Thursday, December 23, 2010


"More than 20% of Britons expect a family bust up this Christmas, according to a survey.
The poll carried out by BBC Radio 5 live found 22% of those asked did expect a family argument during the festive period although the majority - 77% - expected harmony around the Christmas tree.
It also found that 13% of the respondents had stopped speaking to an immediate family member during the past year.
The survey - released on Monday - also found that 97% of people said their families made them feel happy whilst 60% said their jobs made them content.
However, Christmas turned out to be the favourite time for only 2 out of 5 respondents to the poll."

"ONE IN FIVE EXPECT FAMILY XMAS FIGHT" Dec 6 2010.  The Sydney Morning Herald.

It's about to HAPPEN - Christmas celebrations - sooner for some (like us here in New Zealand), than others (those on the west coast of America).
The gathering with family, the planned and created food, the much thought about and bought or grabbed gifts, the organized observance of traditions - these four elements seem to be a common part of celebrating Christmas. 
But in adding the doing of these elements to the already end-of-year tired lives of many, can be just too much, and the hopes of happy heartiness, the expectation of exciting experiences and memories, can be blown apart as families reunite and get together.
Some have been apart for most of the past year. Some have been apart for years. Some barely know each other. Families have often grown with new members - different to the 'old stock', which can bring new 'flavours'. And of course there's the dreams that have been anticipated and hoped for for weeks before the event.
For most families there will be some expression of a "family bust up", whether full scale or mild and kept in check.
So how can we head into this day of celebration and prevent ending it in a huge mess?
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS  taking the initiative, and forgiving those in YOUR family and beyond, for the disappointments and hurts they have caused you.
Christmas is the perfect time to do this as it is the season which  is the start of the story of the greatest demonstration ever of love, which came through forgiveness. At Christmas, Jesus was born as a baby. This is the beginning  of the huge historic story. This is where the true celebration all begins.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


"My friend Sophie, 46, who runs her own design company and is a single mother to 2 boys aged nine and eleven,.....has been single for 6 years, since her husband left her for another women.
Blonde, attractive and kind, she hasn't been on a date since he walked out.
'I have absolutely no idea how to be a women anymore,' she says, 'Because I run my business my home and make all the decisions about the boys, I feel totally unfeminine.'
'I'm terrified of dating as I have no idea how to behave. I would love a partner but I feel unattractive, untrusting, unsexy and completely alone.'
That, of course is the crux for many of us.
We honestly believed that if we worked hard, we could have it all and more.
Yet so many of us have ended up lonely, exhausted and broken-hearted, with far less of what we bargained for.... Clearly, men and women are increasingly out of sync, and the key could be in learning to be re-balanced ourselves as women and reclaim our essential softness."
FAST TRACK TO FEMININITY: Why Competing With Men has Left Women Out of Touch With Their Feminine Side . by Anna Pasternak.  Mail Online.

This is PART 4 and the last part of "WHAT DAUGHTERS NEED FROM THEIR MOTHERS".

The above quote could be used as a discussion starter into many subjects and directions. You may wonder how this applies to what mums need to teach their daughters.
I want to take from this quote the thread of "femininity", and discuss the need of it in mums and daughters lives alike.
As our girls grow into teenagers and emerge into adult women, many have an unclear view of what being feminine IS. It regularly gets confused with being sexy, or being an old fashioned thing ladies of the past practiced. As girls, women or females ~ all of us are born with feminine aspects as a part of our personal character and being.
"A wise person once said that it's easier to build a healthy child than repair an adult. The best way to build emotionally healthy children who accept and enjoy their gender is for us as parents (grandparents or teachers) to affirm boys in their masculinity and girls in their femininity."  Sue Bohlin : Boys are From Mars, Girls are From Venus:Raising Gender Healthy Kids.

IS FEMININITY ~ to feel like one of the mythological women in Botticelli's 
                                 painting "Spring", in their semi transparent, veil-like
                             ~ having dreadlocked hair piled high on one's head?
                             ~ being a princess or ballerina in pink with frills and bows
                             ~ sporting a tattoo or Maori Moko (tattoo from a Maori
                                 woman's lip to chin)?
                             ~ the feeling from a full makeover with new hairstyle?
                             ~ to stretch and lengthen one's ear lobes as women of
                                 Papua New Guinea did in the past?
                             ~ high heels and nail polish on?
                             ~ to live bare breasted as the women of South America 
                                 and other nations lived in the past?
                      YES all the above at some time in history and in some cultures
                      have been seen as feminine.
IS FEMININITY ~ exposing one's midriff with diamante crusted belly 
                                 button stud?
                             ~ to play 'dumb' 'cute' 'fragile'?
                             ~ just about clothing or only wearing dresses?
                             ~ about attracting men, or about how you feel about
                                 yourself, or a bit of both?

If I asked 10 or 100 women to show me what they thought femininity was, I'd have 10 or 100 different answers.
Here are some descriptions I found of what an UNFEMININE women is like. You may or may not agree with them.
* don't flirt with men              * don't wear makeup
* have an "acute need of affection"     *autonomous
* controls everything      * see relationships as business transactions
* competes with men    * often feels more masculine than feminine
* trampled (women's) core femininity into the ground    *soul less
* independent    * "have become warriors, feisty and aggressive"
* total orientation to achieving     * addiction to perfectionism
* look tough, as though they have it all together, "but really they are well-                                      
   defended because they do not want to get hurt or be vulnerable".
In reading this list I hope you are kindly challenged in finding areas you need to consider working on - attitudes and behaviour patterns you practice that are not helpful.

Now for the descriptions of what a FEMININE women is like. I'm sure there'll be some here you like and possibly some you don't.
* they are intuitive                 * they are compassionate
* they listen to their men       * they are nurturers
* "but to be feminine, at some level you have got to be open. Being open 
    allows connection ..... and the other feminine gifts."
* letting things "unfold or happen"    * they trust their men
* they are open for others input and contributions
* they are completely comfortable with who they are
* they feel they are a positive part of a team (at home in the workplace 
    and relationally) - rather than being the only or dominant player.
* they feel totally natural and sense great satisfaction in expressing their
* they are relaxed and fulfilled in their sexuality and their expression of it.

Louise C "Forget Femininity" at Taken in Hand, says "In any case, I feel that 'femininity' whatever it is, must be compatible with behaving like a rational human being, surely a woman does not have to check her brains in at the door in order to be considered feminine". Certainly not! Femininity is nothing to do with burying your mind. As seen from the above descriptions the full expression of femininity is found in relation to men/masculinity. 

Psychologist, Jeff Allen, says " can not have true success or a successful relationship without the balance of masculine and feminine: The reason career women feel lonely within themselves and often have a deep sense of failure is because they are not connected to their hearts .... I'm not saying career women should chuck it all away, but if they connected to things that really matter to them, if they start to appreciate little beautiful things every day - literally stop and smell the roses - then what they will have to offer will be really quite profound. " Jeff Allen also encourages women to stop competing with men, particularly relationally, as it "is totally destructive" and unfeminine.

Daughters need mums who are living examples of femininity so they will feel safe, normal and confident to develop their own femininity. How can you do this?
"Femininity is all about being relaxed with yourself....about authenticity". It is not a forced female or girly 'look' where you suddenly wear high heels, mini skirts, florals and silks, or show lots of leg or cleavage. "If it feels false, DON'T do it". All women need to find their version of being relaxed about themselves, being authentic, including your daughter as she grows up.
"Femininity is about an internal experience with yourself and clothes are about the external appearance." So what we wear can be a reminder for us of who we are. Many of us are of the habit of "bringing out femininity for the occasion, as opposed to being feminine whatever the occasion". As we attempt to work at this we can encourage our daughter to do likewise, in her own expression of being feminine.
Of course it helps girls to be part of conversations about what is feminine, and pointing out examples of femininity around them. This will shape their personal views and choices along with your family's ethics, values and world view.
Within a family of girls who all receive the same upbringing there will be different expressions of femininity - some you will agree with, others you may not. :CAUTION: It is natural and normal for girls to experiment to find their version of femininity, particularly as teenagers. Rather than over reacting, our job is to 'hang in there' and 'major on the majors , minor on the minors'. Ask yourself if this an issue worth 'dying' for? Give her space, time, respect of individuality and lots of love.
I have four daughters, each unique in their expressions of femininity and different to mine. I think that is 'healthy', just as my definition of femininity is very different to my own mother's.
Our living example of femininity and our conversations with our daughters can have a positive benefit into their futures as women.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS  When do YOU feel feminine? Maybe this is a question you should ask your daughter this week, and share with her your answer too.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WEEK 26 QU0TE 26

"At least 10 children have fathers trapped in the Pike River coal mine - . . . . More than 10 others go anxiously through their primary school routines while their fathers prepare to enter the burning, gassy, potentially explosive mine to rescue their mates, trapped underground since the explosion on Friday afternoon. . . . .
At local schools, all appears normal, at least at a distance. But on a closer look, everyone is affected.
A 13-year-old girl said her brother was friends with the young trapped miner, Joseph Dunbar, 17. Her friend has an uncle stuck underground. She is chatty, cheery and seemingly in good spirits - but that is not the full story.
'You have to keep strong for everyone,' she said, and for a moment the gravity of the situation flashed across her face. . . .
Grey Main Primary School principal Mandy O'Sullivan said 12 Pike River miners had children at her school, though none were trapped.
Ten others are part of Mines Rescue, ready to enter the hazardous mine when conditions clear. . . .
'At this stage, the students have been exceptionally brave in a time of uncertainty,' Ms O'Sullivan said.
The children had been reassured and encouraged to talk honestly about the situation, and they had not been overdramatic, she said. '[But] they're anxious like the rest of us, really.'
It was important that parents sent their children to school and made sure they had consistency, she said.
Many parents kept their children home on Monday, but most turned up yesterday. . . 
'We feel it's important to keep routines as normal as possible.' "
THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD Wednesday 24 2010. Children Still to Realize Miners' Plight : Michael Dickison

The tragic sadness of the Pike River mine disaster over this past week here in New Zealand, has been another reminder of REAL life, with its wide gamut of experiences - emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Of course this mine disaster is at one extreme of life experiences. None-the-less it does throw out a challenge to us as parents to question ourselves as to if we bring our children into contact with the extremes that life can have. Or are we only working at keeping things 'tidy' and comfortable?
This past week I have been asking myself - how would my children today, deal with the loss of a father, a brother or close loved-one?
Pike River coal chief executive, Peter Whittall and police superintendent Gary Knowles, have been examples of strength of character to marvel at. In all world catastrophes throughout time, we have known similar calibre. But would my children - even as adults, be amongst that group of 'resilient' people?

How do we as parents, 'build' these aspects into our children's character? 
Maybe there is help in thinking on the comments that we have heard many times in the last days on our TV news programs. Many people on "the Coast"  when asked how they will cope, have talked of the region's 'resilience', that has come from living and working through previous trials and difficulties of the past. Possibly this is a clue, a help, a question for us as parents to think on. Are we allowing the natural smaller difficulties of life that come our way, especially come our children's way, to be a positive practice ground for their future?

I'd love your thoughts and ideas here.
What do you think?
How can we in practical terms equip our children to 'do well' in a huge, life-changing tragedy?


Thursday, November 11, 2010


"My father died when I was three, leaving my mother to raise three kids on her own. My mother was adamant about raising her kids to be independent, self-sufficient members of society. . . 
My mother would punctuate each comment with the reminder that she had to figure it out after my father died. She did not want her children to face the same fate . . . She felt cheated because he had left so soon. I knew. . . that my mother had filled me with her anger and sadness over losing my father. I realized I had never been told by my mother what to expect from a man, so all this time I had been flying blind.
What about these women who had to grow up hearing complaints that their father was never around. What about these mothers who have faced a bitter divorce? Are they projecting all their drama on their kids as well? Has this created a generation of hurt, angry women who only know how to be single?. . . ."
"Mothers Raising Girls to be Single" : Audrey Irvine.  May 6  2010.


A.  Attitude to Men
Audrey Irvine's account describes  how her mother's experience and attitude towards her husband, affected Audrey's attitude to men. Later in this article she speaks of the change in her attitude to men that came three weeks before her mother's death, when she talked at length about her husband's great humor and good nature. For the first time Audrey realized her mother's fears, caused by the loss of her husband as a young mum, had affected how she represented men to her daughter. Mum's fears and disappointments had been transferred to daughter Audrey.

A mother sends clear information to her daughter about the importance, the value and her personal attitude about men. It is communicated through her actions, her words, her looks, her behaviour, her priorities towards her husband, her sons, and men and boys who regularly are a part of their life.

These sometimes subtle, unconscious actions are powerful directives to a watching daughter.

Of course there are times when all husbands disappoint, irritate or annoy their wives, just as we do likewise to them. The point is as Audrey Irvine made, that as mothers we need to be sure to communicate to our daughter, the full  picture of who their father is. The constant put-down, criticism and registration of irritation through body language, facial expressions, behaviour and words, give a complete negative about men to our daughters.   (You may like to read William Leith's comments on dads being represented in children's literature as hopeless and useless, in my post  "Absent Fathers"  WEEK 14  QUOTE 14) 

Daughters need to see, hear and observe the full story of who their dad is through our reactions to him, which form her future attitude to men in general.

If you find you are prone to too much criticism of your daughter's father, you can work at adding a true positive comment about him to the conversation.

B.  Flexibility for Multi - 'Occupations'
Women of most cultures through out history have lived through the changing sequence of 'occupations' or 'seasons'. A woman's life does not stand still. Along with these changing occupations, her life has several parts or strands simultaneously moving along, merging and diverging all at the same time. Some women are very successful in living a full, busy and humming-along lifestyle, while others of us feel it is more like a chaotic traffic-jam.

How can a mother equip her daughter to be flexibly prepared for the multi-occupations and the several stranded life that is ahead for her?

It is through teaching life skills to her from childhood and through their teenage years.
 ~  how to plan, grow, shop for and cook food - from small beginnings to the real deal. . . 
 ~  how to organize, maintain, tidy and clean - a drawer, a cupboard, a room, the house. . . 
 ~  how to learn about a new job, to assist someone doing the job, to independently do the job, to 
        teach the job to another. . .
 ~  how to choose, buy, mend, wash and care for clothes. . .
 ~  how to earn, save, invest, spend and give away money. . .

In teaching these things to our girls, we give them a great asset whatever they become in the future.

The regular practice of multi tasking, the awareness of several things going on at once and learning discernment to decide what IS important or needs attention now, are rare but much-needed skills.
A girl brought up fully involved in real-life jobs and responsibilities of a family, learns such skills.
Here she can practice and develop the flexibility to adjust to the many aspects of her future role as  a           career woman,      a wife,       a woman that works,     a mother,      a voluntary aid worker,       a support person,        a combination of any of the above    and MORE.

C.  Learning About Sex.
Generally speaking women seem to be more open in discussing sex with their daughters, than are dads with their sons. Our culture is obsessed with the subject and unfortunately sex seems to be made a part of things that actually have nothing to do with it. As a result the intended beauty of sex is daily being perverted to young and old alike. 

As a mother don't leave it all to your daughter's school to do the 'educating' in this important area of life.  (If you need reasons why, read my last post, on Modesty WEEK 24  QUOTE 24)

I am personally not incredibly gifted in mathematics, so I would never attempt to educate my daughter in maths without buying a math textbook I felt would equip me to do the task. The same with talking with my daughter about sex.

Here's some suggestions ~
"The Story of Me" : Stan and Brenna Jones
"Before I was Born" : Carolyn Nystrom
"What's the Big Deal" : Stan and Brenna Jones
"Facing the Facts" : Stan and Brenna Jones
All of the books in the ATTITUDE series are great.
   "Sex with Attitude, A Relationship Handbook"
   "Hardwired, A Handbook for Growing, Inhaling and Injecting Life"
   "Attitude, A Handbook for Your Head"
The book "Ten Talks Parents Must Have with Their Children About Sex and Character" :Pepper Schwartz and Dominic Cappella, seems to be an extremely useful and popular book. It asks parents to identify their own values and views on religion and ethics and then assists you to teach these in the context of sex education with your children.

Whatever you do,  DON'T neglect being personally involved in this part of your daughter's life - she needs you there with her. The intimacy and closeness of the subject requires a mum to be prepared to lovingly discuss it with honesty and openness.  In the future both you and she will be grateful for the time you invested.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS  teach your daughter a new home skill while chatting about dad in a positive way, and if age appropriate you could talk about sex, too.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


"Female modesty is not some artificial way of  'dampening down one's allure',  nor is it ..... a mere distaste for  'skimpy swimming suits'.  It's much richer than that. Modesty is a reflex, arising naturally to help a woman protect her hopes and guide their fulfillment - specifically this hope of one man ..... Of course, along with this hope comes a certain vulnerability, because every time a man fails to stick by us, our hopes are, in a sense, dashed. This is where modesty fits in. For modesty armed this special vulnerability - not to oppress women, but with the aim of putting them on an equal footing with men. The delay modesty created, not only made it more likely that women could select men who would stick by them, but in turning lust into love, it changed men from uncivilized males who ran after as many sexual partners as they can get, to men who really wanted to stick by one woman."
Wendy Shalit : "A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue"
I highly recommend reading Wendy Shalit's "wise, fresh and funny" book.


Today modesty is definitely a word and practice that is out-of-fashion, in fact so OUT that most people hardly know what it is.

* Being shy and quiet.
* Covering up parts of the female body to prevent being embarrassed.
* Feeling uncomfortable from having no personal privacy.
* A style of behaviour and living seen in women in the Austin, Bronte and Trollope nineteenth 
       century dramas.
* "A kind of armour of hope."
* A frame of reference from which men accept and respect a women's "no".
* Protecting one's innocence.

How have we come to be where we are now, not just ignorant of what a word means, but ignorant of a part of our female nature? Our ignorance is so great that we have swapped the truth for a lie, so to speak, and accepted ~
     ~ the loss of going steady
    ~ the loss of personal dignity and embarrassment
     ~ the damage to the mindset of children toward sex and one another
    ~ the  'celebrate our body'  attitude of secondary schools and universities
     ~ the avalanche of  'victim'  letters of insecurity that fill glossy female magazines
   ~ "agreeing that women are sexual objects, nothing more, and exist only to gratify men"
    ~  accepting light court sentencing for rape offenders
   ~ "that virginity is something to be gotten rid of, the sooner the better and experience is what is  
            to  be valued

We have allowed this for the sake of being thought of as ~    "Independent",            "non sexist",               not sexually repressed,    "tough - just like men",           being "a bad girl" as evidence of maturity,
   having "life experience",        thinking "sex is no big deal",         "getting right to the point".

So many girls  no longer think of themselves as having value, rather they see all that along with shyness and embarrassment as irrelevant. What they think IS relevant is to be "mature", by making advances to boys, to "sleep around just like men do"  and to "get the experience"!

"Many children these days know far too much too soon, and as a result they end up in some fundamental way, not knowing - stunted and cut off from all that could be. If you are not taught that you really want 'just sex', you end up seeking much more.. The peculiar way our culture tries to prevent young women from seeking more than 'just sex', the way it attempts to rid us of our romantic hopes or ..... our embarrassment and our 'hang ups',  is a very misguided effort. It is no less than an attempt to cure womanhood itself, and in many cases it has actually put us in danger."

So are girls doomed to a future of thinking of themselves and behaving as an object? Certainly not.  A mother can impact how her daughter can precede in this area.

Girls and women have been confused by society and sex education, so mothers need to clearly counter this philosophy.
1. We first must give girls an honest view (such as presented in Wendy Shalit's book) about the culture they live in - the cons and arguments they may be tempted by, the pressure from boys to oblige them, the pressure to be cool, the lengths or amount of alcohol needed to "numb ourselves to go through with it", where this lifestyle leads, and what this lifestyle says of the value of women.

2. Our girls need to understand there is a difference between the sexual areas of their body (which are private and not to be touched or shared with others ) and other areas of the body. To have a healthy respect for their body and pride in protecting themselves.

3. We need to encourage our daughters to listen to their conscience of self and feelings of fear, to be aware of thoughts, feelings and reactions of embarrassment. 
EG.  ~ trying to cover their breasts with their arms when wearing a tight top or top with exposed cleavage when in particular company.
        ~ regularly and repeatedly needing reassurance that they "look OK".
        ~ their over rowdy behaviour receiving unwanted attention from boys.
        ~ clutching the edges of a slit skirt together on a windy day in a public place.
These are internal signs (all part of modesty) speaking to us that we are near a personal boundary, feel awkward,  and may need to reassess what we are doing. 

4. Wendy Shalit puts this point bluntly - that if young women look like a hooker, they will be thought to be one, and attract the appropriate wrong kind of men.  Repeat conversations of the first point so the consequences of this, are fully understood.

5.  We need to explain the 'misunderstanding' or the lie that so many girls have, that to sleep with a boy will solidify the relationship. The problem is that this is not how the boy sees it.  Or of living with a man in the hope of marriage.

6.  Daughters need 'open eyes' to not fall for or be conned along by the explanation of  "how it is" by the glossy magazines, the music videos, movies, word on the street, and sex education manuals. Again a repeat visit in conversation to the first point is needed.

7.  Mums have responsibility to support the romantic longings and hopes of young girls as being a natural, normal part of being female. DON'T ignore or suppress these longings as it will only send them along the route of the glossy magazine or sexually explicit novel and onto the freeway of objectivity.  This harbours more confusion in the mind of a growing girl. Instead give her examples of lives of women with wholesome romantic dignity, who are respected by men, viewed as women and not as objects, to develop her ideas on.

8.  We need to check ourselves that we are not affected by our society either in our attitudes to women or our practice. If you are a mother involved in the style of relationship described above, think hard. Consider your example, to other women, to your children especially your daughter, regardless of her age, she is learning from you. Are you being valued in the way you live? What are you saying about the worth of a woman? 

9.  As mothers, do we believe in female innocence? Do we think of our daughters as being in a time of innocence which is worth protecting from our culture's brutality? Then we have work to do.

"Understanding modesty .... invites men to consider, What's fun about forcing someone into sex in the first place? A respect for female modesty would inform the relation between the sexes so that "taking what you can get" would be an impossible way for a man to approach a woman, or to approach love generally.  The argument from external authority labels a man as evil if he date-rapes or sexually harasses a woman. From the standpoint of modesty, he is behaving abominably, but more crucially, he is really missing the point . He hasn't understood what it means to be a man."
"..... there is an emerging consensus that things have gone too far."
"There is simply nowhere else to go in the direction of immodesty, only back"

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS spend some time thinking and talking about modesty with YOUR daughter.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


"A daughter's relationship with her mother lays the foundation for her relationship with herself. From her mother she will either learn how to claim her life and be fully visible in all her relationships or how to silence herself, accept invisibility as a normal way of being, and believe that caring for others and not herself is a women's lot in life."
Rosjke Hasseldine : "The Emotional Crisis Between Mothers and Daughters"


A.  Be a Positive Example ~  Girls Thrive When Mums Thrive.
      (I) Mind Attitude.
      With the glut of varied worldwide opinion on what a "mother" is supposed to be, a high proportion of mums today feel failures, guilty, have no idea of what they are meant to be, and want the experience to be short-lived, so they can move-on to do something tangible with their life.

This effects girls of all ages as they watch their mum and attempt to fathom what's ahead for them. A mum's attitude to herself affects a girl's developing self image and shapes her future attitude to herself and how she places herself in relationship to being a woman and mother of the future.

Rosjke Hasseldine's quote above, describes a style of being a mother that always puts everyone and their needs ahead of mum. I think most mums feel they wear this style of mothering at some  point in their life, particularly when the children are all very young - the 'vendor machine' years. But in amongst the busy, non-stop years as a mum, we have a choice or power to "claim" our life or choose to "accept invisibility". One, as a teaching tool to our watching daughter, demonstrates a mother who is thriving. The other sad model, a mum who is not.


        (II) Body Image.
        "Mothers can transfer their negative body image to their daughters - mothers can boost teens self-esteem by having a positive outlook themselves. It's easy to blame the media for glamorous images of thin models whom teenage girls long to emulate. But many psychologists and eating disorders specialists believe that the greatest influence lives at home." (Refer to my previous post on Parents Have the Most Influence on Their Children - WEEK 2  QUOTE 2) "A large amount of girls' body image and self-esteem develop from interactions with their mothers - not necessarily through conversation, but often just observation." A mother's approach to eating, or food in general, the reading of food labels, her approach to wearing clothes..... are all taken in by daughters.

"A Harvard University study found that frequent dieting by mothers was associated with frequent dieting by daughters. The study, published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, also found that girls with mothers who had weight concerns were more likely to develop anxieties about their own bodies."

Carolyn Costin, spokeswoman for The National Eating Disorders Association in America, stated that their study had found that five-year-old girls whose mothers dieted were twice as likely to be aware of weight-loss strategies as girls whose mothers didn't diet.  "It's like trying on Mum's high heels. They're trying on their diets, too".

I think the point here, again is that as mothers we have a choice or power over our attitude to our body image - either we can display a positive attitude to ourselves, while we quietly or subtly work away at a diet to reduce weight, if needed, or we can steer family attention to the current diet we are on, through our conversations, along with a negative focus on ourselves. 


B.  Be a Positive Example ~  Acceptance, Approval, Being Valued  ~  Being Loved.
Daughters need to know their mums value and accept them. She needs her mum's approval, to know her mum is proud of her. She needs to know it, see it and hear her mum's proud reactions to her.

The mum who regularly registers disappointment or disapproval in her daughter's actions, sets up relational problems for her future. Disapproval can be a mum's response to a daughter's success or opportunities, possibly because the mum never had these. This is particularly true in cultures where mum has sacrificed and struggled for family futherence, and her daughter has moved with ease into opportunities of privilege. This is a case of where mums need to have a good grip on the difference of circumstances of each generation.

Being accepted, approved of and valued by mum, is in fact a desire and need of all girls to be loved by their mum.

Some mums struggle to give such love, acceptance, approval and value to their daughters, because it wasn't given to them. It is a pattern handed from one generation to the next. Maybe as a mum, if you don't feel acceptance, approval or valued as a person, you need to do some work on yourself. You can only give this type of love to your daughter if you experience it yourself. Some women who have not received it from their own mothers, have 'found it' as other people accept, approve, value and love them. Others have 'found it' in their relationship with Jesus as they consider how he accepts them.


C.  Be a Positive Example ~  Model a "BIG" life.
In 2010 most females living in our culture, have full access into any area of life. A huge variety to select from with opportunities WIDE open for our choice.

But a worrying and odd thing is occurring amongst a growing proportion of girls, in that what was hoped for and modelled by the Emmeline Pankhursts and the Kate Shepperds, who blazed the trail for women to be able to enjoy the opportunities we have today, is quickly being forgotton. Don't misunderstand me, please. I'm not thinking of Women's Liberation or Feminism, here. My concern is that an increasing percentage of girls in the western world are choosing 'comfort', 'safety' and a small life through their practice of conformity to their peers around them. 

This week a friend told me of her disappointment in the girls at her daughter's school - their lack of gumption, lack of preparedness to ripple the water. Instead they choose conformity or sameness, which results in a shallow existence.

In an earlier post WEEK 9 QUOTE 9,  I spoke of Jessica Watson, the Australian girl who was in the midst of sailing solo around the world. Jessica is an example of the opposite end of the spectrum to the girls described above. I have just finished reading Jessica's book, "True Spirit", about her amazing voyage. On one of the final pages, Jessica writes of another girl , Bethany Hamilton, who has been an inspiration to her. . . .
"Bethany was an up-and-coming surfer when she was attacked by a 14 foot tiger shark at her home break in Hawaii. She was fourteen. She had her left arm ripped off just below the shoulder but was back in the water surfing only a month later. She is now twenty years old and is a professional surfer. Bethany is one gutsy woman and she says :
'Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That's what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice.' " from "True Spirit": Jessica Watson.

Bethany Hamilton has written her story in a book called "Soul Surfer".

Mums can contribute to their daughter choosing a life of depth, bravery... - a BIG life with gumption! Jessica Watson's mum, Julie was acknowledged several times through Jessica's book as the one who encouraged her to dream big, which set her on her path as a small child. Likewise the incredible adult life of Ariana Styasinopoulos (my post WEEK 8  QUOTE 8), was supported and fuelled by a mother, who like Jessica Watson's mother, modelled and opened the door to a BIG life.

We have dozens of women through history who lived lives of gumption - Florence Nightingale, Anita Roddick, Maggie Thatcher, Maria Curie, Mother Theresa, Catherine the Great, Helen Keller, Corrie ten Boon, Rosa Parks......  Maybe you and your daughter could get to know their stories through books and movies.


D.  Be a Positive Example ~  Be Self Controlled.
Girls need a positive example of living with control in the area of emotions. So much has been written about the changes of a girl's emotions during pre adolescence, adolescence and of women through the process of menoporse.  Some writers direct the reader's attention to working with these changes. Part of that work is in the department of self control.

My hero, Charlotte Mason, says self control is a habit, something that with practice will become easier and more a part of our character.

I've heard women say that in living with their emotions, at some point they come to a 'fork in the road', they have a choice to go one way or the other, control themselves or not.

How do you learn to control yourself? Firstly start now, because the longer it is put off and the wrong habit practiced, the harder change becomes.

Charlotte Mason gives a great method. Start by talking with your daughter of her possible future, living without self control, 'painting' specific pictures for her. She needs to see and understand the real affect on herself and others around her, for her to decide she needs to work at change, now.

Next you need to identify where or what situations in her life regularly happen that call for her need of self control. Depending on her age, the strategy you use, may need you her mum to assist or support, especially at first, to get regular success in practicing self control.

Charlotte Mason describes an old wrong habit (lack of self control) as being like a wheel that goes forever up and down in one place, on the same old track, gouging a rut in the road over time. To establish a new, better habit (self control), the wheel must be lifted out of the rut, put on a new piece of ground and with support and help travel on, practicing the new habit of self control.


THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS  bring the examples of positive and great people you know about into your daughter's life, and let your feelings of inspiration translate into lives of gumption for both of you!!

Monday, October 4, 2010


"Every time I hear the fatal lines  'I'm my daughter's best friend',  I think  'Oh, grow up you silly woman...'  . . . .
You're out shopping and see two blondes from behind, long hair swinging, both in high heels, toting enormous SWAG bags, then they turn. One is 18, the other in her 40's. . . .
Now don't get me wrong. I can understand the heady attraction from the mum's point of view.
Not long ago, admittedly a very dark car park, the attendant thought I was my daughter's sister. I was over the moon. Until I caught sight of my daughter's face.
Much as she loves me I could see the look of horror mixed with pity that I wanted to be taken for my 19 year old's sister. Did I need that kind of pathetic reassurance?
It made me remember how one of my friends at primary school had a glam mother who dressed incredibly well and flirted with all the fathers. The rest of us were consumed with jealousy.
Except that when you looked closely, it was clearly aweful for my friend to have a mother who cared more about being desirable than for her daughter's happiness.
In fact, I remember being deeply grateful that my own mother looked like a mum, slightly overweight, rather dowdy dressed . . . and who was obviously a mum. And yet, no way did my mother lack authority. She had bags of it. . . . she knew that it was important for the psyche that parents lay boundaries that must be respected by the child.
And this is the rub, . . . best friends don't lay down limits. They join in with you, egg you on, even. And yet of all the parent's jobs, laying down limits is the most vital.
Parents have to teach their children nasty, uncomfortable truths - such as you can't always have what you want, that you have to think of others occasionally, and that life can be annoying and dull at times.
A friend who tried to tell you that would be dumped at once.
But any psychologist will tell you that getting stuck into extreme and self-destructive behaviour. . . is often due to children never having learned to say 'No'  to themselves with the help and advice of a loving parent.
But what if the parent wants to come along and share these experiences? The supreme irony is that while most of us would never hit or abuse our child, we are still doing them an immense wrong by trying just to be their friend. . . .
Our parents may have been tough and it was uncomfortable, so confusing authority with authoritarianism - we tell ourselves we want to practice a different way of parenting.
Unfortunately, it often turns out to be no parenting at all.
According to Dr Poulter, 'When mothers become best friends, it leaves their children motherless.'
The upshot is that girls can sometimes have to push themselves to dangerous levels of aberrant behaviour until someone intervenes and says enough is enough.
But being a strong parent can be uncomfortable. . . .
No one wants a return to the idea of Victorian parenting, with its overtones of children being seen and not heard, but we do need to re-establish a sense of parental authority.
Of course, it's healthy for parents to get on with their children, to chat and laugh together, though not to become one of those ghastly mothers who claim their daughters  'tell them everything'.
Daughters who have been brought up with a clear sense that they have a mother instead of an aging best friend won't need or want their mum to go on the pull with them, like Fergie boasts of doing.
They will have friends and boyfriends of their own. And if mothers who want to be their daughter's best friend don't see that, they will remain sad figures trying to prevent their children from growing up - just so they can go along for the party."
"Why Your Daughter Needs You to be Her Mother, Not Her Best Friend" : Maeve Haran. Daily Mail Online UK. April 2008.


I believe the night out lifestyle of the Duchess of Windsor - Sarah Ferguson (Fergie) with her daughters, like other royal and celebrity mums, is a normal part of life - indulging together in over partying.

As you look at the photograph of them above, out on the town for the night, what do you see? How do you feel?

You may quickly rule yourself out as being a practitioner of this type of relationship with your daughters, as you don't dress like this, or party with your daughters. . . Maeve Haran's description of mum-daughter dress alikes, partying together, is not the only version of  "my daughter's my best friend". There are others, not so clearly identified, but definately resulting in the same too close for the healthy independent development of daughters.

Haran gives some points to check ourselves by ~ does your daughter have friends of her own who she regularly spends time with/ shares her life with?
                                                                                               ~ do you encourage her to make independent friendships of her own? 
                                                                                               ~ do you wrap your own life tightly into your daughter's?

The mobile phone is used as a stranglehold on some daughters today. Mums who play with this version of  "my daughter's my best friend" , speak of it as a loving way to stay in contact! Mum may not be physically there at the party, at school or wherever the daughter is, but she is fully up with the play with what's happening - hourly dispensing thoughts into her daughter's mind. Advice? Suggestions? Checking she's OK? See that she's having a good time? Wanting to know what's going on, now? . . .  She may also suffer from being a 'Controlling Mum' (SEE my post WEEK 15 QUOTE 15).

Another version of  "my daughter's my best friend"  is seen when the daughter has left home, possibly has children of her own, and should be seen by her mother as being independent. Mum however, figures regularly in her daughter's life.    ~  she has daily contact on the phone to swap the goss.
            ~  she has several meet ups for coffee each week, or drop-ins to home to be fully involved with her daughter's life and decision making.
            ~  she is her daughter's shopping partner whether it be groceries, choosing objects for the house or clothes for her daughter or her children - often  mother ends up paying for more than she should on such outings. Again it may help reading the post on 'Controlling Mums'.

However you see it, daughters in these situations are not given the space to learn to be independent, to respect their own judgements or grow toward maturity. Daughters need peers, their own friends, to be part of and share their lives with, rather than being fully occupied by their mothers. Mums must remember their daughter has her own life to live and a right to the privilege to figure out life privately, herself.

"Above all, adolescent girls need mothers to be consistent adults. The healthiest of relationships will be developed between mums and girls who respect the boundaries of the generations."  says Kyanna Sutton : "How To Survive Your Daughter's Teen Years".  

Daughters are looking for and need their mum to be a support system to them. This necessary role becomes confused for them if mum is taken up with hanging on to her youth - be it spray-on tan, mini skirts, blonde hair extensions or whatever.  

Karyl McBride  "Will I Ever be Good Enough:Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers",  believes that mothers who choose to combat getting older in this manner, hurt their daughters as they seem to be competing with them. 

The support system needed by the daughter is confused, and her self esteem and confidence is damaged, says Erika Thomas "Moms That Dress Like Teenagers".

". . . the mother-daughter relationship has unique characteristics that distinguish it from a best friendship. These characteristics include a mother's role as primary caretaker, a lack of reciprocity, and a hierarchy of responsibility. This hierarchy, combined with unconditional love, precludes mothers and daughters from being best friends."  Linda Gordon and Susan Morris Shaffer  "Too Close for Comfort : Questioning the Intimacy of Today's Mother-Daughter Relationship".

I can hear you saying  "What? What's she mean by that? We've just been reading how mums must step out of their daughter's lives so they will mature independently...."  Yes, that's right!  But that does not mean that a daughter needs her mother to step off the planet and disappear from their life all together.
There is a difference between the mothering described in the previous point and the mothering that provides a daughter with her needed access to close connection with her mum. 

A picture of this is the swimming instructor who teaches very young children to float on their back. Lessons go by where the child is first fully supported and held in a lying position to get the feel of floating and over time the need of support is lessened until, SUCCESS, the child independently floats. But if there's a sudden loss of confidence or a person nearby on the side of the pool dives in giving a splash, the wise instructor assists the beginner by steadying him, supporting him to ensure the progress gained is not all lost in a moment.

I have seen the same process in gymnastics where a coach trains a gymnast with a new move on bar. The preparation takes weeks often months with a lot of talking and encouragement, along with sections of the move being practiced in isolation. Gradually as the coach sees increasing confidence and precision, the parts of the move are put together, speeded up, less support is given, until finally it is executed flawlessly. At this stage a gymnast may loose her confidence or holdback, maybe because of a painful injury. So the wise coach returns to encouraging talk and physical support to re-steady her once again and ensure the progress gained is not lost.

"The Mother-Daughter Project" practices these principles in their groups of mums and daughters across America. They regularly get together for skills and fun development along with making great memories between mums and their daughters. They start when daughters are five - ten years of age and say that by building positive, strong patterns of relationship between mums and daughters over years, gives a close connection to successfully handle any difficult years ahead. Girls want access to close connection with their mums. The Mother-Daughter Project say, "When they go in a new direction, especially one new to US . . . . our daughters want us right there, supporting and cheering them. Girls want to confide in their mothers, and with their mother's interest and support, it's easier for them to make it through the minefields of adolescence."

So how does a mother provide this close connection? What does it look like from mum's end?
                         Erika Thomas calls it a "support system"
                         Kyanna Sutton, being a "consistent adult"
                         Karyl McBride echoes both these points.
                         Gordon and Shaffer, being a "primary caretaker. . . . hierarchy of responsibility. . . . . combined with unconditional love"
                         Maeve Haran, establishing "boundaries", "laying down limits", "...nasty, uncomfortable truths - such as you can't always have what you want, that you have to think of others occasionally and that life can be annoying and dull at times" , saying "No", "parental-authority" not "authoritarianism".

The pictures of the swimming instructor and the gym coach, show too that the close connection equips, in this case, the daughter for the future, to operate successfully and independently.

The need of a daughter for closeness and connection with her mum is one thing, her finding access or choosing to connect is another. The need to build a history of good memories and access between mums and daughters through childhood years as The Mother-Daughter Project does, is the key.

Good memories of connection and strong patterns of relationship, are possible between mums and daughters of any age, even when you start later in life. It may however take a longer time build.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS, be a MUM to your daughter - make some good memories together.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


 I missed being home for FATHERS DAY this year, having recently flown back to Australia for family birthday celebrations and a much looked-forward catch-up with family, old and new friends. A FABULOUS time! I assisted my mindset preparations by getting into Ruth Park's book2 of her autobiography ~ "Fishing in the Styx". Single and in her early twenties, Ruth writes of her adjustment to life once she arrives in Sydney and is speedily married, all in the early days of WW2. Here's a quick 'taste'.
"Like most young couples my husband and I spent the first months of marriage trying diligently to change each other in both subtle and explosive ways. D'Arcy said I required him to become a person half way between my father and Gary Cooper, and he was damned if he would.  He did not want much; only that I should transmute quick smart into someone his mother would tolerate if not like. Like so many sons of alcoholics he was very protective of his mother and longed for her to be happy with his choice of wife. Still, our affection was such, and remained so steadfast, that very shortly we both accepted the exasperating for the sake of the good, which was manifold."
Ruth and D'Arcy had very different fathers.

My intention in this post is to put up some quotes written by fathers. Some speak of  fatherhood, others contain humour and the rest, what they judge as important.
Hope it was a happy FATHERS DAY at your house this year

"A father carries pictures where his wallet used to be"
I love this one and hopefully it is true for you if you are a father - your focus of what is important has decidedly shifted, rather than the other possibility that fatherhood has brought you poverty.

"I cannot understand how I managed to cope without getting the cuddles this many times a day."
Russell Crowe on unconditional love.
Great to read of a dad expressing a real benefit he personally has found in being a father.

"I've made a lot of mistakes in life - many in parenting. I've also learned a lot by being a dad, probably more than I have learned from any other area in life." 
Cole Ruddick, a solo dad.
An honest and realistic comment on being a parent. We all make and continue to make "mistakes", and hopefully like Cole find parenting a source that regularly enriches our lives.

"It is admirable for a man to take his son fishing, but there is a special place in heaven for the father who takes his daughter shopping"
John Sinor.
(Could only find a dad and daughter supermarket photo, no clothes shopping photos) I'm sure all dads don't find shopping with their daughter a difficulty, but John's encouragement to get involved in the child's life you don't automatically connect with, is a wise thing.

"Cultivate your own capabilities, your own style. Appreciate the members of your family for who they are, even though their outlook or style may be miles different from yours. Rabbits don't fly. Eagles don't swim. Ducks look funny trying to climb. Squirrels don't have feathers. Stop comparing. There's plenty of room in the forest."
Chuck Swindoll.
I love the perspective here, to identify who and what you are and then to do the same for each person in your family. Just because we may share a common surname, doesn't mean our bent, passions and approach will be similar. So identify what each person is. Then "appreciate" each for who they are, and finally urge them to "cultivate" themselves.

"It has taught me that there is no one moment that is frozen in time. There is no better example than to watch four kids grow up. For instance, I'm not feeling particularly steady right now, but this is not going to last for more than a couple of minutes. Same with raising kids. There are no moments you have frozen in amber. It's moving, it's changing, so appreciate what's good about right now and be ready for what's next."
Michael J Fox on fatherhood and Parkinson's disease.
Here again is the challenge to "appreciate". 
Appreciate means to perceive the full force of, understand, be sensitive to, esteem adequately, recognise as valuable or excellent, be grateful for.
It is true, our lives and all events are in process, ever developing and altering. Some experiences are hard to weather while others give endless pleasure. Michael's thought to stop and savour the good in the now, gives us a hint on how to live well, as he is obviously doing.

I found it refreshing to read these quotes and others too, and discover that so many men's thoughts on being a dad were not limited to their own role. Rather they quickly spoke of their link or relationship with their children and it's beneficial affect on them.