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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 .

Grandmama Tue 03-Oct-23 15:23:21

Don't say anything to your daughter. I read recently that 'A mother's place is in the wrong'.

CrazyGrandma2 Tue 03-Oct-23 15:23:55

Lemsip and just remember that in turn, one day her kids will probably be criticising her parenting style :-). I think it's the circle of life!

MarathonRunner Tue 03-Oct-23 15:28:07

My mother was a very difficult woman , she had mental health issues and there were 4 teenage daughters in the house all pushing her buttons and boundaries . I hated her as a teenager , but she died when I was 39 and raising my 3 made me aware of how difficult life must have been for her back then .
Recalling some of the nasty things I said to her makes me want to cut out my own tongue out sometimes because I realise now she loved us deeply and was trying to raise us properly and protect us whilst we just wanted to be free , have fun and do what we liked . What did we know .
Teenagers are horrible creatures 😫 especially girls .
You sound like a fantastic mum who tried her best for her children . Throw the diary on the bonfire and when you feel upset , look at the children you raised and the fantastic people they have become , that's down to you and you alone . You weren't a horrible mum , you were the best and they'll realise that when their teenagers come stamping through the door hurling insults.
I've moved forward with love in my heart for my Mum and regret for being so difficult and selfish . She tried her best and so did you @GrannyVen .

MarathonRunner Tue 03-Oct-23 16:13:27

MarathonRunner

My mother was a very difficult woman , she had mental health issues and there were 4 teenage daughters in the house all pushing her buttons and boundaries . I hated her as a teenager , but she died when I was 39 and raising my 3 made me aware of how difficult life must have been for her back then .
Recalling some of the nasty things I said to her makes me want to cut out my own tongue out sometimes because I realise now she loved us deeply and was trying to raise us properly and protect us whilst we just wanted to be free , have fun and do what we liked . What did we know .
Teenagers are horrible creatures 😫 especially girls .
You sound like a fantastic mum who tried her best for her children . Throw the diary on the bonfire and when you feel upset , look at the children you raised and the fantastic people they have become , that's down to you and you alone . You weren't a horrible mum , you were the best and they'll realise that when their teenagers come stamping through the door hurling insults.
I've moved forward with love in my heart for my Mum and regret for being so difficult and selfish . She tried her best and so did you @GrannyVen .

Sorry GrannyVen , this was meant also for 123ish .

VioletSky Tue 03-Oct-23 16:30:27

I wouldn't have done this, it is such a huge violation of trust and privacy.

However, there are some things you need to consider as painful as it is...

This is how your daughter genuinely felt 25 years ago. She wrote it in secret and vented her feelings and frustrations.

Of course those feelings will be coloured by her age, level of maturity and her hormones in delicate years.

The way to make amends here for breaking trust would be to understand that that is how she felt back then and that is what is driving her comments now. You could use it as an opportunity to reflect on the past and present and improve the relationship

Remember this diary was never written as an attack on you but for your daughter to privately vent feelings and frustrations. You still have the relationship and the chance to grow closer

Callistemon21 Tue 03-Oct-23 16:33:31

Bella23

Callistemon21

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.

Mine did the same because I made them wear proper uniform and warned them about smoking in the Cemetry at lunchtime.
They quoted the number at me and I said I would phone Mum's line. When asked what the number was I gave my mothers they were terrified of her finding out.

😂😂😂

123gran Tue 03-Oct-23 16:59:27

One life’s rites of passage is to separate from parents and become independent adults. I wonder if that’s easier to do from a position of temporarily ‘hating’ one’s parents and everything they stand for whilst teens work out who they are.

0ddOne Tue 03-Oct-23 17:25:32

You're correct, you should not have read it. That was a massive betrayal of trust. You say you now don't trust her, but it seems she shouldn't trust you either? Onto her "rants"; she was a teenager! All teenagers rail against their parents, usually the mother, and a diary 'should' be a safe, non-judgemental, place to do it. As for the false accusations; many people have what's called 'false memory syndrome', this is when the brain recalls an event happening which never actually happened, or didn't happen in the way they think it did, but the person insists it did. It's not done on purpose, and trying to dissuade the person of their belief is extremely difficult. Plus, teenagers like to exaggerate anyway! I do understand your upset, really I do. I have an adult child who insists they had the worst childhood in the world and that I treated them dreadfully. And they have false memory syndrome, relating events which never happened and embellishing events they weren't privy too, but had been told about. They've gone as far as to tell me they hate me and that they wish me dead. Their sibling thinks they had a great childhood and that I treated them both well. I think I did, though much like most parents, I know I made mistakes. Yes, it hurts, badly, and it's hard to get past, but I've found that the best thing to do, for me at least, is to just be pleasant to them, concentrate my time and efforts on the DGC, and let the adult child be. It's not easy, and I feel for you.

Juggernaut Tue 03-Oct-23 17:34:14

I haven't had time to read through every reply, so I apologise if this has been said before………
@ 123ish, you say you're distrustful of your daughter now.
How would she feel knowing that you saw fit to read her personal, private diary.
She'd have every right to feel distrustful of you!

Alie2Oxon Tue 03-Oct-23 18:18:09

Actually I've found all of this very interesting, as it does explain some things that my sister has said at times through the years when we used to quarrel.
Things - and feelings - I never understood.

I knew they were exaggerated, but now I can see that they came from a time in her early teens when our parents separated, and she had to live with Mum while I was a student up north.
They are just the things she felt at the time and never said.

Our relationship is now much better than at the beginning of Covid, when we weren't speaking! I made a decision not to try and sort out what happened back then. Now we are better friends.

(And a diary is an outlet for such feelings, isn't it. The things you have to get out, and can't say!)

MadeInYorkshire Tue 03-Oct-23 18:20:26

JaneJudge

Mine always threatened me with childline

Ha, ha, so did mine!

About 6 weeks before she died in November last year, my daughter appeared from her bedroom (not a very common occurrence), holding a large brown leather notebook absolutely sobbing her heart out ... I asked her what on earth had happened and she handed me the book. I lifted the cover, and without reading any of it, I could see that it as a suicide note. I closed the book and said that I didn't want to read it, and handed it back. She said that she had found it in the loft, and that she had written notes to me, her sister and her best friend when her mental health was at it's worst, and just before she had made an attempt on her life. Had she not been found on that day she would have died in January last year. She had no idea that she could actually be so vile, and it broke her heart.

When the police were here on the day she died, they had that brown notebook in their hands - it was undated, and they obviously believed that it was her suicide note, but it wasn't - this time there was no note, and I believe that this was accidental, (especially as ASDA turned up with her food shopping) she was just trying to get some sleep and get away from the voices in her head telling her that she wasn't worthy of life. If something did trigger her to do it then it is on her phone - the police took it that day, and didn't send it for download until the 7th August just gone, and there is a backlog of at least 12 weeks. In the meantime, we are left just hanging, waiting for an inquest date - disgusting ....

We have been advised not to read them, and we won't.

Esmay Tue 03-Oct-23 18:40:02

It's a shame that you read the diary .
What ever you do -don't tell her !
The danger would be during a row when things escalate out of control and exchanges get heated .
I remember feeling deeply resentful towards my mother.
She was so cold ,distant and unapproachable .
My friends seemed to have such great relationships with their mothers .
They took them to contraceptive clinics .
A couple arranged abortions .
I was constantly told off and lectured about boys ,drugs and bringing dishonour to our family.
I never recorded my thoughts , because she wasn't adverse to checking my room .
I certainly thought them !

I was determined to have a better relationship with my children and I thought that I did until I overheard my elder daughter telling her American friend that I was a horrible , strict English mother who didn't like being disturbed !
I was seriously ill and in bed .

A couple of years later , she stood in our hall on the phone and told another friend that she was a modern day Cinderella forced to babysit her brother against her will .
It was occasional and I used to pay her very generously .
I had wondered why when introduced to her friend's mother -the woman couldn't have been cooler !

VenusDeVillendorf Tue 03-Oct-23 18:42:06

If your trust is so easily broken by reading some rants written by someone in their teens (who’s brain wasn’t properly developed), and was never meant to be read, I think you and she have bigger issues.

It doesn’t matter what the content is, or ruminate on how much the vacuum cost etc. it’s completely beside the point.

Really, it’s beyond foolish to look for the truth in a diary… after all, Oscar Wilde used to read his diary on the train as it was the best fiction he could get his hands on!

I suggest you close the book on this one and move on.

JaneJudge Tue 03-Oct-23 19:03:03

I'm so sorry MadeInYorkshire flowers you must be reeling x

vivvq Tue 03-Oct-23 19:10:24

I recently found a diary that I kept during my last year at school and first year at university, now 50 years ago. Apart from jogging my memory on some names it was boring and repetitive. Washing my hair seemed to be a big part of my life, as were exams and assignments. I would hate any of family reading it, so has been burned.

MadeInYorkshire Tue 03-Oct-23 19:39:24

JaneJudge

I'm so sorry MadeInYorkshire flowers you must be reeling x

Thank you Jane, yes I really am ... after nearly 11 months I'll be starting some counselling on Monday, not via the NHS I hasten to add - they took until 6 months to the day she died before they called, went to one appointment to 'make a plan' and agreed a follow up call on 15th August - I'm still waiting for that! Thank the Lord for charities, eh?

Delila Tue 03-Oct-23 19:52:46

So sorry MadeinYorkshire. How dreadful for you to have to wait for the inquest on your daughter. I hope it won’t be as long as 12 weeks, and that her phone might give you some sort of explanation.

flowers

Classic Tue 03-Oct-23 20:44:13

I thought I was reading my own post then, exactly the same situation. My daughter wrote a diary which I came across a couple of years ago. It wasn't a diary diary but a school exercise book so I had a real shock when I came across all the vitriol, the swearing and name calling, the evil things she wrote about me and other members of the family. I will never forget them, but I haven't said anything to her, she has two children of her own and I believe in karma, a few years time and she might have nightmare teenagers. There is nothing that can be done or said, hormones and teenage girls have always caused problems, and for some it goes well beyond the door slamming and answering back that I subjected my own parents to.

Nanatoone Tue 03-Oct-23 21:06:49

I won’t add to your woes, there are enough people here berating you OP. I’ll just tell you that I once opened a diary written by my then teenage daughter and read one line ( in my defence her bedroom was worse than a pig sty and I was trying to clean it out). I read something I wish to god I had never read. It was private and none of my business but it really upset me. Nothing to do with me at all but I really should not have read it. I have to keep putting it to the back of my mind ever all these years later. It’s punishment enough for my stupid moment of curiosity and my lazy child’s very poor room management. I was also told something about her by her then drunken boyfriend I most definitely didn’t want to know. Some things are not suitable for parents. Try to forgive yourself and your teenage daughter, know very well that she will be the target of her own children one day. Let it go back to the past where it firmly belongs.

Urmstongran Tue 03-Oct-23 21:15:07

‘Curiosity killed the cat’ comes to mind. Hindsight eh? The OP will mull over this for a time I imagine. But then best to do a ‘Frozen’ .... and ‘let it go’ 🎵 🎶

On another note.
Isn’t it interesting that experiences within a household can be so varied in the ‘remembering’ of them. Or ‘misremembering’. I do sometimes wonder if some of these past experiences and recollections of them contribute to estrangements in some families? As in - adult children who look back and remember events as they saw them & believe them wholeheartedly - and yet “recollections may vary” by their parents or indeed other siblings. So sad to think this probably happens a lot.

Lolly123 Tue 03-Oct-23 21:34:41

You sound like amazing mum forget the diary

VioletSky Tue 03-Oct-23 21:36:36

It is usually things that happen at the time of estrangement that cause estrangement...

Granted people bring up their childhoods to meet demands for reasons why...

But every relationship can generally be saved until the exact moment it can't

Sometimes it is a last straw and sometimes a big blow up...

But people don't generally wake up middle aged (the average age of estranging) and say "my childhood was rubbish, I am estranging"... it's usually a build up of recent events

Debbie740 Tue 03-Oct-23 22:12:47

I sometimes want to write a diary to get rid of my angst but don't because my relatives might see it when I'm gone. And I would be moaning about them but it's not how you really feel. You should broach the topic of her feelings towards you but don't reference the diary, no way. She would go spare!

kwest Tue 03-Oct-23 22:13:15

I agree with the general sentiments expressed here. Dont beat yourself up. this is the sort of behavior that is fairly normal in teenagers. She would be mortified now at her own behavior. I think that we never stop loving our children but there can be little patches where we struggle to actually like them. They probably feel like this about us too. But the important thing is to hang onto the love. They do become lovely people as they mature.

Luckygirl3 Tue 03-Oct-23 22:29:44

MadeInYorkshire

JaneJudge

Mine always threatened me with childline

Ha, ha, so did mine!

About 6 weeks before she died in November last year, my daughter appeared from her bedroom (not a very common occurrence), holding a large brown leather notebook absolutely sobbing her heart out ... I asked her what on earth had happened and she handed me the book. I lifted the cover, and without reading any of it, I could see that it as a suicide note. I closed the book and said that I didn't want to read it, and handed it back. She said that she had found it in the loft, and that she had written notes to me, her sister and her best friend when her mental health was at it's worst, and just before she had made an attempt on her life. Had she not been found on that day she would have died in January last year. She had no idea that she could actually be so vile, and it broke her heart.

When the police were here on the day she died, they had that brown notebook in their hands - it was undated, and they obviously believed that it was her suicide note, but it wasn't - this time there was no note, and I believe that this was accidental, (especially as ASDA turned up with her food shopping) she was just trying to get some sleep and get away from the voices in her head telling her that she wasn't worthy of life. If something did trigger her to do it then it is on her phone - the police took it that day, and didn't send it for download until the 7th August just gone, and there is a backlog of at least 12 weeks. In the meantime, we are left just hanging, waiting for an inquest date - disgusting ....

We have been advised not to read them, and we won't.

flowers - so very hard for you all. Mental illness is so poorly understood and treated.