When I Grow Up

Journaling Together: A Simple, Yet Novel Mother-Daughter Bonding Experience

A little backstory – Sometimes we see a Facebook post that speaks to us. It may be the topic, the writing style or a combination of both. This may lead to following (or “liking”) said person so that we continue to see more of their posts. Several years ago, I discovered the blog and Facebook page “Playdates on Friday, by Whitney Fleming.” I liked the author’s approachable style and topics. Some time after, we both landed in the same online writers group. Shortly after that, we met in person at a writers’ retreat where I learned that Whitney is the real deal. We became friends.

When your friend writes and publishes a book, you read it. When I heard about Whitney’s first book, Gratitude Journal for Teen Girls and Moms: Shared Prompts for Connection and Joy, I thought it was a sweet idea, even if it wasn’t the sort of book I usually buy. I’m also not the target audience (or so I thought). My kids are grown but this book sounded like something my sister and teen niece might enjoy.

Not only am I “beyond” the target audience, I am not a consistent journal writer. I’ve used a journal on occasion – I kept a diary fairly regularly as a teen, but as a rule, I don’t make it a habit. I’ll also add that I am generally resistant to journal prompts. But every book has its audience, and it’s not always me. I knew I could look at this book and give an honest review.

To my surprise, I LOVE this book. The prompts are varied, from quick and easy fill-in-the-blank type questions to introspective ones that invite longer, more thoughtful responses. Whitney has also cleverly inserted opportunities for mom and daughter to put in their own responses, then respond to each other’s answers. My favorite of these asks each how and why they are proud of each other.

The book opens with short instructions, basically telling you to “do you. ” It stresses flexibility, a much needed attribute in today’s over-stressed and over-scheduled world. The purpose of this journal is to share thoughts and ideas that will help you grow closer. Moms will get insights into what their daughters are thinking and feeling; they’ll learn about what it means to be a teen today. Daughters will learn that Mom understands more than they realize; she may not have walked in their shoes, but once wore a pair very similar. As a family historian, I see more value in this book. I imagine years from now many women will treasure these journals and perhaps share them with the next generation.

Honestly, my only issue with the book is the title. I feel this book has value for any mother/daughter combination. While teen references are scattered throughout the book, most of the prompts apply to everyone (even sons!). And those that specifically reference the teen years can easily be adapted to young adults. In fact, I asked my three adult daughters to take this journaling journey with me. Perhaps soon three altered-cover copies of this book (with an X over the word “teen” – or maybe taped over with each girl’s name in its place) will make frequent appearances on my desk. Maybe I can be a journal-er after all.

Note: I received a complimentary advance reader copy of this book, but no compensation was provided for this review. It is the honest opinion of the writer. KY