Sunday, September 6, 2015

Brave Girls - Read 52 Books in 52 Week - Week 36

For the 36th week in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read Brave Girls - Raising Young Women with Passion and Purpose to Become Powerful Leaders by Stacey Radin.

I was curious about this book both as a parent of two daughters (ages 12 and 14) as well as 4-H club leader.  Some of the passages that stood out for me included:
- Adolescence is the stage of life most marked by identity development. The overriding quest is to answer the daunting question "Who am I?" 
- Most after-school programs focus on elementary-school children or high school and college women, rendering middle school a developmental purgatory.

Never be afraid to innovate.
Embrace your power; 
you were meant to do great things in the world.
Lead by example.

Invest in building a strong sense of community.
Follow your moral compass, 
never veering from your values.
You have the capacity to be a hero.
Respect and promote diversity.

Encourage others to leverage their passion 
so they, too, can create impact.

- Middle school girls are greatly in need of intimacy with and connection to others. Girls thrive in supportive social settings...they are able to better assert their independence when they eel connected; and attachment to others is a vital component of their identity.
- Give girls a sheet of paper that lists fifty values (family, beauty, education, honesty, self-confidence) and ask the girls to circle those that appeal to them, gradually narrowing it down to their top five. What values resonate most with them and how do they manifest those in various aspects of their lives? Powerful and ethical leaders know their values, align their behavior to correspond to those values, and recognize when they are straying.
- It can be confusing to adults: one minute, these preteens want to be perceived as older and capable of more responsibility; the very next, they are clamoring to climb into bed with their mom.
- Ask girls "If you were 65 years old an sitting on a park bench and a stranger sat down next to you and asked you about your life, what would you tell them?" Aspirations and dreams are significant aspects of developing a sense of self.
- Girls need and deserve female-centric safe spaces to develop, mature, and cultivate intimate relationships with other girls an women. Are there opportunities for girls to develop a sense of sisterhood? Is she spending time in any all-female environments where she can interact with different types of female and tap into her passions?
- Strengths serve many purpose: they motivate her to broaden her repertoire of skills; they equip her to manage adversity; they create a foundation for the development of additional strengths. The ability to articulate one's strengths is highly correlated with self-confidence, mastery, and self-worth.

Educating the mind without educating the heart 
is not education at all.
- Aristotle

- Resilient girls are optimistic. They refuse to define themselves by failure, nor do they give up in less than ideal circumstances. These girls are more apt to be energetic and passionate, determined and persistent.
- When a middle school girl is challenged by a difficult moment or task, give them permission to struggle. Coach them to continue independently, encouraging them to take a risk. Life is full of challenges; these early experiences will prepare them for the future.
- Emotionally intelligent girls and women are more assertive, confident enough to directly express their feelings, positive about themselves, searching for a deeper purpose in their lives.
- Regularly encourage girls to speak their minds and advocate for themselves.
- Coach girls to articulate their messages in powerful, concise ways. Often girls circumvent the main point, adding extraneous details or providing a rationale for every piece of their story, diluting the meaning of their words. If the girls are doing this, say, "Tell me the same story in three sentences." most people have a short attention span. This technique helps the girls to be more direct in their communication.
- Why do girls bully? When a girl (or grown woman) feels powerless, regardless of underlying reasons, she will seek opportunities to regain it, no matter what the circumstances. most think bullies suffer from low self-esteem, but what is more often the case is that the tormentor feels powerless in some way, whether it is due to family conflicts, a changing body, unhappiness in her peer relationships, academic troubles, or feeling less than when it comes to her looks, weight, or material possessions.
- Girls need more real-life role models so they don't look to fictitious characters for inspiration. These positive role models should be unique, powerful, confident, and authentic.
- Girls crave opportunities that foster a sense of responsibility and initiative. They overwhelmingly report wanting to effect change and be considered role models.
- Investing in girls produces the greatest return in economic development, social progress, and public health.
- Ask girls: "What do you feel passionate about? What issues would you change if you could? What organizations and/or causes resonate most with you and why? What would you need to begin creating change in your own community?
- Whether it's on a large or small scale, impact cannot occur without engaging a community of invested individuals. There is undeniable strength in numbers: dramatic societal shifts and sustainable change do not happen without support from others.

Alone we can do so little,
together we can do so much.
- Helen Keller

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