Pledge Week: How and Why I Took the Pledge

How I came to write the the journals that I gave Michael and Caroline as Christmas gifts for two years running boiled down to the simplest of natural forces in the human personality.

Guilt. I’m good at guilt. If I’m ever guilty of anything, it’s of feeling guilty.

But guilt can be good. Little motivates me toward action more powerfully than guilt. I’d never written all that much about our kids, at least nowhere near as much as I felt I should. And other than a note here and there, I’d written next to nothing directly addressing our kids. Doing the journals, I suspected, might – repeat: might – right this wrong and, in the bargain, make up for my numerous imperfections as a father.

But another factor came into play here, too.


Meaning I simply decided to do the journals. Every week I set aside an hour or so, often before breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday morning, to record a special memory. I maintained that schedule all through 2008 and 2009, never missing a week. Slowly, then, the hadwritten entries accumulated, swelling to nearly 70,000 words.

Nothing ever got done without someone simply deciding to do it. Everyone knows that. It’s easier than it sounds, of course, and harder, too. It’s how I quit cigarettes in 1977. It’s also how I’ve stuck to an exercise routine my entire adult life. It’s how the blog you’re reading now came to be.

So if keeping a journal for your kids sounds like something you would like to do, then by all means go right ahead and decide to do it. Just make up your mind without any ifs, ands or buts.
And if you get that far, take the anonymous pledge on this blog’s home page to write such “letters” to your kids. Only you will then know that your decision is now a matter of public record.

P.S. – Part 5 (a preview of this blog in 2011) will appear tomorrow.

P.S.S. – I invite all of you to contribute a guest blog, “Why I Took The Pledge” – a short essay about what you plan to tell your kids in 2011, along with your bio and a family photo. To volunteer, just e-mail me at

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