In the wake of International Women’s Day (IWD) this week, this article focuses on the biggest issues facing teenage girls in Australia at this time. I work at two different high schools, one of them for IWD gave a short talk on assembly about how being a feminist is not a bad thing and that IWD is not about the students at this school but about women in other countries who do not have access to healthcare or education. The other high school I work at organised a whole assembly with local feminist speakers and female leaders to educate and inspire the whole school population about issues currently facing girls and women in our own community. I like the second school’s approach better!!! I’ve also attended camps and programs for teenage girls where a significant part of the story being told by the facilitators is about how good we’ve got it, compared to women in other countries. Yes, we have access to healthcare and education, but are we really satisfied?
Do you have a daughter?
Would you like to support her through the changes she faces growing up?
From child to adolescent... and from adolescent to adult...
Would you like to be supported through this time of change in your relationship with her?
Do you want to make this tumultuous and risky time as smooth and safe as you possibly can?
Rites of Passage programs are a powerful way for you to support your daughter, and yourself, through this transition...
I've spent the last 6 months researching girls' Rites of Passage programs in Australia and around the world...
So wherever you are, whatever age your daughter currently is, and whatever challenges you are currently facing... hopefully one of these programs will suit your needs...
Have you ever felt like things have been going amazingly and then bam - everything goes to smash?
I’m guessing yes. Since this is a typical pattern. Things are going well, for example in your relationship with you daughter and then - something to criticise, something to worry about, or a fight breaks out.
This is totally normal, and totally changeable.
I’ve done the same thing in my relationships -beautiful connection and a great time and then – a fight!
Why? Because we have an internal upper limit – we can only cope with so much joy before we sabotage ourselves and bring ourselves down to where we are comfortable.
So how is this changeable? Firstly, you need to recognise how you sabotage yourself. Criticism, worry, and squabbling are common methods. Then you need to expand your capacity for joy, abundance and success.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the current world crises?
Do you sometimes feel that there’s no point even trying to do anything positive because it’s impossible to do it all? And whatever you do sometimes you’re actually going to contribute to the mess?
I feel like this often. I think most people do.
But I’ve discovered something so powerful that really does have the potential to change our whole community for the better.
I watched an amazing Ted talk yesterday titled “Tying the Threads of the Past to the Future” by Darcy Ottey. She talks about a village in India which had lost its cultural and community connection. They were no longer practicing the rituals which brought them together. Alcoholism, poverty, and a lack of a feeling of belonging were major issues.
Have your ever felt stressed – even when things have been going well in your life?
Yep, that’s me right now – and I’m guessing you’ve had this experience also.
We live in times of intense crisis. It is natural and normal to react with fear and stress. Although hard, it’s also an opportunity, to connect with and find a deeper peace.
I also believe that it’s dangerous to think that the problem lies 100% with us as individuals – and but we also need to consider how we can take positive action towards a healthier future for ourselves and for coming generations.
Both finding peace within ourselves, and taking positive action towards change are necessary. One is not effective without the other.
Today I’m going to talk mostly about finding peace within ourselves.
What are you up to over your next school holidays?
Will you spend some time with your teenage daughter? Or is that the last thing she wants?!
Have you got everything planned in advance or are you a spontaneous kind of family?
If you’re like most Mums you want to connect with your daughter and deepen the bond you have with her forever.
If your daughter is like most teenage girls, she wants to spend time with her friends and have some space from Mum. But she comes back to you when she needs a hug.
Would you love to spend 2 nights at an amazing retreat centre in the Byron Bay hinterland? With a blissful massage, scrumptious healthy food and lots of time to chill?
Would your daughter like to spend time with other teenage girls, sharing stories, dancing and having fun?
What would you do if I told you that:
~ you haven’t earned all your achievements?
~ compared to others in society you’ve actually got it easy?
~ your struggles and challenges were insignificant?
Well, I’m not going to tell you that your struggles and challenges are insignificant – because the times we’re living in are difficult for everyone.
And I know that you’ve worked hard for what you’ve earned and life hasn’t always been easy for you. But, we live in an oppressive biased society, and some people have it easier than others.
White people, for example. I remember first learning about “white privilege” and definitely resisting this idea. I worked hard at school, through university, and in my professional life. Really hard. I definitely have earned the right to feel proud of my academic and professional successes.
However, I am still willing to recognise that being white has made things way easier for me than if I’d been born black.
But what I want to talk about today is male privilege. And this one’s more obvious to me since I don’t have it.
Have you ever been asked to articulate how and why you do what you do as a Mother? What parenting principles or theories are you drawing from? Is what you’re actually doing day to day aligned with your values and vision?
What are your values?
Are you able to live by your values or do they sometimes conflict with other constraints? For example you’d like to have your young children at home more often but it’s a legal requirement to send them to school every day.
Are you influenced by the social and cultural contexts of your parenting? What did you learn from your parents about what’s right and wrong and what to expect from your children? What have you learnt from society about the roles different gendered parents?
These are questions worth exploring. Not because there are right or wrong answers but because when you are clear on you vision and values you are more likely to act in alignment with them.
Ah teaching. What a noble profession. Rewarding for those destined for it, for whom it is their passion and their life.
Kids know the difference between a teacher who is fully passionate and dedicated to their role, and a teacher who really needs to keep looking for their perfect career. I’ve used this as an example to illustrate the importance of finding their unique role – and they get it straight away.
I’m not one of those passionate teachers. Teaching for me is a stepping stone to other things – to my social work practice and Rites of Passage work. And it pays the bills.
Yes, I’ve learnt a lot. In my first year of teaching I had many sleepless nights (the only time in my life I’ve had trouble sleeping), I had flashing thoughts of driving into the oncoming trucks on the highway on the way to school, I lost my temper often, and I felt that I had split personalities – split between my stressed teacher self and my fun happy social self.
That situation has transformed greatly and although I do experience some stress at school, I’m a lot more confident in my ability to manage challenging behaviours, I very rarely if ever lose my temper, and my fun happy self plays more of a role in the classroom. (To the point where a student said to me only today, “we’re not really scared of you Miss because you’re just like someone we’d want to hang out with”. Hhmmm – maybe not ideal either!!!)
Have you ever experienced stressful times in your life? Of course you have!
Moving house, assignments due, financial stressors, relationship challenges, work pressure, isolation, grief and loss. I’ve experienced all of these in the last few weeks. Everyone has these times occasionally.
I received this in an email from Marianne Williamson this morning, “We’re living in dramatic times, with a stress on many of our external systems ranging from political to financial to environmental. And not only the outer world is experiencing crisis; internally, we’re absorbing the stress as well. We often find ourselves experiencing emotional and psychological anxiety that mirrors the upset of these extraordinary times.”
Ah, this is a woman who is strong, powerful, and engaged in such amazing social, political, and spiritual work in the world. Hearing this from her was such a relief. Ah, it’s OK and normal to be experiencing high stress levels in these times.
And I’ve learnt through other amazing teachers to see stress as a good thing. How?
Stress is a sign that something’s out of balance. And the energy of the flight or fight response can be used for change.