Last weekend we held a Mother Daughter workshop, called Helping Moms & Daughters Thrive. Co-host Marthe Teixiera, teen life coach, and I wondered if we could pull it off at such a busy time of year. We did. And here’s what we learned.
1) Time is Precious
Moms and daughters like to spend time doing out of the ordinary things. Making a commitment to spend a few hours out of an overscheduled life to do something unexpected offers an opportunity to delight in the unfamiliar. New experiences were created, and we believe even a small shift in routine can lead to a ripple effect over time.
2) Safe Havens
Moms are super busy. Often frazzled. A number of moms even worried that a 2 ½ to 3 block would be too long. It ended up not being enough time. We found we could have spent a half-day or longer talking about joys, worries, concerns, and how our own teenage years influence how we parent today. There may be a retreat in the making.
3) Rewriting Stories of Adolescence
Moms have little opportunity to reflect on their own teenage years unless they make deliberate time. After years of blocking out our own adolescence despite the fact it forms us in very deep ways, it can be hard to revisit. We did this with a letter writing exercise:
“Now imagine that this Younger Self has the ability to see who she grew up to be. . . into who you are today.
What does she notice or remark upon? Your teenage self will write a letter to the woman you are today.”
There is something about recognizing and letting go of the past to release moms and allow them to parent their daughters in new ways – and thereby re-parenting themselves. One mom, who was relentlessly bullied, realized how strong she was as a teenage girl and remarked on how she came through it with a resilience she didn’t truly acknowledge. Another mom talked about body image and her daughter’s embarrassment at looking the mom’s old photos. It must have been tough for mom to see her daughter’s embarrassment.
One mother reflected on how confident she was as a girl, and how hard it can be to witness her own daughter’s struggle with assertiveness. Another mom reflected about having the very same friends her whole life and that she’s just learning now to stretch outside that comfort zone – and finding it exciting. In contrast, another mom never kept in touch with anyone from high school and remarked on that. These are all of our stories. How these stories influence how we parent and raise our children requires more time. Let’s allow it to happen.
4) Same Old Same Ole – No More
Girls today contend with similar issues around fitting in, body image, and friendships. Yet, in a girl culture that is so vastly different today a new set of skills is required for moms. Simple things, like asking both moms and girls if they knew each other’s social network user names turned into a surprising revelation. Most didn’t know. For a hot issues – online girl culture and texting – that give moms so much anxiety, we haven’t focused attention it in our communities. It’s requires new education.
The girls worked on their own collages, focusing on what makes them who they are, outside of physical appearance and looks. Marthe offered about a series of discussion questions about body image and confidence building. As always, girls are happy to chat but providing new questions and a different context can foster meaningful dialog and new perspectives.
5) A Fresh Kind of “Reset”
The mom-daughter yoga session was very moving for many. Despite giggling girls and “awkward” gestures like making a lion roar, the room became entranced. It highlights how little time we take to breathe and stretch. It seems so simple yet unavailable to many of us today.
When Renee guided the group a set of hand movements, called mudras, with the following words I personally felt like crying. With 13 year old at my side, I heard her voice, among a chorus of other girls and moms say out load:
“I am wise.”
“I am brave.”
“I am beautiful.”
Not once, but twice.
I felt we could all change the world in one moment.
6) See Poetry in Everything
Moms and girls created encouragement jars together. The simple premise is that moms and daughters need to receive positive words from each other now and again… not just about achievements, but about who they are — their beautiful souls.
But it can be awkward at this stage. Dropping notes in a jar is one way to send a message. The moms and girls had lots of fun designing their jars. We had hundreds of affirmations to offer the group as a starting point. We hope a new tradition may take hold and both girls and moms will write their own affirmations.
These are simple things. These are teachable moments. Vulnerability, courage, playfulness… and quality time reflected in simple rituals. It changes the mean of Joy-ful.
With sincere gratitude to all mothers, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.
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Contact me fore more information about mother-daughter workshops and Moxie Mom Coaching programs. I’m happy to have a Free Mom-Empower Session with you.
Marte Teixiera, Renee Cinelli & Tara Cousineau, PhD