The news that shocked dads of middle school girls

27 fathers and their middle school aged daughters met for a three-day retreat recently, and the dads left shocked at their “little girl’s” revelations. They had no idea of the magnitude of the pressures the girls were facing, especially when it came to body image. Here is what the girls shared with their dads. First notice how many different pressures the girls said they were facing: getting … [Read more...]

The largest stressor for 8th grade girls? You’ll be surprised!

I recently asked a group of 8th grade girls what was causing them the most stress in their lives, and I think you will be surprised by their answers. It wasn’t girl drama, getting along with their parents, or even their looming entry into high school. No, the real culprit was college! You heard me right; college. Let me give you their exact quotes on what was stressing them out about college at … [Read more...]

Designer Lockers

School is just around the corner, and kids are starting to dread/think about the upcoming year. An article in the St.Louis Post Dispatch paper caught my eye yesterday, and I wanted to run it by you for your thoughts. Aisha Sultan wrote about a new phenomenon; designer school lockers. Parents and their tweens are forking over larger and larger wads of cash to decorate school lockers, and it has … [Read more...]

Adolescent Girls Lose Self-Esteem? I Don’t Buy It!!

We have been reading in the literature since the 1970's that girls starting in middle school lose their self-esteem and don't get it back for years.  But from my experiences working with girls at these ages, I don't buy this mantra. I wrote in a recent blog about our "spa night" at our all-girls camp, trying to capture the spirit of that week.  What girls have demonstrated to me over and … [Read more...]

A Spa Night at Camp

I just finished spending a week with 50 girls going into the 5th-9th grade at my Strong Girls Strong World Camp. When I told people what I was going to be up to, most of them rolled their eyes and and said something to the effect of: "Why would anyone want to spend a week with hormonal girls embroiled in mega-drama?" Actually, why would you NOT want to hang with girls of this age? By the way, … [Read more...]

Our Kids Are Okay

If you ever get worried about the state of affairs of our youth today, just do what I did tonight; go to the musical Grease put on by an eighth grade class.  Really. This group had been together since kindergarten, so in many ways they act like brothers and sisters.  But what impressed me so deeply was their spirit. Watching them sing the 60's songs was like going back in time.  And you would … [Read more...]


I was struck with something the actress Leslie Mann said in an interview in the December 21, 2013 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Here is a quote from the article: "When I was little, my family said, 'you know, when kids aren't attractive, sometimes they grow up to be attractive, she says.' But I don't see myself as pretty. My face is weird and long. I do weird things with my mouth and I have a … [Read more...]

Middle Schoolers and Instagram Don’t Mix

There was another new story recently about someone at a local middle school misusing a social networking site to bully fellow students, this time Instagram. Which begs the question, at least for me: why are middle school aged kids  allowed on such sites in the 1st place? I work with kids this age a lot; in my counseling practice, and also especially in my retreats and camps for middle school … [Read more...]

Are Teachers Harder On Girls?

The old logic held that teachers were harder on boys and that boys got into trouble a lot more than girls. I ran a weekend retreat recently for middle school girls and they had a different perspective on this issue. These girls felt like teachers were much harder on the girls because they had much higher expectations for girls academically. Girls saw evidence each day that boys were less … [Read more...]

Girls Need Sacred Spaces!

I have a weekend retreat coming up in a few weeks for middle school girls, and it reminds me of how important it is for all girls and women, but perhaps most importantly for girls in this age group, to have safe, sacred spaces to share their stories. Girls, much more so than boys, are wired to connect. And as their estrogen starts to rise as preteens, their hormones prime that connecting pump … [Read more...]