Journaling After Divorce: Benefits for Yourself and Your Kids
Keeping a journal during your separation or divorce can help you process your emotions and solidify your thinking about your parenting, communication, and more. But journaling can be used for more beyond your own personal benefit. It can also be used as a resource for keeping track of your child’s emotional and physical well-being, especially during stretches of time when they aren’t opening up to you as freely. If you share a journaling platform, such as the one that OurFamilyWizard offers, you can even share these insights with your co-parent and other extended family members, enabling all of you to provide the best possible support for your children during a divorce or separation.
Journaling For Yourself
If you're not accustomed to collecting your thoughts at the end of the day by writing, you may find it difficult initially. You might even feel silly to put into words encounters you've had throughout the day. We've already discussed the numerous benefits of keeping a divorce journal, but these are the most potent reasons why you should consider overcoming your initial discomfort with writing about yourself.
- Develop insight about your situation: By keeping track of your daily thoughts and emotions, you'll find yourself paying sharper attention to events as you experience them. As you begin to write down your recollection of a day's events, you'll be training your mind to store details about your emotions, thoughts, and reactions to interactions you have with your family and the world at large. Heightening your memory in this way may even help you manage negative reactions to stimuli in the future, as you'll be better able to understand your instinctive responses to certain 'threats,' allowing you to respond calmly when you otherwise may have responded impulsively.
- Collect your thoughts on difficult subjects: Sometimes we must force ourselves to think through difficult situations that we'd rather avoid. On the other hand, when emotions are heightened, it's all too easy to settle on one conclusion rather than probe deeper about our own contribution to conflict. By coming back to a topic after the dust has settled, you'll be better able to think honestly and openly about conflict and the circumstances that contributed to it.
- Daily documentation: Beyond the deeper insights about your emotions, journaling can simply be a great tool to track daily interaction and simpler thoughts that you may enjoy returning to later in life. Making a note of silly interactions, a funny joke that your child told you, or a strange sight you saw on your way to work can make you more present to the simple pleasures the world has to offer.
Journaling For Your Children
Journaling about your children, especially when sharing the entries with your co-parent, is going to look very different than tracking your own emotions and thoughts. Even though it’ll look and feel different, you’ll experience a lot of the same advantages you may receive from personal journaling. Think about starting journaling about your children on a regular basis, perhaps every-other-day to start to see if you enjoy and benefit from the process. Here are a few reasons why you may find this beneficial:
- Emotional insights: By chronicling your children’s emotional states, you’ll be able to recognize patterns that may have otherwise slipped by you. When you note a particular reaction to an event, you’ll have the opportunity to connect that reaction to similar ones in the past, possibly offering insights into catalysts for tantrums or depressive moods.
- Co-parenting teamwork: Journaling can also help keep co-parents informed about their children’s emotions when they’re with their other parent. If your child has a fight with a friend or becomes troubled by current events, you and your co-parent can inform each other of these developments. If these topics come up between you and your child, you’ll be better prepared to handle them by having these additional observations from your co-parent.
- Anticipating your child’s needs: As you pay closer and closer attention to patterns in your child’s behaviors and moods, you and your co-parent will be better able to anticipate specific needs they may have well in advance. Instead of simply reacting to situations as they happen, understanding the progression of your child’s moods enables you to lessen the effects of stressful situations. Anticipating when your child needs to talk, needs to be reassured, or needs a break can greatly help their overall disposition. It will also show them that you are paying attention and are deeply attuned to their needs.
Keeping a consistent diary has numerous benefits that reach far beyond collecting your thoughts. If you plan on collaborating with your co-parent when chronicling your child’s progress, consider using a platform that allows for quick and easy sharing of entries. With the OurFamilyWizard journal feature, you’re also able to keep private and shared entries side-by-side, giving you a flexibility that traditional pen and paper methods do not. Whatever system you do end up using, you’ll be training yourself to pay closer attention to daily occurrences, deepening your appreciation of them in the moment and imparting deeper insights into your emotions and thought-processes.