By Glenn A. Peters, Ph.D.

Some questions that I think are important in starting to develop a Parenting Journal are taken from Eileen Paris and Thomas Paris book, I’ll Never Do To My Kids What My Parents Did to Me! These are questions that get you to focus on your own past childhood experiences:

  1. Did my parents pay more attention to my accomplishments than to my feelings?
  2. Did I have to perform to feel accepted?
  3. Did I feel important in my family?
  4. Did my parents impose rules to protect me or to punish me?
  5. Did my parents yell or scream at me?
  6. Did my parents punish me by criticizing me or calling me names?
  7. Did my parents punish me by withholding their love?
  8. Did I get punished for crying?
  9. Did I have to rebel to be different?
  10. Who took care of me when I was sick?
  11. Did my parents support me emotionally when I made mistakes?
The questions listed here are not exhaustive and Eileen Paris and Thomas Paris in their book previously mentioned, list many more questions, but at least this list can help get you started in understanding your own past childhood experiences. As you gain more of an understanding of your own childhood experiences, Thomas Paris and Eileen Paris go on to describe how you can develop and use a Parenting Journal to record continual or regular parent-child conflicts that upset or aggravate you. In the Parenting Journal, you first write the specific incident that leads you to be upset with your child. Secondly, you write the injury or emotional experience that you observed in yourself, i.e. did you feel not listened to? Did you feel ignored? Did you feel that your child did not value your opinion? etc. and Finally you rate that injury from 1 to 10 depending on the level of impact or emotional intensity that injury or emotional experience had on you. 1 is minor or mild and 10 is extremely intense.

By using awareness of your own childhood experiences along with this journal you may start to discover certain themes or emotional patterns from the past that currently influence your relationship with your child. The goal of the Parenting Journal is to help you discover some of your own childhood themes that are being replayed with your children and to start to work on lowering the emotional intensity or reactivity that you have when your children trigger your own past emotional childhood patterns.