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"Mothering And Daughtering" Through The Teen Years: Keep The Bond Strong

Girls In The Know hosts authors Sil & Eliza Reynolds for a presentation at Kirkwood High School on Jan. 16

The mother-daughter writing team of Eliza Reynolds, left, and Sil Reynolds have penned the book "Mothering and Daughtering: Keeping Your Bond Strong through the Teen Years."

January 15, 2016
The "mothering and daughtering" duet of Sil and Eliza Reynolds is coming to Kirkwood High School on Jan. 16. The dynamic duo will detail the dynamics of keeping mother-daughter relationships intact through the precarious teen years and beyond.

Co-authors of the best-selling book, "Mothering and Daughtering: Keeping Your Bond Strong through the Teen Years," the two will present a unique conversation sponsored by Girls in the Know (GITK) and St. Louis partner Express Scripts.

"We get asked about contentious issues such as curfews, social media use, substance abuse, body image concerns, but we are really about how to establish a bond of understanding," said daughter Eliza Reynolds. "It's not that those issues are not important, but a good relationship is essential to get through a lot of those issues."

Eliza defines "daughtering" as being sympathetic to your mother and also working to give her energy. Daughters need to realize that when they just tax their mother's energy, they make it impossible for a healthy relationship to develop.

"For far too long, the emphasis in therapy and counseling has been on how to be a good mother "mothering" and not daughtering," explained Eliza Reynolds. "Daughters need to reach out and communicate. They can ask for space, when they need space; they can initiate discussion and not just reply with one-word answers in those discussions about their lives."

Mother Sil Reynolds has her own definition of good mothering. Ideally, it will include trying to understand the body, brain, nervous system and the "emotional intelligence" of a pre-teen and teen-age daughter.

"Mothers need to show up as the adult in this relationship, and not try to be a peer or a best friend," said Sil Reynolds. "It's important to know that daughters are going through phases. They are going to go 'out there' into the world and they will try out new identities, and as a mother, you may not like some of these identities.

"Mothers need to establish home as a safe place, where daughters can come back and discuss with them what happened 'out there.' Home has to be a place where a daughter feels she has an ally and someone she can open up with safely," added Sil Reynolds.

"Helicopter Mothers"

The best-selling book by authors Sil and Eliza Reynolds is divided in two. Mother Sil takes one half, and daughter Eliza takes the other half. The duo will be discussing their book and ways to keep a strong mother-daughter bond during the teen years at the Jan. 16 presentation at Kirkwood High School.

Sil Reynolds said the news media have made too much of the phenomena of "helicopter mothers" who hover over every aspect of their millennial teens' lives. She said there needs to be a proper balance between providing independence as well as some vital care and concern.

"The media have totally overblown this 'helicopter' thing," said Sil Reynolds. "Of course, mothers should not hover. But they also need to be there and to communicate in a frank and genuine fashion."

Daughter Eliza chimed in and noted that mothers need to accept that almost all daughters go through dark days. She writes about this in the book when she refers to the poets' idea of "the dark night of the soul," an interval that can afflict all pre-teen and teen daughters.

"A mother in these situations should not be asking: 'Where's that smile? Why aren't you smiling?'" noted Eliza Reynolds. "Actual good mothering means asking: 'Why are you sad? Is there something I can do?'

"And a daughter has a responsibility to the relationship to not just blow it off and say, 'I'm fine.' If you're not so good, come out and explain why you are not feeling so good," Eliza Reynolds insisted.

Clinical Research Center
Sil Reynolds mentioned tragic cases in which daughters have been bullied mercilessly over body image issues. Their mothers are in complete shock when suicides or self-destructive behavior results. They just never knew what was actually happening to their daughters in and outside of school.

Mother Sil and daughter Eliza have been doing their conversation duets for about a decade. They don't hold back and can even get a little scrappy with each other. Their book is divided in two — with two covers — with daughter taking one half of the book and mother taking the other half.

"It is our passion indeed what feels to be a combined life purpose to guide mothers and daughters into strengthening their bond through the teen years and beyond," said Sil Reynolds, a nurse practitioner and psychotherapist.

Kirkwood Event

Sil and Eliza will conduct their therapeutic conversation duet to an auditorium full of moms and daughters at Kirkwood High School starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16. Khalia Collier, owner of the St. Louis Surge, will emcee the event and KMOV anchor Emily Rau will moderate the conversation with the authors.

"As a mother of a 21-year-old daughter, I know the importance of providing the tools and resources for young girls to be successful," said Susan Stith, senior director of diversity inclusion and corporate giving for event co-sponsor Express Scripts. "The programs that Girls In The Know provides are instrumental in helping girls develop a strong sense of self."

General admission for the Saturday event is $25 for teens and $30 for moms. Walk-ins are welcome. For more information call Gina Marten of Girls in the Know at 314-717-1270 or go to www.girlsintheknow.org.

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