Girls look to the women in their lives to give them a sense of what it’s like to be a woman. They emulate the women they like, and strive to be different from those they don’t.
Many girls find themselves with only one woman who knows them well — their own
mother. If she’s lucky a girl will also have a smattering of aunts, grandmothers, godmothers, cousins, friends’ mothers and mother’s friends who take an interest in her. She may also have a special teacher, tutor, or coach. Even then, many girls rarely have the opportunity of hearing women speak about their dreams, their passions, their relationships, and their bodies. And yet, we want our girls to forge their own futures, to know what is important to them, to form firm friendships, and to like themselves. So often seeking these vital goals is left to chance, or in the hands of schools, or to the influence of social media.
Every girl needs a circle of women and the company of other girls with whom to learn about womanhood. Some girls are lucky to live in communities that naturally provide this female support. Many girls are not so fortunate. When families have busy lives, lived far from extended family, and children spend most of their time in the company of other children, then a girls’ group can fill the gap.
How does a girls’ group work?
One or two women with group-work skills find a private place to meet, gather together six to twelve girls of similar age, and provide a space so each girl can:
|learn about the changes that puberty brings|
|get to know each other really well — well enough to dare to speak their innermost fears and heartfelt hopes|
|laugh and cry and play and feast|
We focus on teaching our children algebra, tectonic plate movements, and what befell the wives of King Henry VIII — and then leave the fundamental issues of maturation up to chance chats with family, the modelling of soaps and films, and the immature influence of peers. We give swimming lessons before diving into the sea, and driving lessons are mandatory before taking to the roads, so why not insist on structured adult support to prepare our children for adulthood? Most religions and many tribes still recognise the importance of guiding children safely towards adulthood, and offer them a rite of passage while they are actively engaged in this maturation process. We find ourselves living in a culture that values grades and awards over developing good relationships and a healthy sense of self.
The more ‘developed’ we become, the more we abandon our teenagers. Instead we leave them to invent their own idealisations for adulthood and make their own markers to prove their adulthood, which often involve using drink, sex, driving, and other risk-taking activities.
Look for a Girls Journeying Together group near you.
I’ve worked as a therapist with many girls and teenagers who are experiencing difficulty. I’ve seen how isolated they are, the pressure to compete with their peers and how hard it can be to share their lows as well as their highs. I see this kind of space as a sanctuary they can be resourced by while they mature. Wonderful work!
I heard about Kim’s groups from a friend who’s nieces had been though and I knew immediately that I wanted my daughter to have that precious experience. Although me and her have great and open communication, I felt that a girl’s circle with a sensitive and loving facilitator could offer something I couldn’t….and I was right!
My daughter formed deep and respectful friendships, all held by the safe space that Kim creates; the group seemed to be timed perfectly at the same time as the transition to secondary school, a time of transition. She didn’t tell me much about what happened at groups and I tried not to probe; at this age it is important for her to have her independence.
I love the fact the group covered so many topics such as how women are portrayed in the media and use of photoshop as well as puberty, periods etc. It took the pressure off me feeling that I had to cover all bases so felt very supportive. Kim responded spontaneously and organically to the group to cover other topics that came up too.
I feel very blessed to have met Kim, the other girls and the Mums in our group. I’m aware that my daughter is very priviledge to have been able to access this beautiful, educational and nourishing space and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Through creating a safe and held space for the girls, Kim facilitates more than a discussion group. It allows girls to find a context in which to form relationships in a healthy and comfortable way – something that can be challenging at this age and in these times of media and peer pressure. The diversity of the group allows all to feel comfortable with themselves – whether extrovert or introvert – and to be accepted into a welcoming space.
Being part of a group of mothers who became friends was an unexpected bonus, and not to be underestimated. To find other mothers facing the same or similar challenges with raising a teenager, has been a true source of support.
Girls Group is a beginning – a journey with people whom we trust, respect and value and a gift to be cherished.
Thank you Kim for bringing this to our communities! So needed as our schools simply don’t do enough for our girls. Having a safe space where girls can feel relaxed enough to ask those questions, explore new weird and wonderful issues and thoughts, and just simply be themselves is so vital. Thank you for having this vision and bringing it to life!
Going to Girls Group makes me feel more secure about moving up to secondary school and about the changes in my body that are going to happen in the next few years. My friend started her period at school and didn’t know what to do and I was able to help her which felt really great! I feel really safe and happy when I am at Girls Group, it is great fun, all the girls are lovely and it is really nice receiving my own letter, addressed to me from Kim every month.
I feel so fortunate – for both my daughter and myself that I heard about this deeply nurturing and formative experience from a friend. The space that Kim holds for the girls is one that is safe; full of wisdom, acceptance and love. I lost my mother at a young age and upon the birth of my daughters felt acutely the void that her absence left. I was without that essential link to the wisdom of all the women in her line that had gone before. Participation in Girls Group will ensure that each of my girls see other girls and women as a source of encouragement, succour and kindness and not sadly (in this age of social media and photoshop) as competition. As they travel in their own journeys on to secondary school and beyond, the friends they make at Girls Group give them another essential layer of community and belonging, a sense of camaraderie and another perspective. Participation will undoubtedly help them make better choices, and give them the courage and the experience to see and hear things more clearly. They are stronger for it. It should be a rite of passage that every young girl entering her teens is gifted with.
When I first heard about Girls Group – my first thought was “I wish that I had had something like this to go to when I was a girl!” I remember feeling so confused, embarrassed, and alone during my journey through puberty. Kim’s group offers a warm supportive, nurturing safe place for each girl to learn about their bodies in a healthy way, and ask any questions they may have. Within the group, the girls form such close bonds with each other and my daughter has loved every minute! The girls get together regularly and their friendships will continue on through their lives.
Girls group is amazing and I loved every second of it!!! Not only did it offer a safe and non-judgmental place where we could be ourselves and learn about puberty and social issues, but it also gave me the opportunity to meet other girls I would never have met. I have made great friends and we carry on meeting monthly. I would thoroughly recommend Girls Group to every girl!
Something happened with my daughter recently that really highlighted the value of Girls Group to me. A boy had deliberately run his go-cart into the back of her legs at a play centre and she clearly and assertively informed him why his behaviour was not OK. I felt very proud of her. A short while later she again stood up for a friend’s daughter we were caretaking. There have been many times in the past when I have been unable to stand up for myself or find my voice in a in a challenging situation and I think that Girls Group has helped Natalie find the self-confidence and tools to do this. (The Voice she probably already had!).
Amongst the other things I value about Girls Group has been the teaching of valuable listening skills and emphasising the value that each girl’s differences brings to the group. This, now firmly established, community of friends can give my daughter support and a wider perspective on any issues she has to deal with going forward in her life. And, of course, the community of mothers who have now become my friends.