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Reading daughter’s diary 25 years on and the consequences

(143 Posts)
123ish Mon 02-Oct-23 15:41:22

In the loft I came across my daughter’s diary. I am sorry to say I sat down and read it having never touched it when she was a teenager 25 years ago . Oh what a mistake I have made.
The diary was a rant mostly aimed at me. The accusations were amplified and some of the issues did not happen. A practical example is a £500 vacuum cleaner had got lost in the post and I was cross . This did not happen the vacuum cleaner was £85 and arrived broken and was replaced wit a second one. However even worse was the tirade of criticisms about my parenting. During those teenage years I had had difficulty with boundary setting ie boyfriends, school work and general lifestyle choices and I was exhausted with all this. . We did lots of great things as a family but there was nothing pleasant recorded in the diary. Rant upon rant of how awful I was. All vastly exaggerated just like the vacuum cleaner story. We did live in the country side and she hated it as did her sister. I drove them everywhere to make sure they went to swimming classes, dance, singing., camping, hosteling, foreign travel. They had friends to stay very often. During this time I reduced my work hours to make sure I could provide a good enough home life. Both went off to university and have their degrees and careers and skills learned at home.
Now a parent herself I have received critical comments already re her upbringing so I was aware of some frustrations but not at the level recorded.
I have decided not to tell her about reading her diary. A difficult decision as I am absolutely devastated and now distrustful of her. I really felt I needed to discuss the findings with her but terrified of the consequences. It was my fault I should not have read the diary .

Baggs Mon 02-Oct-23 15:54:36

Teenage angst – and that's what the diary is – is not worth getting upset about now, 123ish. Put it behind you. I really don't think you need to feel devastated. flowers

silverlining48 Mon 02-Oct-23 15:55:04

I understand that you must be so upset, it will have been horrible reading all that criticism. Don’t forget she was a teenager and teenagers can be difficult and may I say often unappreciative of parents in general.
Perhaps best not to tell her you have read it. I found my rather spikey daughters diary in the loft too but didn’t read it as I knew it wouldn't be full of love and appreciation.
I am sorry, try not to let it hurt too much. Teenagers eh? P

lemsip Mon 02-Oct-23 15:59:26

just do not tell her you read it! You should not have done that.

Shelflife Mon 02-Oct-23 15:59:44

Don't feel bad out reading the diary, it's what most mums would do !! I think you are very wise not to tell her you have read it! All this stuff was written a long time ago - so leave it where it belongs, in the past. You obviously gave your daughter the best upbringing possible so rejoice in that. If I questioned my daughters I hope they would recall a happy growing up ............ however they may view those year through their own eyes! Don't feel bad , don't regret reading the diary. Your DD obviously has a few issues regarding her upbringing but most AC have. She doesn't know you read the diary, in your position I would keep it that way. Please don't stress about this , make yourself a cuppa and relax !!

Sara1954 Mon 02-Oct-23 16:04:23

I wouldn’t have read it, not because I’d have thought it was necessarily wrong, after all, she could have burned it.
It would be self preservation that stopped me, best to leave the past in the past.

Shelflife Mon 02-Oct-23 16:04:57

Lemsip, I appreciate your view but what's done is done . Telling her daughter will only cause distress for both of them - and what good will that do ? I also believe that most mums in that position would read the diary - not expecting to read a tirade against them . 123ish feels bad enough without being reprimanded!!

JaneJudge Mon 02-Oct-23 16:05:03

All teenagers think everything is their mothers fault, I would try not to dwell on it. I'm sure she realises now how unreasonable she was grin

She trusted you enough to aim her criticisms at you as she knew you wouldn't reject her. You've done well flowers don;t mention this to her at all

JayDee60 Mon 02-Oct-23 16:06:16

Unfortunately after reading someone’s diaries you can’t get it out of your head. I sling with my husband read his fathers daily A4 diaries after he passed last year. They lived quite a distance from us and when we took early retirement and both of his parents were frail we up sticks and moved within 5 miles where we remained for 7 years till she died in 2020 and we subsequently bent over backwards to look after him till Aug 22. Moving there isolated us from our growing family. We missed 3 children grieving up from babies to first day at school which now was a high risk and moving I regret. However, we did everything and when we had to clear his home we found the diaries. We were called all the names under the sun, comments about not supplying enough meals and snacks, not quick enough to buy his alcohol and moans about us missing a days visit. He never paid us for anything I was shocked and it made me feel sick. It was also clear to us he favoured his daughter over his son and supplied her with large sums of pocket money but we had nothing like that and she would only visit once every 2-3 years!! Sorry to go on but I would recommend don’t ever read someone’s diary.

JayDee60 Mon 02-Oct-23 16:11:58

Should have said we missed 3 grandchildren growing up. Even writing about my father in laws diaries unsettles me.

123ish Mon 02-Oct-23 16:35:49

Thank you all for your wise and thoughtful comments.

Hithere Mon 02-Oct-23 17:00:30

The diary was written such a long time ago!

A different time, age, circumstances, etc.

Nothing good can come up if you bring it up to her

Theexwife Mon 02-Oct-23 17:02:20

I would not have read it, most teenage girls go through a period of angst where everything is the mother's fault. I would not say anything, she will never trust you again and could cause estrangement. I suppose your punishment for reading it will be that you have to keep it to yourself.

I stay logged in here therefore when I die my daughter will be able to read everything I have written, but I am certain she will respect my privacy.

deanswaydolly Mon 02-Oct-23 17:05:12

Both went to university, have careers and skills - you did a good job!!! x

eazybee Mon 02-Oct-23 17:08:31

I never read my daughter's diary, never, because my mother read mine, and would comment jokily on what I had written. Nothing bad, but it was personal, and it made me sly and secretive where she was concerned. No matter where I hid it, and the stories wot I wrote, she would find them, so I stopped writing , and the world lost a great author. Possibly.

123ish Mon 02-Oct-23 17:18:42

Yes ‘Theexwife’ you are correct my punishment is I have to keep this to myself.

Mollygo Mon 02-Oct-23 17:24:04

I don’t think I’d read it. We had some difficult periods and I don’t doubt they’d be recorded. I’d certainly burn it if I found it.
We now get on really well and hopefully these times are what she’ll remember. If she found it after I’ve gone, she’d probably think I had read it and would have to live with the guilt of how unhappy it would have made me.

biglouis Mon 02-Oct-23 17:25:23

I did keep a diary in my parents house but it was written in shorthand - Gregg not Pitman. My parents would never have been able to read it. I remember my nosy mother opening a letter sent to me by a BF in Morocco and she was really frustrated because it was in French. She tried to get my sister to translate it but she had only learned Spanish! I still keep a page a day journal and have them going back 20 years but my handwriting is very difficult to read.

sodapop Mon 02-Oct-23 17:26:23

As Baggs said just teenage angst, don't take it too seriously and definitely don't tell your daughter you have read her diary.
My daughters are in their forties and fifties now but when they reminisce it's invariably about my perceived shortcomings. It's not all beer and skittles being a Mum is it.

LovesBach Mon 02-Oct-23 17:28:02

Mollygo that is such a wise post. You have covered all emotional aspects of reading that which you were never meant to see, and I'm completely in agreement. My DD was rebellious and difficult, and is now a great comfort and a friend.

MerylStreep Mon 02-Oct-23 17:30:56

You have obviously forgotten what it was like to be a typical teenager.

Grandmafrench Mon 02-Oct-23 17:36:35


I never read my daughter's diary, never, because my mother read mine, and would comment jokily on what I had written. Nothing bad, but it was personal, and it made me sly and secretive where she was concerned. No matter where I hid it, and the stories wot I wrote, she would find them, so I stopped writing , and the world lost a great author. Possibly.

That’s a great post, easybee 😉

Grandmafrench Mon 02-Oct-23 17:38:09

Sorry about the ‘Zee’

Margiknot Mon 02-Oct-23 17:47:10

I know you can't get it out of your head now but remember teenagers brains and their thoughts are immature and often rather self centred, and unable to see the bigger picture. Childrens' experience and understanding of the world is a bit limited- whilst teenagers are often trying to break free from the restrictions of childhood. Teens can be rather fed up with life (doom tinted spectacles one minute rose the next?) and entitled too- rushing to get what they they think they need, whilst not ready yet to accept adult responsibilities. Diaries can be a place to let off steam- or fantasize or try out developing writing styles.
It sounds like you did your best and both of your daughters are doing well.

Philippa111 Mon 02-Oct-23 17:54:15

Moral of the tale. Diaries are private!

Also teens are all over the place with new hormones to come to terms with and it's their job to sometimes 'hate' their parents... all a necessary part of the separation process to becoming an individual and an adult and not just someones child.