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How to create a parenting mistake journal

The Parenting Mistake Journal is one of my favorite ideas that I've had over the years and I'd love for other parents to be able to utilize this one as well. As a seasoned parent, I have come up with many parenting ideas. Some have been successful and some have not. That's just par for the course. It simply is nature that mistakes come with parenting. Part of being a good parent is learning from those mistakes, so the same ones don't happen over and over. It can come in handy to keep a written record of those mistakes that can easily be referenced if need be.

What is a parenting mistake journal? A parenting mistake journal is like an organized diary. It's a way to keep track of parenting issues that you feel you may have handled better with a different strategy. Each time parenting strategies are employed that do not seem to work as planned, they can be written about in the parenting mistake journal. On that same note, remember also to keep track of things that do work.

Why use a parenting mistake journal? A parenting mistake journal provides easy access to past mistakes. This can help solve related or similar future issues that may come up. By having situations written down, you can remember exactly what happened before, as well as what did and did not work. This can help to implement new or improved strategies to strengthen the chances of a more positive outcome.

When should I write in my parenting mistake journal? Anytime a parenting strategy does not have the expected results is a great time to use the parenting mistake journal. When doing so, remember also to write down ideas on why you feel the strategy may not have worked out, as well as how it may have been more successful.

Should I share my parenting mistake journal? The answer to this question depends on the circumstance, as well as how comfortable you may feel doing so. In some instances, it can be good to admit to your kids that you've made a mistake, as well as let it be known how you intend to solve it. This can foster acceptance of mistakes in the kids, as well as the desire to resolve them. Sharing your parenting mistake journal can be a great way to open up discussion in some situations. As the parent, it is your responsibility to decide what is and is not a good situation in which to share your parenting mistake journal.

How do I learn from my parenting mistake journal? By going back and rereading the parenting mistake journal, parents can learn from past mistakes. Think about what did not work before and why. Reflect on that and come up with a new plan, based on what you know from before. Organization is key to making the most of your parenting mistake journal. This way, it will be much simpler to find answers on short notice, if need be.

How can I make my parenting mistake journal easier to reference to? Entries can be organized by topics or by dates. I find that topic organization is the best way to organize something like this. A binder is a great thing to use as a parenting mistake journal, as pages can be moved where necessary. Labeled tabs or separators can be placed to mark topics. Some topics might be hitting, cursing, tantrums, refusing chores, homework frustration, etc. Each parent can choose their own topics based on necessity. Those are just some examples of what someone might choose.

Will people be offended by things I write in my parenting mistake journal? It is possible that some may be offended by what you write in your parenting mistake journal. If you feel this is a possibility with your family, either keep your parenting mistake journal private or word it in such a way that will still allow you to learn and grow, but is more attentive to the feelings of others.

How can I make my parenting mistake journal a keepsake? Some parents may choose to make a keepsake of their parenting mistake journal. When the children are grown, this can be a unique and interesting way to share parenting lessons and memories. It also could be great for grown children to use as a reference when they have their own ideas. There are scrapbooks that are designed in three-ring binder style, but can be beautifully decorated. These would make for a lovely parenting mistake journal that would double as a keepsake. Remember that decorations can be added later, after you have written the parenting mistake journal. Pages can be taken out of the original journal and placed in anew one for decoration. There are many ways to do this. Be creative.

- Photo: Wikimedia Commons; public domain

*For more positive parenting tips, click on the author's byline or read her book Positive Parenting Tips for Every Week of the Year.


  • Lisa Carey-Houston Family Examiner 5 years ago

    Excellent suggestions!

  • Elizabeth Kelly: Nashville Healthy Food Examiner 5 years ago

    Interesting, but I wonder if it should be called something else that doesn't emphasize the word "mistake?" Or perhaps keep TWO journals, one that documents the successes and triumphs. As always, a novel perspective from you!

  • Maria Roth, KC Family Entertainment Examiner 5 years ago

    It's a great idea, but I'm afraid I'd spend too much time recording all my mistakes...there are so many of them!

  • Charlotte Kuchinsky 5 years ago

    I'd be writing in it 24/7. Just kidding. Well, sort of.

  • Vanessa 5 years ago

    The title threw me at first, but this really makes sense. We can easily fall into patterns and repeat mistakes in any area of life. Journaling can also reveal a pattern of what works.

  • Carmen Lytle-Virginia Beach Abusive Relationships 5 years ago

    Lyn, This is such a great idea. What a caring thing to do for yourself and your children. I've made plenty of parenting mistakes. Just yesterday....well I'll write about it in my journal. ;)

  • Heather 5 years ago

    Lyn, what a great idea. I've already had some practice admitting my mom mistakes at It's nice to be able to put it out there and then try to figure out where to go.

  • Cathy Montville 5 years ago

    I have a book as big as my kitchen table!!! Just ask my girls! lol

    This is a wonderful idea, Lyn! I have to get writing here at Examiner. I cannot wait for October when my business slows and I can get some writing done!

  • Sean Easlye: Dallas Generation Y Examiner 5 years ago

    This sounds like a fantastic idea, Lyn!

    I joined and subscribed to you!

  • Beverly Bright 5 years ago

    I found you! This article sounds like a good idea, however, had I done that I would have to keep it hidden as one of my children would have used it against me....come to think of it, she didn't need a journal to remember things to use against me! LOL!