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A Gathering of Grandmothers & Granddaughters Re: All Things Female

African American news - things young teen girls should knowAfrican American news - Rites of Passage event with grandmothers and granddaughters a success and developed an "every girl should know" listMy granddaughter, Ife, visited during the summer (of 2009). As is our custom when she visits, we like to talk about our lives. This time she asked me questions about my relationship with her grandfather when we were younger. Ife was 16, and I realized that she was of that age where young girls are curious about these things, as they begin their dating and boyfriend experiences. At once, I became very concerned. She is all grown up. She is beautiful and shapely, and I know boys and men were checking her out. I wanted her to know everything I knew, at that moment, so that she may make informed and good choices for herself and not succumb to the pitfalls so many young girls fall into.

The idea hit me of having some type of discussion group with her and other women. Then, I expanded the idea to include other girls her age. As I continued to develop the idea in my head, I came up with a sort of "rites of passage" for young girls. I thought I could invite my friends who are grandmothers and their granddaughters to come and discuss "all things female."

I shared the idea with Ife and she thought it was great. I began planning and made an outline. However, Ife returned to South Carolina sooner than I expected, so I tabled the meeting to when she would return for her Christmas visit.

When the Christmas holidays came, I set into motion plans for our gathering of grandmothers and granddaughters. We met at the Embassy Suites, as I wanted to meet in a comfortable setting where we could have complete privacy. I asked the women to each bring a potluck dish to share, and I asked the girls to bring a pillow and some water.

We met on Sunday afternoon, a couple days after Christmas in the afternoon. There were eight women and eight girls. The girls were aged 16 & 17. After refreshments the session began. The girls were each given a notebook with various exercises that they were to complete. Their first exercise was to interview each other. Their second exercise was to write a detailed description of the woman each girl wanted to be when she grew up. And their third exercise was for each girl to write a description of her perfect guy for her. While the girls did the exercises, the women went over a list of topics to be discussed.

The girls returned and introduced each other and told us about those they interviewed. We had a guest speaker who is a nurse to discuss with the girls, health, nutrition, hygiene and sex. The girls completed their final exercise of selecting the choice of clothing they would wear to: school, a game, a party, church, a date, etc., by pasting pages from magazines of various clothes, shoes and accessories. We then discussed the ensemble they chose. We also had another guest speaker a young man who presented them with "a guy's perspective" of girls their age. He discussed self respect and setting goals and had the girls share what they had written about their perfect guy.

This was very enjoyable and rewarding for both the girls and the women, and we left vowing to do it again next year! From that event, I compiled a list that I think every young girl should know.

By Age 13, Every Girl Should:

• Have a calendar to schedule her activities and prioritize her time

• Know how to change and make a bed and keep her room clean and orderly

• Know how to wash, fold and iron her clothes

• Know how to make a shopping list for a meal and how to cook a meal

• Be able to follow a recipe for baking a cake or cookies

• Learn how to dress for every occasion, i.e. school, church, party, the theater, a formal event, a wedding, travel. Respect herself – don't choose slutty-type clothing

• Have a dress or suitable clothing and shoes for any occasion

• Know how to sew on a button and hem a pair or pants or a skirt.

• Wash her face every morning and every night before going to bed with a clean wash cloth

• Use moisturizer and sunscreen everyday

• Practice good hygiene, bathe daily and use deodorant

• Put on clean underwear daily and change bra's often

• Know how to comb her hair and keep her hair clean by washing it often

• Learn how to use makeup to make herself look natural

• Carry a purse with a wallet containing a school ID card, Library card, club membership cards, a photo of herself, her name, address, family contact numbers, the number of a relative and a trusted neighbor, emergency contact numbers for school counselors, the Police Department, her doctor and health/medic alert information pertaining to any health issues she has

• Learn how to defend herself (find out information or take a class)

• Know safety precautions for any situation and be aware of her surroundings

• Always lets someone know where she is going and where she is – at all times

[Ruth Hopkins is the co-publisher and managing editor of THE JOURNAL. You may reach her by phone: (626) 798-3972, or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ]


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