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Macomb Township

February 20, 2013

Township to host mother-daughter friendship-building program

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

MACOMB TOWNSHP — The widely held belief is that middle school-age daughters won’t talk with their mothers about social issues because girls no longer considers moms to be cool.

Mary Jo Gaddie, who was a school counselor for 11 years before starting a private practice in family therapy, said that is not true.

“There are a lot of common mistakes that moms make that cause their daughter to stop talking to them,” Gaddie said.

She instead thinks the lack of dialogue stems from miscommunication starting as early as first grade.

“The kids will still continue to go to (their mothers) if they feel they are listening to them and giving them good advice,” she said.

To help mothers communicate with their daughters and to help girls in first grade to middle school cope with relationships at school, Gaddie will host a series of workshops beginning in March.

The workshops, Gaddie said, will work to provide girls with tools to build self-esteem and help them develop healthier friendships. Simultaneously, Gaddie will teach mothers how to talk with their daughters so that the mother is the first person a girl turns to for help in times of social crises.

The first event will be 10 a.m.-noon March 9 for mothers and daughters in first through third grades, said Michelle Duda, the Parks and Recreation Department’s recreation program leader. The same day, from 1-3 p.m., Gaddie will host another workshop for girls in grades four through six and their mothers. Both sessions will be held at the Marvin Blank Senior Center. The deadline for registration is Feb. 28, but that may be extended, Duda said.

Then there will be a program just for middle school girls — no mothers — that will be held April 10, 17 and 24 at the recreation center. Gaddie said the middle-school program will focus on developing safe relationships and how to protect online reputations. The registration deadline for the series is April 3.

Gaddie said that, during her time as a school counselor, she recognized a decline in schoolgirls’ social skills.

“What I noticed is kids’ social skills seem to be not as good as they used to be,” she said. “They don’t really know how to make friends anymore.”

Her classes hope to teach young children, particularly the shy ones at the first- through third-grade level, how to find friends.

She said it is important for girls at that age to develop friend-finding skills because, as they approach middle school, it will only become harder.

At the same time, mothers need to learn not to always fix the problems for their daughters. Instead, Gaddie said, the mother should learn to be a good listener and coach.

“So often, the girls just really need their moms to listen,” Gaddie said.

She said mothers often want to intervene in situations their daughters are dealing with at school. But because that method usually exacerbates the problem, that will only cause the daughters to be scared to talk with their mothers in the future.

“Of course, there are times when we have to get involved, but in most cases, we don’t.” Gaddie said. “If you can, sit back, keep the lines of communication open and make them not scared to come to you.”

The cost for the March 9 events is $30 per mother-daughter pair and $15 for each additional daughter. The unregistered fee is $35.

For the middle-school sessions beginning April 10, all three events cost $90 per person and $95 without registration.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.