Next ‘Girls Journeying Together’ group starting in the spring 2016



Free Trial Session for girls (with Mums)
on Saturday 30th April 10:30am-12:30pm

Best Friends Forever

Every year around spring time, I start another of my year-long Girls Journeying Together groups.  A dozen or so 10-12 years olds sit in a circle in my sitting room nervously wondering how we will pass the afternoon.

We meet monthly, so they’ll get a sense of what monthly feels like, and we cover all manner of things over the year.  Their needs and concerns help to determine their year’s programme.  Over the year I provide the space for each girl to:

  • dream into her future
  • clarify her values
  • learn about the changes that puberty brings
  • discuss the pressures of peers, media, and parents
  • prepare for her first period and support one another in their bleeding time
  • get to know each other really well; well enough to dare to speak their innermost fears and heartfelt hopes
  • (only if the time is right) talk of dating, safe sex, diets, drinking, drugs, cutting, exam pressures and other teen concerns
  • share her experiences
  • laugh and cry and dance and feast
  • find mentors
  • and in time become a mentor herself.

A year later we finish with a celebration and those dozen girls are full of affection for one another and feel well-prepared for what lies ahead.

“At first I didn’t think I’d like it, but it’s brilliant, we talk about things, really talk, so you realise that others feel the same way.”

“I’ve made friends for life I’d say.” 

“I was nervous about growing up – I’m not now.”

“You can ask anything.”

“We’ve had loads of fun, and learned stuff but it hasn’t felt like learning.”

“It got me thinking about who I want to be – what I want to do with my life.”

Every girl needs a circle of women, and the company of other girls, with whom to learn about womanhood.  Some girls are lucky to live in communities that naturally provide this female support.  Many girls are not so fortunate.  When families have busy lives, lived far from extended family, and children spend most of their time in the company of children, then a girls’ group can fill the gap.

I wish that coming-of-age groups were commonplace, then girls would expect it as their right, rather than needing their mothers to encourage them to try it out.

We focus on teaching our children algebra, tectonic plate movements, and what befell the wives of King Henry VIII, and then leave the fundamental issues of maturation up to chance chats with family, the modeling of soaps and films, and the immature influence of peers.  We give swimming lessons before diving into the sea, and driving lessons are mandatory before taking to the roads solo – so why not insist on structured adult support in the preparation of our children for adulthood?  Most religions and many tribes still recognise the importance of guiding our children safely towards adulthood, and offer them a rite of passage while they are actively engaged in this maturation process; but we have lost sight of it, blinded by the chase for qualifications.  I feel sad to find myself in a culture that often values grades, awards, and medals over relationships, and developing a healthy sense of self.

The more ‘developed’ we become, the more we abandon our teenagers and leave them to invent their own idealizations for adulthood – and to make their own markers to prove their adulthood (often using drink, sex, driving, and other risk-taking).


Girls look to the women in their lives to give them a sense of what it is like to be a woman.  The women they like, they emulate; and the women they don’t like, they strive to be different from.

Many girls find themselves with only one woman who knows them well, their own mother.  If fortunate, a girl will also have a smattering of aunties, grandmothers, godmothers, cousins, friend’s mothers and mother’s friends who know her and care for her.  She may also have a special teacher, tutor, or coach.  Even then, many girls rarely have the opportunity of hearing women speak of their dreams, their passions, their relationships and their bodies.  And yet, we want our girls to find their own futures, to know what is important to them, to discover what they love to do, to form firm friendships, and to like themselves well enough.  Too often seeking these vital goals are left to chance, or left in the hands of schools, or the influence of social media.


Rites for Girls has an free trial session for any girl aged 10-12yrs (in year 6 or 7) who might be interested to join the next Girls Journeying Together group.  Girls come from London, Brighton and all over Sussex and Kent.

Girls’ Journeying Together
– a year-long exploration
with a small group of girls your age

Who?      Pre-teen girls; aged 10-12yrs (in year 6 and 7)
When?    Monthly, 3 hours at the weekend, starting in May.
Where?   Forest Row, Sussex
When?    Free trial session with Mums:  10:30-12:30pm  Sat 30th April 2016

Provisional dates: TBC

I am a trained facilitator, youth guidance worker, counsellor, 5 Rhythms movement teacher, and a mother of three.

To book or ask more contact Kim 01342 810505  ☙



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Photo: 123RF by Lisa Young

Posted on 9 May 2014
Musings: Coming of age, Parenting girls
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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Prepare well for exams – but still have a life!

Alexandre Zveiger

Jess can’t seem to get down to her revision.  Her teachers know that she is a capable student who has the potential to do well, but at this rate she’s not going to do as well as she could.  Jess finds revision boring and Facebook so much more attractive.  It’s not that she wants to do badly, she just can’t quite summon up the motivation to put the hours in.

We want our children to well in exams – their best hopefully.
The pressure to succeed is so high – there seem to be fewer routes from education into the world of work, and exams can seem to form a formidable gateway.
We don’t want to have to hassle them to study – it damages good relations.
We don’t want them to be too stressed – anxious – or unhappy.
We don’t want them to define their sense of worth on the results of these tests.
We want them to increase their choices by getting good results.

Anna feels defeated.  No matter how hard she tries she just can’t concentrate.  She reads the same passage over and over, none of it going in.  She knows she’s not going to do brilliantly but she’d like to at least pass them all.  None of the subjects interest her much, she’d much rather be playing in her band. She’s eating a lot of chocolate.  Anna goes for days without seeing her friends because she feels like she should be revising, and then goes out and stays out because she can’t face the books back home.

As parents we want to help our children through the intense exam period – but it’s not always clear how to help them to keep perspective, not to get too stressed, and still work hard.
How to maintain focus in the weeks of revision and sustain it in the exam period?
What to do on the days when it all seems impossible, or pointless, or hopeless?
Sometimes our children don’t find our input helpful; or don’t want it to come from us or their teachers.

Julie has always done well in school and she is expected to earn good results in her exams.  At the beginning of the year she drew up a revision timetable and she’s been sticking to it.  But she’s been having trouble sleeping, lying in bed worrying about not living up to expectations.  She’s feeling like she’s forgetting it as fast as learning it.  Anxious.  She’s lost her appetite and now she’s losing weight.  Secretly she quite likes this slimming down but her friends have noticed and are starting to say she’s too skinny.  The only time she really feels calm is when she is running on the treadmill at the gym – which she is beginning to do rather too often.  She’s so worried that she’ll do badly – anything less than straight As is going to feel like failing.  It doesn’t matter what her parents say to reassure her, she just doesn’t seem to stop worrying.

Luckily for me, I was good at exams.
I want to help girls to get through the experience without it costing their health or well-being.
In this workshop I help girls to:-

*  find their own motivation
*  figure out specifically how they learn
*  learn how to take care of themselves and their mental well-being

I do pass on a few tools and techniques to optimise a girl’s performance but mostly we focus on getting into the right headspace and finding balance, so she’ll be the best she can can.

Prepare well for exams
– but still have a life!

a two hour session of sane exam prep
with a small group of girls your age

limited spaces – book now

“Course I wanted to do well, but I couldn’t quite get down to my revision.
This motivated me but not with guilt.”

“I’ve got rid of that nagging feeling
like I should always be doing more work.” 

“Exams used to mean not being able to sleep, eating wrong, and feeling stressed
– it’s not so bad now.”

“This will be useful whenever I’m stressed out, not just at exams.”

“It was fun, even though it was about exams, it was fun.”

Who?      Teen girls
When?    Saturday 28th March, 2:30-4:30pm
Where?   Forest Row, Sussex
Cost?      £15

I am a trained facilitator, youth guidance worker, counsellor,
5 Rhythms movement teacher, and a mother of three.

To book or ask more: Kim  ☙

Rites for Girls exam support 2015

Photo: 123RF by Alexandre Zveiger

Posted on 12 February 2015
Musings: Parenting girls, Parenting teenagers
Tags: , , , , , ,

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Listening to your little one so she’ll carry on telling you stuff when she’s big

I remember when my daughter was little she used to chatter on and on and had all manner of important things to tell me – at great length.  I’d listen, but sometimes I felt like I didn’t have the time. I had meals to cook, and work to do, and other children to attend to, and, and, and…

Then one day when she was in full flow I caught myself mentally list-making and I stopped.

Brotherton freeimages

I stopped and I knelt down so that I could be on her level and I asked her to start again, so that I could hear her properly right from the beginning.  She smiled and let out a huge sigh – like I was finally giving her what she’d been trying to get from me – my undivided attention.

Mothers of teens often ask me how to get their daughters to talk to them – and I have a number of suggestions.  Often I write what I most need to hear – and today I want to remind myself (and you) to listen to your daughter when she is little and don’t stop listening to her – even when what she is telling you seems inconsequential or dull.  Don’t stop listening and then she is less likely to stop telling you things as she grows older.  And when she’s older, listen to her even when what she is saying seems trivial.  How you listen when she is telling you the mundane things will determine how willing she is to tell you about more sensitive things.

I remember how my daughter would come to me for a hug and would pull me up with, “No, a full-attention cuddle!” and I knew to drop everything, even drop the busyness inside my own head, and give her all of me.

Children know.  They know if you’re really paying attention.  And they know if you are listening supportively or critically.  So if you really want your daughter to talk to you when she’s a teen, pay really good attention to whatever she has to say to you.

Photo: freeimages by Brotherton


Posted on 15 January 2015
Musings: Parenting girls

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A letter alerting you to your first period!


Wouldn’t it be great if you got a letter delivered to you that gave you notice: “Congratulations!  Your first period is due to start next week on Wednesday at 5:30pm” so you could make sure you’d be home, have pads to hand, and someone to hold your hand or to celebrate with – or a good book to quietly snuggle up with under your duvet?  You’d be prepared.

Seeing blood in your knickers for the first time can be a shock because until now blood has meant pain and that there’s something wrong.  In time your monthly bleed can be a reassurance, your body’s way of showing that everything is right.  It also reminds us that we are special.  Girls and women who are menstruating can nurture life.  Your first period is an important event – and a time to feel proud.

It is quite normal to feel a whole mixture of feelings when it comes – fear, excitement, nervous, unsure, embarrassed, proud, grown up, relief, tearful, happy.  Some girls can’t wait to start, others are more reluctant.  Whether you feel ready or not, it is good to make sure that you are a bit prepared.  Get some pads and carry one in a little purse in your bag.  Talk to older girls or women to find out about what to expect, or read about it.

When you start, if you don’t feel like telling your parents straight away, find someone else to talk to.  You are joining a very large club – of all the girls and woman around the world who bleed monthly.  It is the most natural thing in the world and lots of women remember what it was like to start and would want to support you.

You can have some idea of when your first period will come because it will be roughly two and a half years after the first signs of puberty.  Anytime between eight and sixteen years old is normal and around thirteen is average.  So if you first noticed breast buds at the age of ten, then you’re likely to be around twelve and a half when you have your first bleed.

The first time you may just find dark brown stains in your underwear or it may flow more and be bright red.  We bleed only about two to three tablespoons of blood each month, the rest is lining shed from the uterus, which still only amounts to about a third of a cup (maximum one cup) dribbling out over 3 to 8 days.  Although your period will end up coming monthly, sometimes you can have one and then not another one for a while, and it may take some time before it comes regularly.

You have a number of choices for how to catch the blood – reusable or disposable pads, tampons, and cups or sponges for the more adventurous.  If you are caught out, you can always wrap toilet paper several times around your hand to make an absorbent wad to put in your underwear.

Many girls and women find their monthly bleed to be a good thing, a cleansing, creative time of knowing more clearly how they feel.  Some experience cramping, or moodiness, and need to find out about what to eat and how to take care of themselves to ease this.

So, even without the letter giving you advance warning of your first period, you can still get yourself ready.  Even if what you’d like to reply is, “Actually, Sunday afternoon at 3pm would be better.”  or  “I’d like to postpone to next year.”  think about how you would like to celebrate your first period – it could be a special meal with family, or a gathering of close friends, or a private treat by yourself in your bedroom.  It’s something to feel proud of.

Photo: 123RF by Ragnarocks

Posted on 24 November 2014
Musings: Parenting girls

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Money Matters

Wittaya Puangkingkaew

Do you pay your kids to do housework?  Or homework?

There are so many ways to teach our children about money.  Of course the most powerful lessons come from what they see us doing.  Their observations of how money is spent and saved, controlled and enjoyed, have long-reaching effects on how they will approach money.  If you want to teach good money management, check that yours is good first.

I have heard of so many different systems that work for families:
Some give pocket-money, but some of it must be earned by doing chores.
Some pay extra for exceptional jobs undertaken, mowing lawn, washing car, painting skirting boards etc.
Some give a monthly allowance which must be used to cover all clothing, cosmetic, and entertainment needs.
Some expect their child to take part-time employment to pay for their extras.
Some hand out money to cover expenses as they arise.
Some give pocket-money but it is docked for bad behaviour.
Many do a mixture of some of these.

A mentor of mine once said that most unresolved issues either lie with money, sex or power; so it is worth giving some attention to what you are consciously or unconsciously teaching your child about these things.

Who has control over the money in your home?  Who spends it?  Who manages saving?  Who earns it?  How is money managed?  Is it kept private or spoken about?  Is the family living within their means?  Is there enough money?  Is money fun, worrying, appreciated, scarce?  The answers to these questions will tell you something about what you are teaching your children about money.

Society, peers, and advertising all create expectations but home sets a powerful example.  You can live in a materialistic culture and still raise children who treasure what they have, who do not expend energy constantly yearning for more, who do their chores without needing to be paid because it contributes to family life, who have their pocket money assured no matter what their behaviour, and who have an understanding of what their family is able to afford.

There are studies showing that paying children demotivates them.  And evidence which demonstrates that punishing children demotivates them.  And research that supports the idea that strong, respectful, communicative relationships between parent (or mentor) and child are what gives a child the strongest sense of their self-worth and motivation to be all that they can be.

And remember, most fond childhood memories arise from you spending time with your child, not money.

Photo: 123RF by Wittaya-Puangkingkaew
Posted on 8 November 2014
Musings: Parenting girls, Parenting teenagers
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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Exam Pressure

The exams results are out!  Tribulation and tragedy abound.


I worry for our children.

When did we start to think that this was a good way to educate?  Focussing so completely on exams, all teaching geared specifically for taking these exams, limiting learning to a narrow curriculum, and judging everyone on how well they test during a few days at the end of it all.

It seems to me to be an education that does not serve our children.

I look at our education system and I don’t see a vibrant, exciting, learning environment.  I see children stressed by exam pressure.  Teens forced to rise earlier than is naturally healthy for them. Children having to sit for hour upon hour, studying a series of seemingly unrelated subjects, required to switch their attention from subject to subject every hour.

One exams fits all, tests all. Because we don’t trust our teachers, what they must teach is prescribed; because we don’t trust our schools, they too are tested and ranked against one another; students are coached for exam success with little leeway to explore their own interests; and despite all the research that demonstrates how much we are failing our children, we persist.  Testing everyone to tell us how well we are doing.

We are teaching them:

*  Fear.  If you don’t do as we say, you will fail – in exams and in life.
*  Compete against each other – you will be ranked against your peers.
*  Don’t collaborate – we call that cheating.
*  Everything stands and falls on how able you are to regurgitate what you know in a ninety minute period in several months time.

We are impressed when we hear a child demonstrate their knowledge by spouting facts

How does this prepare our children for adult life?

What I wish for my children is simply this:

To want to learn.
To know how they learn best.
To have confidence in their ability to learn.
To have enough free time for their own learning.

This is an approach that will serve them well

I do not want them to acquire facts and jump through hoops out of fear.

I want them to work together, using all the resources available to find information, asking guidance from experts, and helping each other.

I want them to be able to welcome mistakes as part of the learning process.

I want their own assessment of their progress to matter more than any others’ assessment.

Then I feel they are preparing well for the world that they live in and their adult life to come.

Photo: 123RF by Vladimir Voronin
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Posted on 18 August 2014
Musings: Parenting girls

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