As the mother of an eight year old (going on 14) daughter, conflict is no stranger to our household. When an email dropped into my Inbox offering me the chance to review Kim McCabe’s new book, From Daughter to Woman, I’m sure you can imagine my reaction. So what did I think and will I be taking any tips from Kim?
From Daughter to Woman
A timely and powerful guide exploring how we can best navigate the teen years and support girls through the defining and exciting adolescent phase, from Rites for Girls founder Kim McCabe.
Divided into three parts, Kim’s book starts with the approach of puberty, proceeds through the chaos of adolescence, and finishes with building her tribe of self-support and a celebration of the young woman-to-be. Kim shows how mothers can guide their daughters, from how to lay good foundations for healthy relationships through the teen years, to figuring out who they are and managing their moods.
The book includes four sections: speaking directly to the girls, giving mothers the language to talk about puberty, periods, romance and depression. It ends with a how-to guide for creating a rite of passage to celebrate a girl’s coming of age.
About the author
As a mother of three teenagers and founder of Rites for Girls, Kim McCabe was prompted into action from her experience in counselling distressed teenagers.
The teenage years are tough. However, teens who get the right guidance can journey safely through, learning by their mistakes, while avoiding the worst excesses. Sadly, the statistics show that many girls aren’t thriving in their teens. Whether it’s disordered eating or self-harming, anxiety, discomfort in a body that’s changing, bullying or peer pressure to do things that they aren’t ready for, the experience of adolescence can often be traumatic. One in four girls is recorded as clinically depressed by the time they turn 14, that’s 166,000 girls in the UK alone (UCL Sept 2017).
Rites for Girls helps prepare preteen girls for adolescence, guides them through their teens, and also offers coaching to mothers.
I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up the book, but I certainly didn’t expect to find it so hard to put down. From the very first pages, it’s crammed full of tips, advice, and helpful information. Did you know that puberty can start from as young as eight years old? Or that changing hormones can buffet and break existing connections in the teenage brain as well as the emotions?
There are many things in here that I have never even thought about. Such as the notion of celebrating Flora’s first period as a rite of passage. And talking to her about sex, not just in terms of pregnancy and diseases, but about romance, friendship, and the “adult fun” side of things too (Kim’s words). Or that how her father treats us both will shape how she expects men to treat her in the future.
We’ve always tried to encourage Flora to be and do anything she wants to (palaeontologist, astronaut, marine biologist, cat and fish breeder). And she has copious reference books, drawing pads and notebooks which are full of her designs and ideas. The concept of allowing her to make her own mistakes is one that I struggle with though. The thought of anyone or anything hurting her, physically or mentally, makes me feel sick. Rationally, I know it’s going to happen and I need to make sure that my future teenager knows we are both here for her, that home is her safe place, and we won’t judge her.
I like to think that Flora and I are already close. But something I want to make more time for before she hits puberty are Mother-Daughter dates. So spending time together, just the two of us. Whether we go out for hot chocolate and shopping, snuggle up at home with a film, or even just play Top Trumps together. Quality time, just her and me when she has my undivided attention. Kim makes a very good point that we may spend a lot of time listening to our children but do we actually hear what they say? I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t think I do hear Flora sometimes.
Would I recommend it?
Absolutely, 100% yes. I wish this book had been around when I was a pre-teen, I think it would have been very useful for both my mother and for me. I’ve re-read certain sections already and used up nearly a whole pad of yellow Post-It notes to bookmark the most helpful pages. What I particularly love is Kim’s tone. She’s not judgemental, she’s offering her thoughts on what to do so things don’t go wrong and, even more importantly, what to do when things do go wrong.
The phrase that chimed most with me is actually in the first few pages of the book:
“Allow yourself to make your life better and
show your daughter an adult life to look forward to.”
As a freelancer trying to build my own small business, I’m very conscious that I’ve been spending far too much time on my laptop in recent months. Often to the detriment of spending time with Flora (and Alan). This is not setting a good example, so from September, things are going to change. My daughter is still only eight but I don’t know for how much longer she’s going to want to spend time with me. She is a gift, the light of my life and I do not want to miss one more second of her childhood than I have to.
Many thanks to Authoright for organising a copy of From Daughter to Woman for me to review. I feel very lucky to have been gifted such an enlightening read – and I know it’s a book I’ll be returning to frequently in the very near future.
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