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The Motherhood-Project: have you participated?

It was only after I had endured a most angst-ridden adolescence that I had read "Reviving Ophelia", a collection of anecdotes of a psychologist's work with adolescent women coming of age.  Granted, as the daughter of two immigrants not fully accepting of "American ways", I didn't have the same experiences as the examples.  Still, something resonated.  When "Ophelia Speaks" came out, I was equally drawn to the stories, written by teenage girls themselves, reliving many feelings and emotions of being a young woman, in search of self, questioning and wondering, struggling and exploring (though I recall feeling the same sense of homogeneity in this book, telling myself I had to one day edit a book that would be more representative of the experiences of girls of color).

That was before I was a mother.  Now, I have a daughter named Ophelia (can you believe?), aged 10.  Roughly two years ago, we started to notice changes in our daughter's mood, behavior.  She was becoming more assertive with us, of the annoying variety, and oh-so emotional.  Tears were abundant, seemingly about mundane things.  But, it all meant the world to her.  We, as her parents, had a hard time dealing with these changes. Rebanal_women

More than anything, I want to have strong, passionate, and confident daughters.  I want them to feel comfortable in their skin, even if they are unlike the images we see on billboards or in the movies.  I want them to speak, loudly and strongly, in public, with elders, with peers, with youngers.  I want them to find their voice, know it and use it.  I want them to dance and perform, for the love of it all, with little self-consciousness.

I think we have our jobs cut out for us.  Raising conscientious and confident girls (or boys - saved for another post) is not easy.  

On thing I have heard about is the Mother-Daughter Project.  Groups of mothers and daughters have come together to support one another through the adolescent period and beyond, providing that important sense of community and sense of belonging, deepening mother-daughter relationship, while also forming strong peer relationships, all in the name of support and camaraderie during difficult times.

Have you participated in a Mother-Daughter Project group?  How have you tried to strengthen your relationship with your pre-adolescent or adolescent daughter?  What were memorable, meaningful relationships for you when you were an adolescent that you hope to replicate for your daughter?

Comments

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I never read the Ophelia books, but as the mother of two young daughters I occasionally think with anxiety about the years ahead, the battles, the attitude, the ways we will grow apart. I know it's natural--and developmentally important--for children to pull away in these ways. But I know I will be looking for strategies about how best to handle those inevitable struggles and support my daughters through them so as to make us ultimately closer.

Which is another way of saying, I had never heard about this project until now but will definitely keep it on the radar. I sometimes tell my first grader that, someday, she'll probably wish I weren't her mom. Sweetly, she says she can't imagine such a thing! Ah, just wait a while!

Oh--and *gorgeous* picture, by the way!

I have been in a M/D group for the last year using the the M/D project as a guide. It has morphed some for the needs of the mamas. We try to meet once a month for mama check ins-which I find extremely helpful-akin to when my girl was a baby and I was in a mama group. Then we try to get the girls together once a month or every other month. My girl really looks forward to our special times. She is getting to know the girls better (actually getting reacquainted since they've known each other since they were small).

So far non of the girls are in the throws of "adolescence" but that is why we started now, so they will have the comfort and support to discuss whatever they want to discuss when they do get there.

I only had other people's mother's to talk to when I was growing up. Not ideal, but at least something. I hope to have a strong enough bond with my girl so she feels comfortable chatting with me, but also give her other safe places to discuss her concerns.

I love this idea! Thanks for sharing the link. I just read My Teenage Werewolf (http://www.myteenagewerewolf.com/) by Lauren Kessler, and it's all about these issues - raising strong girls, staying close through the dreaded middle school years, etc.

Beautiful picture! I don't have girls, but I suspect I will need support to deal with the boy-related adolescent issues.

I have an 8 year old..who will be nine in Oct., this site seems interesting...here's their resources page...they also provided rites of passages for girls and support groups, i think...they are out of oregon city...http://www.maidenspirit.com/resources.html

I also had a wonderful next door neighbor who translated my mothers meanings for me, when I was a teen. I am eternally indebted to that woman.

I also have years of experience working with teen agers with behavioral issues; I teach prenatal classes to teen parents.

Before I was married, I had a roommate/tenant who was the custodial parent of a four year old girl. That girl and I had such a wonderful friendship for the five years we co-habitated. Beautiful, brilliant girl! As her parents had a rather rocky relationship, I expected some behavioral issues when she reached adolescence, and often imagined myself in the role of her mentor.

Well, not one month after giving birth to my second child, her parent dropped her off at my doorstep saying,"You are her last best hope. We are done with her."
Try as I might, I was none of the things I'd hoped I'd be for her. I could never get past the resistance to be the inspiration. It felt like our green pastures where hit with tornado, after tornado, after tornado. I still feel like I failed her.

This has put me on alert to build as many bridges and windows with my daughter as I can, starting NOW. But I am not looking forward to the days that I can no longer breastfeed or kiss away all the troubles!

That is such a lovely picture of three strong beautiful ladies, by the way!

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