While the ultimate dream for the Courageous Girls Club is for it to reach Courageous moms and their daughters around the world, my first goal, however, has always been to establish it for my own daughters.
This fall, I read the book The Mother-Daughter Project, and wow. It gave me the final push to reach out and actually start our own Courageous Girls Club with other moms and their daughters (besides just meeting as a family.) This book is wonderful and describes a similar idea where they formed a mother-daughter group in 1997, and stayed together through monthly meetings for 10 years, until the girls graduated from high school. The book chronicles how they tackled the different issues that are relevant to the different ages (from age 8-18), and how they dealt with some of the challenges over the adolescent years.
For me, what was truly amazing about reading it, is that it works.
And not only does it work, the sooner you can establish such a community with other moms and daughters, the better. Not only for your daughter, but also for yourself.
So I mustered up some courage, and sent out an e-mail to a few moms I thought would be fun to start this journey with. I sent it out to 4 moms, and 2 were game! Then 1 mom invited another mom, so altogether we are now 4!
(By the way, the book recommends having between 4-6 moms/daughters in the group + starting between the ages of 7-10, well before puberty hits. My eldest is 10, so I couldn't dilly-dally any longer.)
So on a beautiful fall Sunday night we met at a restaurant (which was founded by a hard-working immigrant girl from Albania who grew it into this amazing restaurant called Sava's in Ann Arbor, MI), and in short, we were off!
(The reason I'm writing this all down here is that so you can get a feel for how to start your own CGC in case you are interested, and learn from my own experiences of what worked, and what didn't.)
So I had an agenda...
1. Welcome and short introductions of ourselves (name, kids, and who and how we know each other in the group.)
2. I talk about why I want to start a Courageous Girls Club - for me this was a passionate and vulnerable talk in 3 long points. I put it all in there.
3. Overview of what the Courageous Girls Club is, and what we would do
4. Idea of safe space - the hope is that what we share between us is considered a gift and is well-respected, and obviously not gossiped around.
5. Take a time-travel probably to the 80s, where we meet our younger selves, who is around our daughter's age between 7-10. (This wonderful activity is from The Mother-Daughter Project.)
Ask of yourself some of these questions: What was I like back then? What did I love to do? When did I feel the best? Whom did I love to be with?
(In our meeting, the first mom who started sharing realized that she can't really discuss herself as an 8 year-old without giving us context about her amazing life story as an immigrant, so from then on we all shared about the different contexts that shaped us into that 8 year-old child - so it ended up being a combo of parents, where we lived, how we lived, family dynamics, siblings, etc.)
6. Remembering your mother when you were young...
Some questions to ask: What are some of my favorite memories with my mother? What did I love to do with her? How was she with me back then? What did I need from her as a child? What did I miss that I feel like I didn't get, or get enough of?
The point of this activity is to reconnect with our younger selves which is our daughter's age, and try and feel what our moms were good at giving us that we can replicate, and think about what other things they may have missed that we feel like we needed, which we can then implement in our own parenting.
7. How was gender viewed at your household, what did you learn from your parents about how girls/women behave, etc.?
8. What is your goal or reasons for wanting to be in the Courageous Girls Club? And/or what would you like to get out of it?
Questions for Logistics:
-Do we want/need more members for our club? Who are we looking for? Do you know of anyone?
-How often should we meet (every other week or once a month)? Where should we meet? When should we meet? When should our first meeting be?
-Should we meet as mom’s once a month? If so, when and where?
Our first meeting together absolutely blew me away. I don't know what it was, but for me the true beauty in it were three things:
1. We were all vulnerable with the things we shared;
2. There was real depth to the conversations as we discussed our lives and experiences being a daughter, wife, mom, professional;
3. Everything was relevant and interesting as we are all on the same path to try and raise courageous girls.
These were not surface conversations. We are all in this together. We are all trying to do our best. And it’s not just about parenting. In order to best raise courageous girls, we ourselves have to be role-models, we ourselves have to be self-aware and figure ourselves out, plus learn about the different issues we want our daughters to know and to become.
So our next step is meeting just as moms again in 2 weeks, same time, same place, but armed with a great overview book in hand: 9 Ways We Are Screwing Up Our Girls And How We Can Stop - A guide to helping girls reach their highest potential. I think it's a perfect book with which to launch our mission.
When I got home after our 4 hour-long meeting, I told my husband that it felt like CGC is really just as much for moms as it is for our daughters, which was a new concept for me. I think we all realized that we have a lot to share with one another, learn from each other, and so many issues to cover and educate ourselves on. So meeting once a month with a new book in hand to discuss issues, ideas and experiences felt natural I think for all of us.
What a gift.