What do you do when your daughter turns 13, you’re hosting her party at your house, and you want it to be more than just a Pinterest-worthy event for her and her closest friends?
One that’s memorable AND meaningful?
That’s what a mom who reached out to me recently wanted to know.
This was her email:
“I am having six 13-year-olds over this weekend for my daughter’s 13thbirthday party. Is there anything I can do/say that might be able to impact them while they are here? I just feel this group could use a little guidance as they navigate 7thgrade.”
Kudos to this mom for wanting to ensure that her daughter and friends walk away with a parting gift they won’t soon forget.
3 Party “Favors” Every Girl Needs
I applauded the mom for having the foresight to make her daughter’s party not only entertaining but educational.
I told her the party was a great opportunity to have engaging conversations with the girls about the struggles they may be dealing with.
And that’s the kind of party “favor” every girl could use.
So, here’s the advice I shared with the mom:
- Ask them when they think girls start to struggle with self-esteem and see where the conversation goes. Girls in my middle school classes tell me that it’s around 3rdgrade. Follow up with questions about what they think impacts how girls feel about themselves. Then ask what they think the solution is.
- Talk with them about confidence—how to tell when someone is confident, what girls can do to gain confidence, and finally how confident they are on a scale of 1-10 (1 = not confident at all, 10 = very confident). This should lead to some interesting conversation.
- Congratulate them on their friendships and tell them how proud you are that they haven’t bought into the myth that girls can’t be friends without a bunch of drama.
Since the girls were coming together to celebrate her daughter/their friend for her birthday, I encouraged the mom to really spend time talking to them about that last point.
I asked her to stress with them the importance of maintaining healthy friendships with other girls.
I then shared with her something Dr. Alduan Tartt, a psychologist, shared during an interview I conducted with him.
He said that before he’ll allow his daughter to start dating, she will need to have at least 3 solid friendships with girls.
Because he didn’t want her to make a boyfriend the center of her world or her main source for receiving positive attention.
(Check out that interview here).
And you know what?
I believe he’s spot on.
I can’t tell you how many letters I’ve received from teen girls who expected their boyfriend to validate them and/or show them attention.
Letters like this:
“Before this class, I felt like the only way to get attention was through sex and that sex was the only thing you could do to make a guy like you; but now I feel like I have more value than just having sex.” ~8thgrade girl
Thankfully, it’s been my experience that when you show girls how healthy relationships with family and friends are a far better source for validation and positive attention, they usually “get it.”
“You really opened my eyes to notice the emotional reasons that girls use to have sex. I then reflected on my own personal life, and I realized that I have an amazing family and friend support system. When I have that it keeps me from wanting to feel acceptance from guys through sex. You helped me realize why it is so easy for me to say no to sex.” ~High School Girl
It seems my advice struck a chord with the mom, who sent me this email response:
“What resonated with me the most that you shared was the idea that if girls don’t form good solid friendships, this leads to looking for validation in guys. That really hit home for me as I would make every boyfriend I had my freshman year in college the center of my world as I had no true female friendships at the time. Thank you for allowing my grown 40-year-old self to go back in time and hug the 18-year-old me. You are the best!”
And what better time to help reinforce the importance of maintaining healthy friendships than a birthday party?
I think it’s awesome this mom wanted to host a “party with a purpose” for her daughter and her friends.
One where hopefully they’ll leave better equipped, enlightened and empowered for their journey to adulthood.
When it comes to preteen and teen girls? That’s priceless!
If you were going to throw a “party with a purpose” for your daughter and her friends, what topics do you think would be important to share with them?
I’d love to hear what you think! And don’t forget to include your daughter’s age. Just leave your comment below.
P.S. I believe this mom was really on to something by wanting to make her daughter’s 13th birthday party memorable AND meaningful for her and her friends. And I encourage you to take a page out of her book. It doesn’t even have to be for a birthday. The summer break is a great time to host an impromptu “party with a purpose.” Your daughter and her friends can share ideas for boosting their self-esteem, building up their confidence and maintaining healthy friendships so they won’t feel it necessary to rely on a boyfriend for positive validation or attention. Throw in some food and music, and it’ll be a party they won’t soon forget.
P.P.S. Share this post with the parents of your daughter’s friends and let the party planning begin!