Mother Daughter GroupPosted: September 28, 2012
Sometime last February, I learned of increased drama in my daughter’s 5th grade class. Girls were being left out, feelings were being hurt and self-confidence was plummeting. Although expected in the pre-teen and teen world, it is still painful to witness. Around that time, a mom from the class posted a picture of her daughter on Facebook. The comment accompanying the photo stated that her very feminine daughter was hesitant to wear the skirt from the photo to school because she feared that her peers would make fun of her. I showed my daughter the picture and asked her what she thought. She said that the skirt was “really pretty” and she would “never” make fun of this classmate for wearing the skirt to school. I proceeded to share this with the mom and what ensued, with another mom pitching in, was how our daughters’ are not feeling comfortable or confident in their own skin.
About the same time I had joined the DCTherapistmoms group. I was privy to a wealth of information from the members about their practices, therapeutic interventions and resources around the DC area. I posted on the listserve requesting ideas for boosting girls’ self-esteem; I was particularly asking for books, but open to anything.
I received lovely feedback from Karen Schachter. Karen is therapist who specializes in working with girls, healthy body image and food issues, and has been a great resource for me. We spoke one afternoon and I voraciously took notes on all that she had to offer. Karen shared ways that she works with this population, workshops she had led and ways to approach both my daughter, her peers and their parents. (A disclosure: most of my clinical work is with older adolescents and not this age group, but truth be told, no matter how old the child is, when it lives in MY house, I am a floundering mom and always seek advice and support from those that are NOT me). Speaking to Karen was incredibly helpful and I am so grateful for her time and expertise. Karen also planted a seed in my head about a group for mothers and their daughters.
In 1997, a group of mothers of young girls… gathered to address the challenges of mothering adolescent daughters in today’s world. … We were determined to come up with a plan that would enable our girls to thrive through adolescence, that would help us to remain close and connected with them, and that would support us as mothers and as women. The Mother Daughter Project Website
The book is based on these women’s experiences of their group with their daughters. It discusses adolescent development, aspects of their specific group and provides a guide to starting a group of your own.
I approached the mom’s at our synagogue whose daughters are part of my daughter’s Hebrew School class and piqued their interest about forming a Mother Daughter Group. These girls do not attend secular school together, they are not in each other’s cliques nor are they caught up in the drama of the every day minutiae at school. The model suggested getting away from the school friends and I found this to be a fitting population from which to form our group. These girls only see one another twice a week for a few hours. I also thought that we could incorporate Judaism into the group, which is absent for these girls in their public school environments.
Twice during the summer the interested moms gathered over coffee to plan our group. I only knew a few of them prior to our first meeting, but already am building bonds and nurturing friendships with these women. We made introductions, talked about our daughters and our goals for the group. We also planned out several of the first few monthly meetings.
Last Sunday night we had our first meeting. Eight moms and their daughters met at one person’s home. We gathered in their beautiful living room with just the right lighting and ambience for this special group of women and daughters to begin their journey. The sixteen of us sat in a circle, some on cushy sofas, some on the floor, two girls huddled together on an ottoman and the group came alive.
We began by playing a name game. A few moms then presented our vision of the group to the girls. We talked about rules, respect and confidentiality. We asked the girls if they had suggestions and they eagerly offered up ideas from having participated in Girls Scouts, Girls on the Run or at camps. We suggested they think about a name for their group while we enjoyed a dinner of pizza and potluck appetizers. The girls were seated at a table in a room separate from the moms. We heard laughter and chatter coming from the other room; fun and connection was in the works.
Next on the agenda was for the girls to make cupcakes. The
controlling person that I am wanted to assist the process. My new mom friends gently pulled me out of the kitchen to allow the girls to work it out themselves. And, they did. They made great cupcakes and had some time to let loose in the basement. When it was time to go, they had decided on a name for their group: The Girly Gangsters and posed for a group picture true to their name.