/child-development
    And dont forget, happy children happy family ^^

  41. Britt says:

    like what was said, don’t use anything she writes against her. I wish my mom would have read my diary. It was hard to just put everything out on the table. It would have saved a lot of pain. she would have known how to handle things differently!!

  42. Kate says:

    Awful. Remember that the way we treat our children as they grow — from birth! — sets a template for what they understand about human relationships. Let’s think about what the author’s actions taught her daughter: the people I care about most can and will lie to me, a promise means nothing, my privacy and autonomy don’t matter, i can’t trust my mother, and so on.

    I think it’s horrifying how many commenters seem to either agree with the author or cut her some slack. All of you who feel that invading a child’s privacy, betraying her trust, and lying to her directly are somehow good parenting strategies are going to be sadly disappointed when your child grows up into an adult who will not share anything with you, or (even worse, really) an adult who accepts your immature view of healthy boundaries and will go on to do the same to her own children. Ugh.

  43. Sanriobaby says:

    It was wrong for this mom to violate her child’s privacy, especially b/c there was really NO REASON to. She is at the age where she is learning that her thoughts and feelings are private and it’s only up to her if she wants to share. Journaling is a healthy and safe way to deal with emotions. Violating her privacy without reason (other than mom’s own curiosity) will only result in creating distrust that might not have been there to start with. With that said, I think that if you suspect your child of being physically abused by a partner, participating in dangerous activities, such as drinking, drugs, or self abuse for example, then I think it’s absolutely acceptable and necessary for parents to not only read a diary, but search thier room, belongings, cell phone, and internet activities too. Doing so may save your child from years of abuse, addiction, and pain.

  44. Nessie says:

    Awful. I, like many of the other posters, had my privacy violated by my mother reading my diary. To this day, even though I would love to, I can’t keep a diary and I am paranoid about my spouse having access to my email (although there is nothing bad he would find). She passed away 8 years ago and, while helping my father sort through all our belongings when he moved from a big house to a condo, I found letters I had written to my best friends in high school. I had given them to her to post and instead she opened them, read them, and kept them. Even as a married woman in her late 20′s, I was mortified and angry. I was a good kid, but my mother was a bored housewife. Please don’t read your kid’s diary, unless you have a very, very good reason to do so (curiosity doesn’t count – I mean if you suspect they are being abused, etc.)

  45. Millicent Millie Tirk says:

    How DARE this mother read her daughter’s diary? It was WRONG. My parents did the same thing to me, and our relationship if one can call it that, has never been the same. Not that it was great to begin with, but that was a BIG nail in the coffin.

  46. Bobbi Lee Shelby says:

    I am honestly not sure what I would do. My daughter is only 5. I guess it would depend on the circumstances. If she was an open and honest child/teen with me, no I wouldn’t because then I could trust her to come to me if something was serious, but if she was the kind to hide her feelings and/or lied to me constantly, yes I would! I would to protect her! To keep her out of serious trouble/danger! My mother, as Nessie stated, went through any and everything I had (my diary, my room, my car, my letters, my emails). I was a troubled teen.. and she was doing what she had to do to protect me! While at the time, I was upset and hurt over it, her doing so, saved my life many times! When I was 13, she intervened in letters/notes my 17 yr old neighbor and I were sending back and forth.. after reading our letters, she made us move out of town. A year later, I found out he murdered my best friend, but his intent was to murder me.. since I had moved, he decided to murder her! (after he went to prison, he wrote my mother and informed her of his intentions – yes I read the letter myself).. Another time, I ran away with a friend.. was going to meet a few guys for a party – guys my friend met some where – my mother read my emails and called the police to the address we were suppose to meet them at. the police arrived 2 minutes before the guys did. They arrested all of the guys and found several items in their trunk (rope, duck tape, bats).. the police believed they had intent of raping both my friend and I. so yes, if I felt reading her diary/going through her items would help her in the long run, I would!

  47. kyara says:

    I don’t think there was anything wrong with the article. This is very insightful. The author found herself in a tough situation and made the decision she thought was best. There are always going to be tough decisions that parents have to make. I like how she stopped reading the diary and decided to help her daughter keep her personal diary away where it wont be in a compromising situation. Of course she wanted to read the diary if her daughter isn’t very open. When the author saw that the diary was still full off innocent childhood thoughts, she closed it.

    There is a big difference in using the diary against the child, and the innocent curiosity that happened here.

  48. Pauline Gaines says:

    I’m less concerned with the reading of the diary than the posting of its contents on-line.

  49. Paula says:

    I wasn’t a teenager that long ago, so I can tell you this: no matter how close a child is to his parents, he will keep from them the things he knows they don’t agree on. My mom and I have the best mother-daughter relations I’ve ever seen (everybody says we are like the Gilmore Girls), but when I dated a guy she didn’t like, and we broke up at some point, I’ve never told her we got back together as I knew she would be disappointed. Then, when I did brake up with him for good, he stalked me, threatened me and made my life miserable for a long time (what do you know, my mom was right about him…) I would have loved to share with her what I was going through, but I was too ashamed that I had lied to her, so I didn’t. Maybe if I had a diary she could have read, and then help me get rid of this guy, I wouldn’t remember some of my teenage days as being stalked by a jerk. My point is… teenage years are difficult. Children lie and sometimes can get in serious trouble (more serious than I did). If you can read a diary, just to be sure you are not missing out on crucial events in your child’s life and can prevent a tragedy, I think it is not the end of the world.
    PS: I know this girl is only 8, so I think her diary was actually cute…

  50. Delia Lloyd says:

    I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. Wait until your daughter goes online and the quandries that will await you then! I have visited this issue recently with my son (10) and while I have yet to actually thumb through his email, I do find myself glancing at his inbox whenever it’s open to scan it for inappropriate material. There is a delicate balance between respecting privacy and protecting your kids and I think the best thing you can do is to be open with them. But I think we would all face your temptations…

    Delia Lloyd
    http://www.realdelia.com

  51. Anonymous says:

    So you gave your daughter a diary so you could read it when she’s not around? That’s like tricking her into divulging her private thoughts to you. If you don’t suspect there’s a serious problem in your daughter’s life, then just control yourself and let her have a place to just be alone and vent.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Everybody has things they wouldn’t ever share with their friends, spouses, parents, or children. As a child, I kept a number of diaries. It was a comfort to know that my private thoughts didn’t have to be confined to my mind; I loved having an outlet. When I was 13 my parents read my diary. Needless to say, they used certain things I had written against me. I felt extremely violated; my thoughts were no longer mine. I stopped keeping a diary for fear my parents would read it again. I stopped trusting my parents, and stopped trusting the fact that my personal things would be private. Years later I tried keeping a diary again. It didn’t feel the same anymore. The freedom I used to have when putting my thoughts on paper just doesn’t exist anymore. If this mother has any sense, she won’t tell her daughter what she did and she won’t read her diary ever again.

  53. Emily says:

    The op-ed functions as a public confessional space, allowing the author to admit to and release her guilt of reading her daughter’s diary while trying to interpret the meaning behind her daughter’s stinging words. The work is characterized by the way it is written, attempting to imitate the flow of consciousness of the human mind. Schulman leads the reader through her entire thought process and allows us to come into contact with her inner most thoughts. She also includes many specifics such as intimate details about her relationship with her daughter Amy and direct quotes from Amy’s diary. The specifics about their relationship allows the reader to better understand Schulman’s actions and deep yearning to read the diary; the reader may in turn sympathize with Schulman’s situation and understand why she could not resist snooping. The description of their relationship may also remind readers of their own mother-daughter relationships and make them wonder how they would act in the same situation of the temptation of snooping. I myself at first thought I would never disrespect my daughter’s privacy, but I realized that I, like Schulman, would not be able to overcome my own curiosity of what my daughter was hiding from me. The direct quotes from the diary authenticate the work and also help the piece to come to life.
    The controversial subject matter of op-eds tends to ignite much commentary from readers, especially evident in the nature of online op-eds. Authors publish their blogs and op-eds because they want feedback; they want to know that their work had as effect on people. Putting a personal touch on whatever the subject matter is, such as in this case bringing in many specifics about the content of the diary and her relationship with her daughter, has a greater effect on readers, for they feel a stronger connection to the subject matter. This invasion of privacy brings up memories for many readers who have either snooped or been snooped on, which creates an urge for them to share their own experiences and opinions. Personally, I have been both the snooper and the one snooped on, and every time I have engaged in this invasive act, I have either discovered things I did not want to know or have had others read things that were not meant for their eyes. Schulman’s flow of consciousness clearly shows that her opinion on the matter changes, from deciding whether or not to look, to realizing she will never look again. I found that Schulman’s struggle of the temptation to snoop was very relatable, and the specific details of her piece helped me to develop a stronger connection and feeling towards the subject matter.

  54. Name* says:

    you admited it was wrong. thats a start. I think you should tell your daughter. it will lose her trust in you, but its trust that deserves to be lost. it will be better off this way without her finding out on her own . and she will. because not only did you read it, you put it all over the internet in you and your daughters names on it. she will find this someday. and it makes me think that you dont really think it is wrong, your just saying that to yourself. if you knew it was wrong, you wouldnt have put all her secrets online. at the very least, cencor some of the thigs you read. now anyone can read it, you put her secrets online. and thats whats gonna get to her. and then she will have trust issues and keep to herself even more. shell find her way arund online eventually, and then shell find this. tell her. delete (or at least edit) this article. putting this online could very well have just jeopardised your relstonship with your daughter. good luck.

  55. Jessie says:

    Ok, I get that you want to reflect on your experience, but did you really need to post her diary entries online for the whole world to see? That’s like a double whammy. First, you invade her privacy. Then, you made her private life public. It’s good that you know what you did was wrong, but you definitely did not need to post her entries. I would be really mad if I found this and it were my entries that my mother had posted.

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