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Reading daughter’s diary 25 years on and the consequences

(144 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 .

Felicititious Mon 02-Oct-23 17:55:36

I clearly remember that my teenage diary was a mix of fact, wishful fiction, vitriol against everyone over the age of 16 and Walter Mitty type of lifestyle reporting.

I ran away from home, so my poor mum no doubt read my highly fictionalised diary and would have been horrified 🥴

Now, if you read your daughters diary aged 39 1/2 and were outraged, I'd agree with you😅

MayBee70 Mon 02-Oct-23 18:02:47

First we love our parents, then we judge our parents then, if they’re lucky we forgive them. Can’t remember who wrote that but it’s so true. Unfortunately most people don’t remember things in the correct way till after their parents have gone. How many of us would give anything to have our mums back so we can tell them how much we appreciated and loved them? I remember, after my marriage had ended, my daughter said she couldn’t forgive me for making me hate her dad. But I’d always said he was a good man and I wasn’t easy to live with. And when I told her that I wanted to give our marriage another go she told me that I shouldn’t, that he’d never change. And now he lives just up the road from her she’s always moaning about him. I’m afraid that, if I came upon a diary like that I would have read it. And it’s made me realise that I should burn a diary that I kept for awhile when the children were young and my marriage was in trouble. The teenage years are the best of times and the worst of times. There’s so much talk at the moment about mental health in teenagers but haven’t they always been an almost terrifying time?

SueDonim Mon 02-Oct-23 18:10:07

I am astounded at claims that most mums would read a child’s diary. Really? What would you expect to read in it? Maybe I’ve been burnt by my mother reading my diary when I was young but I can hand on heart say I would never even open a letter addressed to one of my DC without permission, let alone read a diary.

The OP says she is now mistrustful of her daughter. That is as nothing compared to the betrayal of her daughter’s trust.

JaneJudge Mon 02-Oct-23 18:11:55

There’s so much talk at the moment about mental health in teenagers but haven’t they always been an almost terrifying time?

Yes, I think this is true. I think people are just much more open about their emotions in general now and more is understood. My parents were of the bottle it all up/pull yourself together mentality which isn't very healthy at all imo

BlueBelle Mon 02-Oct-23 18:14:24

I m sure I probably would have read the diary out of curiosity especially if a long time had passed so I can well connect with you 123ish
Please don’t worry if possible, I bent over backwards to make sure my kids had everything I possibly could, although I was on a incredibly tight budget getting nothing at all from their father, who conveniently ‘disappeared’
I sacrificed a lot to make life as comfortable and normal as possible for them My eldest only remembers one stupid game we played which she said frightened her, and my second eldest says he doesn’t remember anything much about his childhood !!!! My third one did remember a few good things phew
However I think I should have just gone out partying after all and not sacrificed any of my life 😂

MayBee70 Mon 02-Oct-23 18:26:29

I once said to my daughter aren’t you glad that I was a stay at home mum and you didn’t have to go to nursery and I was always happy to taxi you everywhere etc and she said not really. Because if you hadn’t’ve been a stay at home mum I wouldn’t have known any different. I rather found that the children of mums that didn’t have the time for them really appreciated it when they sometimes did. Then again, my daughter did give up her career a while back to be a stay at home mum.

Oldnproud Mon 02-Oct-23 18:30:39

123ish
Please don't take the diary too seriously.

If I had written one as a teenager, I am sure it would have been equally heartbreaking for my mum (or my late dad) if she were to read it.

My parents were no worse than most others. With hindsight, I know that they did their best. In fact, I think I probably knew that even then, and their best actually was quite good. I was well fed, well clothed, allowed a reasonable amount of freedom, and was never burdened with any of the problems that I now know that they coped with from time to time.

Despite that, they became enemy number one when I was in my teens. In my eyes, they could literally do no right. I wasn't happy, and I turned it all back on them even though they knew nothing of what I was going through.

I'm not going to say that I now have a fantastic relationship with my mum, but we rub along and I realize now that it is just down to differences in our personalities, and any difficulties between us are at least as much my fault as they are hers.

Hopefully, your daughter will also realize at some point, if she hasn't already, that you are not really the cause of all her (perceived) inadequacies.

JaneJudge Mon 02-Oct-23 18:33:02

Mine always threatened me with childline

Silvergirl Mon 02-Oct-23 18:47:26

I would have read the diary as it would be so interesting to remember what was happening 25 years ago. No, I would not tell her you read them for obvious reasons. Nothing to be gained. You definitely should not get upset by what she wrote. As has been said, teenagers can be very self centred and immature. My diaries as a teenager were so negative towards my mother it was ridiculous. What a Drama Queen I was!!
I read too many problem pages in Jackie and thought I had a really boring life with a boring family. I agree with Maybee, what I would give to tell my mum what a great job she did.

Bella23 Mon 02-Oct-23 19:12:43

I wouldn't give it any more thought. Teenage girls always seem to hate their mother. I know I exaggerated all mines faults and thought my father was kind and generous now I realise he was acting on her directions.
If she knows it is still with you put it back or otherwise burn it.

Callistemon21 Mon 02-Oct-23 19:19:24

JaneJudge

Mine always threatened me with childline

Oh an one of mine did that
😂😂😂

Mainly for turfing her unceremoniously out of bed and getting her to school on time.

AskAlice Mon 02-Oct-23 19:22:08

We went through some horrendous times with our oldest DD when she was in her teens. There was a time when I literally couldn't be in the same room as her, she wound me up so terribly and seemed to hate everything about me and her life with me.

Can I say that we are now so close, she phones most evenings just to catch up and says she loves me often.

Teens are a different breed - just think of Jason and Perry! If I had found her diary from that time I think I would have been tempted to read it (come on, who wouldn't be tempted?) but if I had it would have been with a large dose of hindsight and also the memories of how I felt as a teenager.

Just put it down to experience, never mention it and live your life with her as it is now.

pascal30 Mon 02-Oct-23 19:28:41

I'm just surprised that you are shocked by what you read..What did you expect? She was a teenager.. I would just forget it,she has grown up now

GrannyGravy13 Mon 02-Oct-23 19:55:24

Callistemon21 & JaneJudge I put the childline phone number on the fridge, every time one of our teens (5 of them) complained I told them who they should complain to.

Devorgilla Mon 02-Oct-23 19:57:19

I found a daughter's diary in the loft when we moved house. I didn't read it. I knew this daughter had issues and we probably were perceived as the cause of most of them. Just cling to the wise comment by the late Queen - "Recollections may vary."

Callistemon21 Mon 02-Oct-23 21:22:57

GrannyGravy13

Callistemon21 & JaneJudge I put the childline phone number on the fridge, every time one of our teens (5 of them) complained I told them who they should complain to.

Yes, I used to tell her to phone Esther Rantzen, I'm sure she would make sure she got to school on time too 😁

Doodledog Mon 02-Oct-23 21:48:57

Why not hand it over to her without saying you read it? Maybe put it in a bag with other things and tell her you were having a clearout. There is a good chance that she will read it herself, laugh at the things she wrote, and talk to you about it with the benefit of hindsight. Is she a mother herself? I think that makes a big difference too.

NotSpaghetti Mon 02-Oct-23 21:58:56

I kept diaries from about 16 to 18 or 19.
I know where they are....

I think they should go.
😱

nanna8 Mon 02-Oct-23 22:51:03

Definitely teenage angst, all the world’s against me stuff. They attack the ones they love the most! I bet she would want to curl up and die if she read it now ! Don’t worry yourself, chuck it out or give it back to her.

Callistemon21 Mon 02-Oct-23 23:14:15

It was my fault I should not have read the diary
Probably not.

Was it amongst her things in the attic? Just put it back in the box and casually ask when she's going to finish clearing her stuff as you're decluttering.
Don't mention the diaries.

I'll remind my DC to clear their stuff next time they're home!

Being angry with parents when you're a teenager is one of those rites of passage. Remember this?

www.google.com/search?q=kevin+turns+into+a+teenager+and+perry&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwjGspT-r9iBAxW3mycCHS-_B6MQ2-cCegQIABAD&oq=kevin+turns+into+a+teenager+and+perry&gs_lcp=ChJtb2JpbGUtZ3dzLXdpei1pbWcQAzoKCAAQigUQsQMQQzoICAAQgAQQsQM6BQgAEIAEOgcIABANEIAEOgUIABCiBDoECB4QCjoECCEQClCeFViSSWDSS2gAcAB4AIABVYgBpg2SAQIyM5gBAKABAcABAQ&sclient=mobile-gws-wiz-img&ei=HD8bZca0MLe3nsEPr_6emAo&bih=712&biw=1138&client=tablet-android-samsung-nf-rev1#imgrc=Z8DHdQWGCDisCM

Palmtree Mon 02-Oct-23 23:23:03

I think it best to not take any teenagers writing too seriously. I am sure you were a great parent i would hand it back to your daughter in a bag of belongings and see if she ever mentions its contents. I wouldn't admit you have read it.
I wrote full diaries throughout my children's childhood and teenage years. In hindsight it probably helped my mental health at the time, what some would call journaling now. However now in my 60s I have completely destroyed them all as I realise the moans and groans and honesty could actually be upsetting to people I really love if they were to read them after my death. This destruction, although sad from the historical memories point of view, has actually given me great peace of mind..

Callistemon21 Mon 02-Oct-23 23:25:23

It was my fault I should not have read the diary
Probably not.

Was it amongst her things in the attic? Just put it back in the box and casually ask when she's going to finish clearing her stuff as you're decluttering.
Don't mention the diaries.

I'll remind my DC to clear their stuff next time they're home!

Being angry with parents when you're a teenager is one of those rites of passage. Remember Kevin and Perry?

M0nica Mon 02-Oct-23 23:30:21

I suspect that had DD written a teenage diary, it would have been like this one. She was convinced, from a very young age that she could bring herself up better than I could and her teenage years were particulalry fraught, mind you I might have written a teenage diary like that as well.

Forget it, its what teenagers do. I dearly loved my mother, DD and I have a close and loving relationship with my DD, now aged 50

To quote Mark Twain When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. Exactly the same applies to mothers and daughters.

Chocolatelovinggran Tue 03-Oct-23 11:28:09

My daughter found her old diaries and shared with me how often she wished me dead at 16...
We have a perfectly good relationship now.
I think that most teenagers feel like this and it's no reflection on you ( or her).
It's as everyone here agrees, a rite of passage.

DC64 Tue 03-Oct-23 11:30:30

😱 It’s a good job I didn’t write a diary when I was a teenager … I was full of anger and frustration at the world as most teens are when they are finding their way trying to push boundaries … and everything was everyone else’s fault especially my parents
… luckily we grow up and we mature and we see things through a different set of eyes. Our humanity comes out and we see our parents as people in their own right.
I wouldn’t take the diary writings to heart, just try and find some compassion for the teenager that was writing them as it was more about them than you
- I would go on the person they are now not by what was written back then.