Writing About Family and Friends

Writing About Family and Friends is like walking a tightrope.In any life stories project, writing about family and friends can be one of the most challenging issues. Of course, you want the stories to be truthful and complete, but there are all sorts of worries and concerns that may arise when you start writing about your own family and friends. Here are some common concerns…

  • Fear of making someone uncomfortable or embarrassed
    After all, you are the one choosing to write your story. Others who make it into your story may or may not be pleased about being included. You may be revealing your thoughts about someone or your interpretation of their behavior and actions.
  • Fear of hurting someone’s feelings
    This could happen in many different ways. If you write about an ex-spouse, you may worry about whether your children will be upset. If you write about something your parents did that impacted you negatively, you may be concerned that it will upset them.
  • Fear of being challenged on your version of a story
    No two versions of any story are exactly the same. We each have our own filter for interpreting events and those divergences will often become greater after time has passed. You may worry about being contradicted or judged for telling your version of events.
  • Fear of retaliation
    This may be less common, but sometimes the most compelling pieces of your life stories project may be related to serious conflicts. Although the people in these stories may not be your intended audience, you may still be concerned about their reaction should they hear of it or read it.

So how do you deal with these issues?

First and foremost, make sure you have clearly defined the purpose of your project. Print our “Define Your Life Stories” worksheets if you haven’t done this yet!

Once you have defined it, you can be fully committed to fulfilling that purpose. For each story you include in your project, you must ask if it supports your purpose. If it does, but you are struggling with concerns with writing about family and friends, ask yourself if the concerning pieces are critical to supporting the purpose.  If not, then you can weigh your concerns against the effect of omitting it.

How do you mitigate possible negative reactions?
It’s important to remember that the story that you are telling is from your point of view. You don’t need to feel concerned about that. However, it is a good idea to take a wider view of what was going on with the other people in your story. Here are two things you can do:

  1. Try to imagine what they may have been thinking and feeling. Do you have an understanding of what may have motivated someone either consciously or unconsciously to behave in a certain way? Try to be compassionate to those about whom you are writing.
  2. Talk to the people about whom you have concerns. You can share your story and ask questions about what they remember about the situation. Having a conversation can both give you that wider view from their perspective and let you explain why you feel it’s important to include the story.

Both of these techniques can help mitigate potentially negative responses when writing about family and friends and possibly give you a new lens with which to see and even reframe events in hindsight.

Just as your version of a story may be very different from someone else’s version, so may someone’s reaction to your story be different from your expectations. Sometimes, you will get a surprisingly positive response when you are expecting the opposite and sometimes you may get a negative reaction when you thought you were sharing something positive. Keep that in mind as you consider everyone you include in your project, not just the ones about which concern arises.

In summary, define your purpose , commit yourself to that purpose, and try to be fair and compassionate to those who are a part of your story.

Whatever you do, don’t let these concerns become a roadblock to telling your story!

If you have any suggestions, please share them below.

Image Credit: Alexander Maslennikov/Bigstock.com

Let us know what you think!


*Affiliate commissions help us to cover the costs of updating and maintaining this website. An affiliate link is a link to a product offered by a third-party that may result in a commission credited to this website. See our Full Disclosure Statement.
Web Analytics