How One Local Mom and Her Daughter Are Reaching Out to a Community in Need
Kendall was in fifth grade when she started coming home crying because “Ashley” had been mean to her. As heartbroken as I was for my daughter, I knew my instinct to call Ashley’s mother wasn’t the answer. Even if I could help mitigate the Ashley situation, I knew there would always be another Ashley waiting around the corner. So, I focussed instead on fortifying our daughter, arming her with the tools she needed to get through this and survive all the “Ashleys” that might follow. And I wanted to make sure that no other family would ever have the same bullying conversations about Kendall that we were having about Ashley.
As a psychologist and parenting educator, I’ve been fortunate to work with many kinds of parents and ‘tweens. But nothing in my clinical experienced prepared me for Kendall’s school years here in Highlands Ranch. The things that girls would say to and about one another were difficult to hear.
It was my husband who ultimately suggested I write a book, using my background and my first-hand experience to offer other parents professional insight and advice.
I knew the ‘tween years were hard and that for girls they can be brutal. Developmental changes can start around age eight or nine when girls are seeking peer approval but aren’t yet able to balance that social yearning with the need to be kind. When we parents first hear about the girl-on-girl drama, our gut reaction might be to “make” the other girls stop being mean, urge the teachers to eliminate this behavior in the classroom or tell other parents to raise better kids. Those things aren’t likely to help, but there is a solution: you.
Kendall and I ultimately wrote that book together, which was especially meaningful. Between Baby Dolls and Boyfriends: How to Successfully Navigate Your Daughter’s Tween Years shares tips and encouragement for the challenges of the ‘tween years, and each chapter ends with insight from Kendall’s perspective.
Kendall is 16 now and joins me for many of my speaking engagements on the topic of parenting ‘tweens. This opportunity to reach out to other families in our community shows me that we’re a community with heart, hope and the drive to make life better for our kids. There are so many external forces that affect our ‘tween girls, but the biggest factor in helping them thrive during these years is you!
Our gut reaction might be to ‘make’ the other girls stop being mean, urge the teachers to eliminate this behavior in the classroom, or tell the other parents to raise better kids.