Why Cultivating Resilience is Critical for Teenage Girls (and how parents can help!)
Published in Women's Agenda on February 6th 2019
How did Girl Ready come about? Was there a key turning point in your life that put you on a path towards founding it?
After becoming a parent and blindly navigating through some interesting and at times, very difficult challenges, it became very clear to me that parenting was an area that needed some further attention. It couldn’t just be about stumbling through hoping to get it right. And every parent I spoke to felt the same way.
A friend confided in me that she was experiencing many challenges with her daughter and would give anything to be able to truly re-connect with her. To get away from all distractions and really get back to being open, honest and vulnerable with each other. I knew this resonated with so many parents.
It was in this moment that everything changed. When we speak about parenting, we often focus on what we need to teach the child to help them. I felt this was a little too simplistic
It became apparent to me that the learning needed to change, that it was more about being in this together with your child. To be who you want to create and, in this way, teach.
Brene Brown teaches that ‘This is our greatest challenge and also our greatest opportunity - to be the adults that we want our children to be and to understand what it would mean to raise children with courage, compassion and connection.’
I searched for something that offered a true combined learning experience for girls and their parents and couldn’t find what I was looking for – so I set out to create it.
Cultivating resilience and a growth mindset are the focus of your event for teen girls and their parents. Can you tell us a little about why you think building these skills are important for girls as they become teenagers?
Human-centred learning such as resilience and growth mindset are topics that we all, as children and adults must learn. This is not something that we learn once and apply for a lifetime much like we do not lift a barbell once and create a toned body for life.
I believe, these are fundamental teachings that our lives should be centred around to allow for the creation of a mindset that allows you to growth as an individual and advance despite adversity.
To learn and practice the fundamental principles and techniques means to apply them daily – constantly building on the learning of the previous day, week, month, year – creating a life of learning and application.
Teaching ourselves and our girls how to be resilient, how to Advance Despite Adversity is critical to overall well-
being and intern their individual success, however they choose to define it.
Our girls (and every child) need to be able to engage with the world through a place of worthiness, creativity, respect and compassion (for self and others), vulnerability and perseverance and above all a sense of courage and resilience.
What transferable skills from previous roles have you brought to your leadership at Girl Ready? Why are these skills important for the work that you do?
For me this is a passion project and brings together not only all my skills learned over my career but the very essence of who I am.
My entire career has been centred around the development of people and studying the human connection.
As a parent, this developed further as I had now added a new layer to the human connection and a deeper understanding of how fragile a relationship can be when not tended to daily and with care.
My role now, is to facilitate change.
To call upon thought leaders, visionaries and experts alike to create one community for assisting the development of our future female thought leaders.
Nothing is more pertinent and more urgent to me than this.
How do you teach parents to stay calm and rational when dealing with the endless challenges of raising a teenage girl?
For me parenting is a relationship and like any relationship it has its challenges. The challenges are not just part of parenting – they are part of living.
Parenting is not one dimensional and as parents we need to remember that.
We want the quick fix when some thing is not going the way we believe it should, but for me, it’s about the long-term cultivation of a deep relationship with our daughters (and sons).
I am not a child psychologist and therefore do not have the textbook answers. My role is to bring the ‘experts’ together to assist in the development of the relationship between parent and daughter.
However, I feel that if we practice the fundamentals of listening with intent to understand and also respect - respecting your daughter’s perspective as valid and true for Her, then we create better relationships with our girls. We would do this in any business encounter. Why not apply it with your children?
In the gap between the academic environment of school and real life beyond this structure, what necessary skills do girls need to reach their full potential? How can these be cultivated?
They say it takes a village to raise a child. For me this is a true statement
No one place – school, home, teacher, parent, can teach it all…
Some topics would be (but not limited to):
· Resilience and learning to how make their own positive decisions through challenge
· Understanding and applying a Growth Mindset to everyday
· Financial literacy (across all areas eg: saving, tax, mortgage, P&L etc …)
· Risk taking & entrepreneurship
· The truth behind body image (marketing and hype) and the Psychology of Selling
· Growing up in a hyper sexualised environment
· Mind/ Body balance and Self Defense
· Defining success in your own terms
· Emotional intelligence (EQ) and (AQ) Adversity quotient
· Science of Communication – (not speaking & Hearing) But consciously listening & learning and creating outcomes
· Human Connection and bringing the ‘Human’ back
Cultivation comes from understanding and doing. Taking action everyday
When stakes are high, living through fear and questioning yourself is sometimes a reality for many parents. What is your advice to other parents for overcoming this fear?
I don’t believe there is a parent anywhere that has not questioned their parenting at some point. I believe that embracing that vulnerability is essential in being a connected parent.
Yes, as parents we experience fear but as Brene Brown tells us “perfect and bullet proof are seductive but they don’t exist in the human experience. We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be, an important meeting, a creative process or a difficult family conversation – with courage and the willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling advice, we must DARE to show up”
As a parent yourself, where do you look for advice when you need it?
From trusted family and friends to expert advice from my wider network.
My motto is ask and you shall receive.
For years I tried to be all things to all people.
With wisdom comes the understanding that I am not meant to know everything, help is available and mistakes are rich in experience and learnings
How should parents strike a balance between allowing their daughter independence and expecting her to follow trusted advice that has been given to her?
This ‘balance’ is not something that is static.
Everything is fluid and because of this the balance can change from one day to the next.
For me it has always been about creating a trusted relationship with my daughter. Enabling her to feel that she and I have a space that is free of judgement and a space where we can both be vulnerable. That all decisions – easy or otherwise – can be made with support and understanding.
Of course, it is also very important to determine whether our daughters have the emotional and psychological maturity to undertake certain things. I don’t believe I need to be my daughter’s best friend. There needs to be a mutual understanding regarding which decisions require discussion & agreement and which she can undertake on her own.
Staying close, having an open, vulnerable relationship and accepting that we will both make mistakes along the way and openly acknowledging those mistakes, will in my opinion make the relationship stronger.
What would you go back and tell yourself as a teenage girl?
Embrace Vunerability and grow from it.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
What book do you most recommend for parents looking for advice on parenting teenage girls?
The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting – Raising kids with courage, compassion and connection by the incredible Brene Brown
She teaches that it is in these moments of imperfection that we actually create the greatest connection. Absolutely wonderful!