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.