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May 7, 2014

The Daily Parent: Using mother-daughter book clubs to raise confident girls

(Continued)

This learning from other trusted and respected mothers is perhaps one of the least discussed but most important benefits to a mother-daughter book club today, and here’s why. Over the 25 years I have worked with kids and parents, I have noticed a decline in the internal confidence mothers have about parenting.

In my educational consulting practice, I am routinely involved with attentive parents who love their children deeply, but seem to need my advice on everything — from the smallest decisions, like what music classes to sign them up for, to the largest, like how to help them stand up to bullies or how to get help for their teens’ depression. That’s fine, and that’s my job. But what concerns me is how dependent on expert advice lots of mothers have become in recent years, as if they are birds that have suddenly lost their inner compass while migrating.

I have huge concerns about the parenting culture we now have, especially for mothers. Mothers are under constant media bombardment. You cannot open a magazine or browse articles online or tune in to Facebook without reading some version of how mothers are doing it wrong. Or can’t have it all. Or should have it all. Or are not following the “right” method for potty training or breast-feeding or violin instruction or fill-in-the-blank. And none of them, it seems, can regain their figures quickly enough after giving birth, like celebrities do. It is endless. Mothers need to seek less validation for their parenting decisions, to judge each other less and to find more ways of forming genuine connections with other women who sincerely want to be their allies, not their “mompetitors.”

Mother-daughter book clubs are a way to sidestep some of these distractions and instead listen closely to other chosen mothers whom you trust. They can provide a measured amount of communal upbringing that is sorely lacking in today’s world, and are a fantastic way of building community among mothers. Mother-daughter book clubs are not only a way for girls to find their inner voices, but for mothers to do the same. Together, from one generation to the next, we can change the world — one girl at a time, one book at a time, one voice at a time.

Welcome to the village!

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Lori Day is an educational psychologist, consultant and parenting coach with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport. She is also the author of “Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More,” which is available at Jabberwocky Bookshop, The Book Rack and the Newburyport Public Library.

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