Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cold Canada

The Mighty Fingers team recently traveled to Edmonton Canada, the third of fifteen projected locations on the project. Though I was unaccustomed to the icy temperatures, Edmonton had countless warming coffee shops to welcome any foreigner. Edmonton also had a vibrant art scene and plenty of enthusiastic girls who made the trip smooth and successful. I had a chance to interview a few local girls and ask them a few questions.
Because of the biting cold that lasts a good amount of the year, girls usually do
indoor activities so when I asked “What do you and your friends do for fun?” Most of them had answers like playing video games and listening to music with friends. One overwhelming obsession amongst most of the girls is the boy band, One Direction. One Direction is wildly popular everywhere modern pop exists but the young girls of Canada seem to be extra taken by the band.
            When we asked the girls for symbols that represent inspiration and passion, this Mighty Fingers location transformed from a project focusing on the power of girls to a giddy powwow discussing cute boys. Though I understand why girls are inspired by boys I wanted to encourage them to step away from that obsession for just a second and think about themselves and their own power. We discussed how a dedicated focus on their own talents could not only bring personal empowerment, but might also get them closer to some of those other “inspiring” elements they crave – like boy bands. For instance, a good writer could apply for press passes to concerts like One Direction and get a chance to interview the performers. It is not bad to spend time gossiping about boys and high school drama, but it is important to make sure that they are keeping tabs on their personal goals and putting in the time and work necessary to reach them .
            HOW and WHY a girl chooses friends offers a bit of insight on what she values, and how those values might guide her future. When I asked the girls how they choose their friends they all seemed to have similar responses that regarded things like clothes, personalities, and similar interests. In most first world countries this seems to be the case but each place has a little twist that offers originality. For Edmonton it was the lac of illegal substances. When I asked this question in the US, drugs and alcohol have been a prevalent influence. Many girls say they “stay away from the girls who do drugs” or some girls have even confessed to making sure they “hang out with the people who can throw a good party with drinks and weed” but nothing of that type was ever mentioned in Canada.
“I look at what she wears or I see if she is pretty.” Said a twelve-year-old girl. “If they like One Direction clothes I’ll be friends with them” A little excessive talk about boy bands and clothing is always better than drugs. “I like everyone, if they are nice to me, I will be nice to them” said another.
After hearing what brought the girls of Edmonton together I was interested to hear what usually caused friendship difficulties and drama.
“When my friends and I get in fights its always about boys or popularity,” said a high school girl. I know many high school girls that tend to get worked up over these things and hold grudges for a long time.
“If two girls like the same boy they will hate each other” said an Edmonton girl. There are little rules that all girls are expected to know and follow, the term that bounces around the high school hallways for these rules is “Girl Code.” If any of these strict rules are broken, girls are sure to start an uproar, which causes many girls to become enemies and many to form new friendships as they rally and take sides.
Canada seemed to be very similar in the youth social setup as the United Stares. No matter where you are, the high school fish pond can seem rather small. I’m looking forward to the Ocean of collage, and the professional world that follows.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tips for mom's as summer approaches

As summer approaches, Mothers are often bombarded with questions about scheduling play-dates. Encouraging and supporting connections with friends over the summer is important, but many Mothers are surprised that this additional time with friends does not always bring girls closer. Here are some helpful summer tips:

1. When summer boredom sets in, coupled with missing school friends, social media can become a vehicle of misuse. Monitor and be aware of what forms of social media your daughter is using and take time to explore these sites together.

2. Keep a journal . . . together! The concept is simple: Mother and daughter exchange the journal and each can write thoughts, worries, questions, or even encouragement.

3. Your daughter is always watching! Model good friendship habits when you interact with your friends.

4. Make it a date! Once a week have a "date" with your daughter! Do something fun, just the two of you! This will be a great opportunity to talk about friendship issues your daughter may be facing.

5. Hit the library! There are many excellent books for girls about friendship. Encourage your daughter to check out a book on friendship and have your own "book club" just the two of you or even with some of your daughter's friends.

Remember that your daughter needs the opportunity to experience struggles in friendship to grow, learn, and ultimately become confident in her friendships. Instead of dreading the summer drama this year, look forward to new opportunities to support your daughter!

Liza A. Kalloz, M.Ed.
School Counselor