Girls on the Brink of Adolescence

Strategies for Supporting Resilience, Connection, and Growth



A Workshop for Parents

Parents of pre-adolescent girls have a difficult job to do. Our highest priority is our children, yet we know we have to give our daughters more freedom as they get older. We may be especially afraid to “let go” as daughters approach adolescence. We don’t like the over-sexualized ten-going-on-twenty-five adolescence of MTV and other media. Yet our own adolescences are hardly what we hope our daughters will experience.

“Girls on the Brink of Adolescence” presents new developmental approaches to the dilemmas of girls in our society. Parents can discuss these approaches, share experiences and learn from each other and from the workshop leader. Participants can then continue to meet, with or without a facilitator if they wish.

Workshop topics

Girls’Self-Esteem
Study after study shows that girls’ self-esteem goes down significantly, sometimes drastically, between the ages of nine and fifteen. How can we counteract this? Is the self-esteem psychologists measure the kind of self-esteem that girls need? What is Relational self-esteem and how is it different from self-esteem based solely on achievement?

Preserving Our Own Self-Esteem
When pre-adolescents need to flex their muscles and exaggerate their shaky independence, they often choose their parents as their target. Because mothers have an especially complex connection with their daughters, conflict between them is often especially stormy. For both parents, daughters’ outbursts can really hurt. How can we continue to react calmly and hear the real message behind what seems like “constant criticism”?

Girls and Sexuality
Society gives our girls a message that attractive equals sexual, and girls want to be attractive to boys at earlier and earlier ages. Bolstering boys’ self-esteem is held up as a way to be attractive. This is also interpreted in a sexual way, and does not leave room for developing mutual respect, each partner bolstering the other.

Girls Who Speak Out
What will happen to girls who don’t “cover up” their ideas, their strong feelings, or their resistance to the ways they are “supposed” to behave and think? How can we protect our daughters from serious pain while helping them develop the strength to be who they are and stand up to invalid criticism?

A Good Future
When we distill out all the options, possibilities, values and “good things” that can be part of a woman’s life, which ones do we truly, deeply want for our daughters? Which are nice to have but not really essential? How do we help our daughters distinguish one from the other so the choices they make — even the mistaken ones — ultimately get them where they want to go?