HOW TO WRITE ABOUT YOUR KIDS is a classic dilemma for many memoir writers. It’s one of the questions I get asked all the time in my classes and personal memoir coaching. And since I have a kid, and I’ve written about her, I really do get how tricky it can be. I mean, you don’t want to make them crazy, right? I remember well the day my daughter told me I had to stop writing about her. It was hard, but I agreed. Kind of (you notice I’m writing about her now, right?). It may happen to you. You, too may be forbidden, so until then, let’s get writing about our kids, shall we?
I have four basic rules for writing about kids, and they run the gamut from what not to write about to what to remember to keep in mind all the time. In a nutshell, forget cutesy, anything adorable, or all-too-personal anecdotes. Those simply are too small.
Instead, think about those things that will resonate with your readers, which is never the cute, inside-baseball jokes of your own family, or the sigh-ing-ly adorable things your kid did. Instead, as in writing any piece of memoir, think about the universal.
What can you write about that others, after reading it, will either learn something, have something confirmed, or be pushed a little to think even more deeply about their own parenting?
How about some examples?
Want some examples? I’ve got them right here, each illustrating one of the four rules of writing about your kids.
- Do not be overly sentimental when writing about your kids. For this, I offer you an essay on what I call birthday party hell. As you can tell, I am not sentimental about these bashes.
- When writing about your kids, zero in on a specific, universal idea, like how life’s big moments happen in the small stuff of life.
- Explore a quandary other parents have. For me, this was imaginary friends, after hearing one too many times that they were dangerous foils who your kid will use to blame for her bad behavior. I doubted it. Here’s why.
- Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself when writing memoir. If a theme resonates with your readers, write more about it. Here is another on the imaginary friend idea, this time from another angle.
And what about you? What have you learned while writing about your kids that you might like to share with others?
Want to learn more about how to write memoir? Please consider joining one of my live, online classes. They start all the time and range from one-night, 90-minute sessions, to a six-month Master Class.