Friday, September 19, 2014

Raise Girls to Be Leaders, Allies and Agents of Change by Lori Day

Her Next Chapter by Lori Day and Charlotte Kugler

Today we welcome author Lori Day to the Girls Succeed! blog. In a previous Girls Succeed! blog post I offered suggestions for starting your own Mother-Daughter Book Club based on Lori's book, Her Next Chapter. Because I believe Lori has many positive messages to moms and girls, I invited her to be our guest. And she accepted!

I am thrilled to introduce you to Lori Day and to share her guest blog post.
Using Mother-Daughter Book Clubs to 
Raise Girls to Be Leaders, 
Allies and Agents of Change 
by Lori Day

One of the most fulfilling and most memorable undertakings of my parenting journey was the formation of a mother-daughter book club, a collaboration with my then eight-year-old daughter and four other mother-daughter pairs that would last for six years. We all discussed the need to counteract stereotyped and sexualized girl culture with positive messages about who girls and women really are and what they can do.

As mothers, we wanted to work together as a village to develop open communication with our daughters early on, so our girls would be listening (and talking to us) when all the marketing and media messaging aimed at girls needed to be deconstructed and kept at bay. We knew it was becoming increasingly difficult to raise happy, healthy girls with good self-esteem in our increasingly shallow, beauty-obsessed society. We felt we could do a better job at this together than separately.
I remember noticing how few books and movies for children had female protagonists, and of the ones that did, how few of those portrayed women and girls in strong, positive roles. As mothers, we wanted more for our daughters than stories that revolved around the adventures of boys and men as the default, leaving the stories of girls and women marginalized as chick lit and chick flicks.

In a culture that is not always healthy for today’s girls, and that can make the job of raising girls feel intimidating or isolating, it is crucial for mothers to join together to guide daughters in ways that are uplifting and enjoyable. The teaching of media literacy is critical, and is accomplished very successfully within clubs that use carefully chosen female-centric books and media as side doors into crucial conversations about growing up female.

While mother-daughter book clubs can do a lot for girls, I can’t stress enough how much these clubs can also do for mothers. Raising kids today is hard, and raising girls comes with a unique set of challenges for mothers. 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.

I have huge concerns about the parenting culture we have now, 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 breastfeeding 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 this noise and instead listen closely to other chosen mothers that 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 as well as daughters. 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!


Lori Day is an educational psychologist and consultant with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA. Previously Lori worked as a psychologist, teacher and school administrator for over 25 years in public schools, private schools,
and at the college level. She is a co-founder and member of the advisory board of the Brave Girls Alliance, a global think tank of girl empowerment experts who advocate for healthier media and products for girls. Lori is also a freelance writer, as well as a blogger for the Huffington Post and various other sites, writing about parenting, education, child development, gender, media, and pop culture. Her first book, titled Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, came out in May of 2014, published by Chicago Review Press. Lori speaks publicly about mother-daughter book clubs, media literacy, and raising confident girls in today’s culture.

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