So we decided to have a get together (definitely not calling it a partaaaay in front of the boys!). It was for my daughter and her cousins- we thought it was about time we celebrated that they were growing up.
We based a lot of the discussions around the book featured in the picture above titled ‘Coming Of Age’ by Hedaya Hartford.
It is essentially a Muslim girl’s guide for getting her period. However it contains lots of funny anecdotes from lots of women about how they felt when they started, what kind of problems they encountered, embarrassing situations etc.
We hadn’t got the girls together like this in a while and we made the most of it- we ordered pizza and picked up a suncatcher from our local Hobbycraft store for a glass painting session. It was really therapeutic and the girls seemed to really relax and open up in this positive, loving environment. We talked about boys, peer pressure and generally had a fab bonding session.
I think it’s so important for children growing up to have a platform, a time and place, where they are heard. I remember reading in that fantastic book called ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk’ by Faber and King, that older girls usually look for a role model, other than their mum to look up to and talk with about personal issues. This session helped us to remind the girls that we were there for them, no matter what.
Also, I think it made me realise that just like we need our friends for validation, company and self care, so do our teenage daughters. The female bonding was beautiful to see (especially since we live in a house full of boys!). We vowed to do this more often. Hopefully we’ll benefit from each other’s good company and help to resolve situations the girls come across at school and home that they would otherwise find difficult to navigate.
We talked about the ‘X Plan’. I had been sent an article recently about how important it was to give a child a ‘way out’ of a difficult situation. The author, Burt Fulks works with vulnerable children once a week. He says:
Recently I asked these kids a simple question: “How many of you have found yourself in situations where things started happening that you weren’t comfortable with, but you stuck around, mainly because you felt like you didn’t have a way out?”
They all raised their hands.
Every single one of them.
This excerpt is taken from Burt Fulks‘ blog. Follow this link to see the full article.
His idea is that if a child ever finds themselves in a situation they’re not completely comfortable in and need a way out, they need to text ‘X’ to a parent. They will then receive a phone call, feigning an emergency, calling them home. It’s basically a way to leave a bad situation and save face with their peers.
Peer pressure is a palpable thing and something we all should be aware of. I thought this was a fantastic way for the children to realise that we understand how difficult it is to resist and that they’re not alone when they find themselves in these situations.
Hopefully they won’t ever need it, but it’s there all the same. I think it conveys a beautiful message of backing up our children and being happy to rescue them no matter what situation they find themselves in.
My initial instinct as my own children were growing up was to mollycoddle them; to protect them from the outside world by limiting interaction and therefore the bad influence. But now that they’re a little bit older, I’ve realised how impossible that is. Impossible and futile. I feel the best thing we can do now is teach them how to deal with people in the best way. Teach them right and wrong and then hope (and pray really hard!!) that everything works out!
What about yourself? Have you any advice to share on helping children navigate this world as they’re growing up? Please do share!