There’s a special magic that happens when we bring girls and grown-ups together to reflect and learn. Our Girl and Grown-Up programs for families of girls in grades K–1, 2–3, 4–5, and 6–8 start soon (sign up to secure your spot!) and offer families the opportunity to practice the skills for authentic communication, vulnerability, and wellness. We couldn’t be more excited to connect with these families!
We started working with parents and caregivers 16 years ago. It began when high school girls went home from our overnight camp, and their moms called us up — separately — and said, “What about me? I want to tell people how I really feel! I want to ask for what I need! Will you teach me?” So we piloted a workshop for moms, which evolved over the years into our current Girl and Grown-Up workshop series. What we learned in these last 16 years is that those of us who love and care for girls have our own internalized gender norms and expectations. If we don’t understand what limits our own voice, or the skills to reconnect to our own power, then we can’t give our girls the language or the permission to step into their own leadership. Brene Brown always says it best, “We can’t give our children what we don’t have.” You might sign up for your girl, but we’ve never met a grown-up (in hundreds of thousands of grown-ups) who hasn’t come away telling us, this workshop was really for them.
If you need more evidence for why it’s important for girls and grown-ups to learn together, here is feedback from girls and grown-ups who recently completed the program:
What we heard from 6th–8th grade girls
Girls were able to be their full selves
We have seen repeatedly that when girls are able to come together in all-girl spaces, they feel relaxed because they can let go of the thought, “What will other people think?” The Girls Leadership not-so-secret sauce for creating this community starts with exceptional educators who role model vulnerability and honesty. Then we add a ton of play and joy to shake off the gender norms of the “outside world.” The result? A group of girls and grown-ups laughing too hard to remember the rules about how they are “supposed to be.” One girl who took the program via Zoom shared that her favorite part of the workshop was being connected with people and feeling heard.
Girls gained practical communication skills
A couple of girls shared how helpful the body language exercises were, noting that they had not realized how much they were fidgeting or avoiding direct eye contact. Another girl noted the value of role playing: “The role plays were related to my life and helped me become assertive in my everyday life.” One girl shared that learning how to understand her feelings helped her realize that there were issues in her friend group, that those issues were fixable, and that she now had the confidence to try to fix the issues. This was music to our ears!
Girls gained empathy skills
Developing empathy is crucial to all kinds of communication. One girl shared how valuable it was to learn about the full range of people’s experiences: “I enjoyed getting to know everyone and learning everyone’s personalities … their likes and dislikes.” Another shared how the program deepens relationships: “I recommend [this program] because it can bring you and your grown-up closer. It can make you more understanding of each other and each other’s feelings and problems.”
What we heard from 6th–8th grade grown-ups
The power of learning in community is a huge part of what we do so we were thrilled to hear one parent share, “I enjoyed the designated time together … to learn together. I felt like I learned not only from our instructor but the other women and girls we connected to.”
There’s always room for growth
One parent noted how she realized there was a lot she was learning in the workshop that extended elsewhere. “I really liked how much the scenarios start out in a middle school environment but we start to see that they can be applied to our relationships between us, mom and girl, and also [other relationships],” she said. Another parent shared, “I am realizing that part of the skill building we are doing here is useful because it is something that we can all use and model for each other. Watching [my daughter] model her experiences … I’m realizing I can show her how I’m learning too.”
An outside perspective helps
Outside perspectives proved valuable. “Hearing [messages] not only from your mom but from other wonderful women is empowering,” shared one parent. Another noted how the workshops helped expand her own understanding of leadership: “It’s valuable to sit down and talk about the basics of leadership that we might know intrinsically but not have the words to describe or teach … to create a vocabulary to take from here on out.”
Thinking about values leads to self-advocacy
Friendship is a topic that comes up repeatedly in our sessions and the impact was felt at all levels. One parent shared that hearing from all of the different girls in the session made her and her daughter realize that there are many friend circles; if one doesn’t work out it is going to be OK. “You set your boundaries, know what’s important to you, and with these steps [we learned] you have ways of describing what you need from friends. And that also describes what you can be for other people.” Another parent noted that her favorite part was defining what is important in a friendship. “I am 46 years old and had never really thought about what I value in a friendship or relationship and that is hugely important for all of our relationships.”
We hope to see you at one of these workshops. A welcoming, fun, authentic space awaits!