Puberty is private!

I have found adolescence to be a time when a girl particularly needs to have someone older who she can talk to, someone who is not her mother.  This is not because there is anything wrong with her own mother, or their relationship, it is just that many girls want the distance that another woman brings.

The girls in my girls’ groups have taught me the importance of having mentors. These girls are girls who have close and open relationships with their mothers.  These are girls whose mothers listen, who spend time with their daughters, who are interested in what they think and how they feel.  And yet, there are things they tell me, or discuss in our girls’ groups, that they choose not to share with their mothers.

There is something so personal and intimate about going through puberty.  It is natural for a girl to feel private – to want to hold it close, while she grows accustomed to the newness.  Girls are not withholding, they just do not want those close to them always to be involved, not just yet.  At the same time, girls still want the reassurance of talking to someone who cares.  This is where a mentor is of such benefit – not to replace a mother, but to offer ‘other-motherness’.  The mentor relationship between mentor and girl is as varied as the variety of women who take a mentoring role.  It can be soft and gentle, feisty and fun, tough and confronting, cool and casual.  It can give a girl the chance to hear her own thoughts, to figure out her own solutions, to test out her own ideas, to rehearse how she might express herself to others, to feel wisely supported, to be tenderly challenged, to be close to a woman who is not her mother.

In adolescence, peers are crucial – what they think, and say, and do.

But don’t let peers become the main influence in your daughter’s life.

Give her mature influences too – with you in girls together time, and with other older women.

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Posted on 22 January 2013
Musings: Parenting girls, Parenting teenagers
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4 or so comments

4 Responses to Puberty is private!

  1. Julia says:

    Just happened to take a peak for the first time in ages but how apt that the topic is bout mentoring! You have been and continue to be that to Molly (aged 14), in your role as godmother. Your recent advice about the twilight series, which has taken her to a private world that only those that know the contents can participate! Thank you for ‘being’ there!
    Much love

  2. Mairi Stones says:

    Great idea Kim, and have you any suggestions as to how that might be “arranged”. I can see that my daughter lacks that and her peers are everything, so how to introduce/cultivate a mentor. Can your girls group share who and how?
    Mairi X

    • Kim says:

      Is there an auntie, or friend’s mother, or neighbour, or friend of yours that your daughter has a special connection with? You may then need to invite those women to take a deeper role in your daughter’s life (as we often fear to tread into another’s parenting); or this may simply be communicated by creating opportunities for your daughter to spend time in their company. Support all ways of strengthening the bond, using social media as well. You are the best judge of whether a conversation with your daughter about the benefit of mentors, and to identify possible women, is appropriate. Sometimes just becoming more conscious of the value of mentors can open our eyes to those possibilities. I have written more that may help here: http://ritesforgirls.com/girls-need-older-girls/

    • Kim says:

      I asked some of the girls in my girls group and there was a variety of responses. Quite a few felt close to their friend’s mothers; others had aunts or mother’s friends who they felt understood them. What many said is that even when they had identified who they felt they might turn to, the thought of it still felt awkward, and it needed a conversation from their Mum to that person inviting them into the role of mentor. That made it easier because then the woman-mentor made opportunities for contact.

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