Ways the Writing Life Can Enrich Our Families

Sometimes it’s easy to get our focus stuck on the hardships of the writing life, the heart-wrenching rejections, the countless sacrifices, the hours and hours we expend for so little external reward.

The writing life is hard—not only on us, but also on those who are closest to us. If you’re like me, at times you may question whether the writing life is truly worth the pressure it exerts upon our families and loved ones.

Lately I’ve realized that even though misunderstandings and discouragement are part of the writing journey, there are aspects about it that can be a blessing to those around us—especially as we try to juggle parenting and writing.

*When we pursue our passions, we’re able to bring fresh energy to our parenting.

I spend the majority of my time with my children, overseeing their education and activities, training them, and loving them. When I write, I get a break from the routine of mothering. I have a chance to do something else that takes my attention off my children—even if only for a short time.

Writing rejuvenates me. Yes, it’s hard work and draining at times. But when I nurture my creativity, I refill a place inside me. Then as I return to mothering duties, I’m able to do so with a revitalized perspective that hopefully spills over into the lives of my children.

*When we approach our work time with diligence, we model what we expect from our children.

When my children complain about doing their work, I tell them, “I never expect more of you than I expect from myself.” In other words, I set the tone. When I use my time wisely, stay focused, and work diligently, then I can require the same of them in their work.

I remind my children that they are in training for adulthood. The habits, the learning, the character building—it’s all preparation for the rest of their lives. One of the ways I can prepare them is by my example. When I write even when I’m tired or distracted, I teach them to work when they don’t feel like it. When I finish a novel or two, I teach them the importance of seeing their work to completion.

*When we use our God-given talents with purpose, we teach our children to pursue their gifts too.

I love talking to my children about how each of us is different, how we’re made with special talents and abilities which I call “gifts.” They’ll say, “Mom, you’re gifted in writing. But what’s my gift?” I explain to them that they can usually find their gift by assessing what they’re naturally inclined to, good at, and love doing.

Of course my children are still exploring and discovering those talents. But when they see me using my writing, it challenges them to chase after their gifts and use them to the best of their ability. I make a concerted effort to point out the gifts of other moms and dads so that my children can see the variety of ways they can live purposefully.

*When we show determination in the face of odds, we give our children courage to do the same.

When we had the baby squirrels last week, I watched my one of my daughters do everything in her power to protect and save the babies. After it started to sprinkle, she held an umbrella over the first baby that had fallen from the tree. She sat for hours guarding it from a distance, chasing away blue jays, and waiting for the Mama to reappear.

She sacrificed hours of her time, lost sleep, and put every ounce of her love and energy into caring for them—even though we didn’t know if the babies would survive. I observed her with growing admiration, amazed at her determination and passion. And then it struck me—she’s following my lead. She’s witnessed me pushing forward in the face of rejection and hardship, determined to keep on writing even when it seemed hopeless. Now she's doing the same.

I’m far from the perfect mother. I continually struggle to balance mothering and writing, and sometimes I fail to keep the scale level. But I’m hopeful that as I use my gifts, and you use yours, whatever they may be, that through them we can enrich our families.

What are some ways you’ve seen your writing (or other passions) benefit your family? How does writing make you a better person?


  1. What lovely sentiments. I'd like to think my writing impacts my kids in a positive way, as far as the discipline and dealing with rejection as not the end of the world aspects.

    My greatest compliment: My youngest wanted to plagiarize one of my stories. Naturally, I did not allow her to do so and I admonished her never to so, but how sweet is that?

  2. Eeek! I'm not sure. My kids are five and younger, so I usually do the bulk of writing when they're busy. LOL But...they know I work on the computer and I hope I can set a good example for them.
    Wonderful post! I read it to my five year old, who's sitting next to me right now. :-)

  3. This is an amazing post, Jody. Your points are all wonderful.

    I think as my kids watch my determination to grow in this craft and push forward, it helps them to push forward, striving harder in their own endeavors. I also believe witnessing my discouragement at times adds to that. They see me struggle but not give up.

    Hard but a wonderful lesson to pass on.

  4. Like you, the creative outlet makes me a happier person. If Mama ain't happy nobody's happy. (-;

  5. This is a great post, Jody!
    Writing makes me extremely happy. When mama's happy the kids are happy. My kids are really you so I'm not sure what impact it has had on them yet. I try to do a lot of it when they sleep.
    Have a great day!

  6. My writing just makes me happier and when I'm happy, everyone benefits ;)

  7. My husband once said that he was glad our boys got to see me pursuing me passions because it says to them that dreams are worth the fight and that sometimes the fight takes time. cool hey :)

  8. I'm not really the writer in my family - my daughter is. She's got the most amazing imagination and she's naturally gifted with words at age 10. I've never seen anything like it. So, mainly, I like to show my daughter (and son) that even when I'm busy with working, getting she and her brother to soccer/baseball practice, volunteering at church, cleaning house, etc. there is always time to pursue our passions. I think our children can witness a good work ethic and learn from that. And like you said,

    "When we use our God-given talents with purpose, we teach our children to pursue their gifts too."

  9. Oh, your daughters are lovely! What gorgeous hair color!!!!

    I know my kids have been impressed with the courage it took to write a novel. And they are very impressed with the blog! lol Their mom, the blogger! :) I hope someday it inspires them to follow their dream, no matter their ability, no matter what age they are.

  10. I've seen my kids dream and set their dreams into motion. They have all begun stories. Even my three-year-old has a saved Word doc. It looks like this:


    A story.

    I also got to attend a Young Author and Reader Celebration that my eight-year-old was selected to receive an award at.

    I know I'm instilling beautiful things in them when I pour myself into reading and writing.

    Someday I want to be old, visiting them and lying on a beach or dock with them...noses in books.
    ~ Wendy

  11. Our one and only is off at college. I began my writing journey during her high school years, and I like to think I've demonstrated the value of pursuing one's dream with passion. She's in the process of changing her major from one that's not a fit to one that is, and I'm all for it. As I tell her, I want her to find whatever it is that brings her joy the way my writing does me--and I'd love to see her do so much earlier in life than I did.

  12. Jody, thank you for this. I can't tell you how many ways you've encouraged me through your blog. I've been thinking for months about a "what my writing has taught my children" post. What you have here far surpasses anything I could create.

  13. It's still too early to really think but...I would definitely be more grumpy if I weren't using up some of my brain power outside of parenting and I've seen my kids want to write more. And that's always a good thing.

  14. I have no children, so I can't comment on much in that department.

    But a few of my good fiends have been re-inspired to pursue their dreams since I started following mine so passionately.

    I guess it's contagious. :)

  15. Good points, hadn't thought about it quite like that. I think anytime we are fulfilling our calling it branches out and can benefit other areas of our lives, such as our family, in a positive way.

  16. Great thoughts! It's so easy to trap myself into thinking that my writing does more harm than good to my family because of time spent not-on-them.

  17. We do set the tone as mothers.... excellent reminder! :O)

  18. I think the greatest gift we can give our children is to do what fulfills us. I didn't know that when I was a young mother, back in the 1970's. You are so right, Jody. You are a living, breathing, healthy role model. My writing fulfills me and makes me happy and that happy spreads to those around me. Thanks for reminding us of the importance of doing what we love, even if it means sacrifycing some.

  19. My son is still a little guy, but I hope that some day he'll be able to see that he should always strive to follow God's path for his life.

  20. This is such a wonderful post, Jody. You've covered the issues that are surely there for me - the belief in integrating meaningful work into our lives, the modeling of persistence and resilience...Thanks for this excellent column!

  21. Great post, Jody.

    I may have mentioned this here before, but when my now eight-year-old son was five, he came upon me scribbling ideas as fast as I could into a notebook. (They were the beginnings of my WIP, and I was afraid I'd lose them if I didn't get them on paper immediately!)

    He sat down next to me and studied me for a few seconds. Then he said, "Mommy, you love to write and write and write."

    I told him that I did, and both my kids have watched me write ever since. They've watched me finish a first draft, they know I've got lots more work ahead of me and that I intend to complete it. They've watched me work through frustration and broken computers, great ideas and days when I think I can't write at all. And they know I do it because I love it.

    If our kids take from our writing that they should find something they love and work hard it in spite of obstacles, then we will definitely be able to put a big checkmark in the "Success" column of parenting.

  22. Beautiful post, Jody. I feel like writing benefits my family in that I have some flexibility. This is what I've chosen as my career (though it's to be seen whether I can make any money at it!). Writing gives me the chance to be home when they're sick, to be there when they have a special program at school or a day off. And I think it makes me a better person, being creative, which in turn makes me a better mom.

  23. I love this Jody. I'm trying to model behavior on every level that will enrich and inspire my children. It's so important for them to see us grow and reach for our goals as individuals.

  24. Beautiful post, Jody! I don't really see any benefits of my writing on anyone other than myself. I suppose writing makes me happy, and when I'm happy my hubby is happy. So I guess that's how it's beneficial!

  25. Are those your precious girls? They are too sweet! My 8 y.o. DD would get along with them just fine. ;)

  26. Beautiful post, Jody :) I'm single with no kids, so my writing doesn't affect my family as much, I suppose. But I think my friends and family admire me for pursuing my dreams, even when it gets difficult and I want to quit. Some of them have come up to me and said I inspired them to chase after their own dreams, so maybe there is something my family can learn from my writing endeavors ;)

  27. A lovely family pic.

    Juggling many things and keeping a well balanced family is an art. Learning that you are not time wasting when you write is important.

    A refreshed mother is better than a distressed mother :)

  28. You are one wise woman, Jody! You are a blessing to your family and to the writing community.

    One of your comments especially caught my attention. "When I nurture my creativity, I refill a place inside me." Knowing that we cannot give what we do not have is important.

    In all aspects of our lives, sometimes we give and sometimes we take. Whether it is in our Christ-following, our family relationships, our artistic and creative pursuits or our emotional stability, at some point the well needs refilling before we can continue to serve effectively.

    I think you've just inspired another post for my blog! Thank you. :)

  29. Great post, Jody! Love the connection between our writing and how it can enhance our families! I've found that my daughter respects the fact that I've carved a niche for myself in the blogging world and have had a few articles published.

    I love your insight, "I remind my children that they are in training for adulthood. The habits, the learning, the character building—it’s all preparation for the rest of their lives. One of the ways I can prepare them is by my example." I pray for the Lord's grace in this area!! Blessings!

  30. What a lovely post with good points. I love sharing my writing with my son, who has taken to occasionally writing stories and poems of his own. It's something we can share.

    You sound like a great mother to me. And the story about your daughter with the baby squirrel made me tear up a bit. You must be so proud.

  31. I'm catching up and read Monday's post - so sad and beautiful and inspiring, Jody. You have such a gift of expressing life's truly important lessons in the most beautiful and natural of ways. today's post does it too. Family is most important - always. And you're right that our careers and writing have a lot of good to offer our kids. Mine always comment on how long I've been working and how hard I've been trying. it's the perfect opportunity for teaching life lessons. Again, thank you for your wisdom and inspiration.

  32. Love this, Jody. I would say all of the above on how writing affects my family.

    Also, it shows our kids delayed gratification. Many of us put long hours into our writing for years before we make a penny at it. We do it because we love it and believe in ourselves. I hope my kids will see the reward in that.

  33. I have a hard time with balance too, but I see the same things with my kids. My 6-year-old wants to be a writer when she grows up. That's kind of cool.

  34. I love thinking that my writing will leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren. That is a great motivation for me.

  35. Beautiful thoughts...and truths. I am big on the parable of the talents and your comment about using gifts.

    It goes back to the Audience of One for me and giving Him the best of what I have to give.
    Kids see that.

  36. This is a really good post! Great thoughts on this!

  37. Hi Jody -

    Thanks for sharing your family life with us.

    Whether with children, other family members, or friends, I think our commitment encourages them to not give up.

    Susan :)

  38. Jody, we share so many of the same struggles, but also the same sentiments about the benefits of what we do. It has taken other people from the outside for me to see just how what I have done in my writing life has likely made a positive impact on my children. And they have been so encouraging to me in times of rejection and doubt. It has truly lifted my soul and been a reciprocal sort of exchange. I do feel that my having been published has given them something to shoot for as well. It has shown them what is possible. As they are helping me to keep on keeping on, I am teaching them in turn that it's worth it, even through suffering and struggling times. All of these things are valuable, and it's good for us to reflect on them and be reminded of the WHOLE picture. :) We writers can get too detail oriented at times and lose that.

  39. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  40. Wow. I wish I'd read this when my two kids were growing up! You are so wise, Jody. I admire you.

    I believe my writing and other passions have benefitted my family in several ways: they see the beauty in pursuing a dream and the joy of seeing it fulfilled; they learn that hard work pays off; they observe the struggle of trials, and how we've grown through them.

    Happy Weekend!

  41. I am definitely more settled, relaxed, fulfilled..after a spot of writing. That makes me happy and I think it rubs off on the rest of the household! ;)

  42. What a great post, Jody, and adorable shot of your girls. Agree completely; we set the tone.

    I just (like twenty minutes ago!) tweeted that on Saturday, I'll be the mother of a legal adult. My first born turns 18 but my heart still cuddles him close. In September, he'll embark on a journalism B.A. degree at SUNY-Purchase and that heart swells to near bursting because he got the writing bug from me!

  43. I teared up when I read about your daughter protecting the squirrels. In leading by example, you're child is blessed.

    We may not be perfect, but I like to believe that setting this example will give my little "arrow" a better zing into the world than I had as a child. She'll go further for having seen me strive to attain my goals and having seen me have the courage to dream, be disappointed and be willing to do it all over again.

    Thanks for a great post!

  44. Your last two posts are personal and sad, and yet show great compassion. You're right, when we follow our dreams, work towards our goals, and use our God-given talents we're sending a stronger message to our kids than just our words could ever tell.

    So sorry to hear about your father-in-law's serious illness.

  45. This is an amazing post, Jody. Your points are all wonderful.
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