Being a teenage girl today is tough. Being her mother can be equally challenging.
But take heart. Local nonprofit Girls in the Know (GITK) is partnering with New York authors Sil and Eliza Reynolds to bring a weekend workshop to Maryville University on Jan. 16-17 that is designed to help girls from 10 to 12 years old not just survive the teen years, but thrive.
The mother-daughter duo co-authored “Mothering and Daughtering, Keeping Your Bond Strong Through the Teen Years.”
“Our use of the word daughter in the title of our book is intentionally designed to be active. The daughters are called to be an active, not passive, participant in the mother-daughter relationship,” explained 24-year-old Eliza. “It’s healthy and appropriate for moms and daughters to show up in the relationship no matter their age.”
Sil, a nurse practitioner and psychotherapist, began offering workshops with Eliza almost 10 years ago, borne out of the complex relationship with her own mother. That generational gap was difficult, and Sil was motivated to not repeat its tumultuous cycle with her own daughter.
Through the workshop, the mother-daughter duo hope to bring depth and fullness of relationship, creating a smoother path into the teen years.
“There is a stereotype that teen girls are stubborn, self-centered, rebellious and disrespectful,” said Eliza. “There is so much more to us. We are deeply loyal, loving, complex human beings.”
GITK Executive Director Gina Marten said the Reynolds’ mission aligns with GITK’s mission “to educate and empower mothers and their pre-teen daughters while encouraging positive decisions and healthy behaviors as girls mature into adulthood.”
According to statistics on the GITK website, every seven seconds a girl is bullied; three out of four girls will consume alcohol in high school; out of every 100 students, one or two will struggle with an eating disorder; one in four teen girls has a sexually transmitted infection and seven out of 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way. The statistics are vivid reminders of the importance of a mother’s involvement in a daughter’s teen years.
GITK was founded in 2009 in St. Louis by Lori Lander, who now serves on the Executive Board as founder emeritus. About 600 mothers and daughters attend their four-week speaker series each year, tackling such topics as promoting a healthy body image and self-acceptance; Internet and cellphone use; social media and babysitting safety issues; puberty and male and female anatomy.
Melissa DuPerrett said she first registered for the GITK speaker series to continue the communication momentum she already had established with her daughter, Lauren. Loving the program, Melissa and Lauren worked as facilitators at the winter session offered at Babler Elementary earlier this year.
“GITK provided a community of other mothers and daughters to broach critical, age-appropriate and often sensitive topics to continue discussing with our daughters at home,” explained Melissa, who volunteers as GITK program committee chair. “We continue to springboard off the GITK topics together and also discuss what we’ve learned with her siblings at home.”
Families may choose to participate in only the Saturday morning keynote conversation given by Sil and Eliza, or to sign up for the intensive retreat [which is open to the first 20 mothers-daughters who register, while the keynote session can accommodate hundreds of participants]. To learn more or to register for upcoming events, visit www.girlsintheknow.org.