Raising strong girls (giveaway!)

Grace is hurtling towards adolescence with a speed that routinely makes me catch my breath.  It feels like yesterday I shared this piece about what I wanted her to know as she turned ten, and I actually wrote it two years ago.  When I hug her now the top of her head doesn’t even fit comfortably under my chin.  It’s very easy to mix up our pants when I’m folding laundry, and I can squeeze into her shoes, no problem.  I feel as though I’m entering a new, shaky season of motherhood, one more fraught and perilous than even the infant months which were very difficult for me.

I’m guided by a few key principles and one is to help Grace continue to feel good about herself as she moves into a time famously full of self-esteem pitfalls.  I am always looking for resources to support an environment of strength and positivity.  One area I’d love to see some innovation – and have thought about this as something I should do! – is clothing for tween girls.  There must be a middle ground between Justice and J.Crew?  Something that’s appealing to my daughter without forcing me to wade through the perfume-drenched, spring-break-bikini-athon that is Abercrombie?  Here are some of the resources that are front of mind for us right now.  If you have other suggestions and ideas, I would welcome them!


Grace reads a lot, and the books she reads often feature strong female role models.  I love Young Adult as a category and often read alongside her.  A few recent ones that we have both loved:

The Fault in Our Stars – Hazel might be my favorite narrator of all time.  Literally, of all time.  Funny, brilliant, honest, optimistic despite her situation.

Gathering Blue – The second book in Lois Lowry’s Giver quartet (which I worship), this is Grace’s favorite.  She chose to do her last book report of the year on it.  The narrator, Kira, is brave, human, and deeply relatable.

The Hunger Games (Book 1) – The book’s not new, but I only recently let Grace read it.  I think Katniss is a terrific role model, for her strength and courage, for the loyalty to her family, for her fierce love for and protection of Prim and others.

I read with enthusiasm about Allison Winn Scotch’s new endeavor, Moms Read Best, which will be a book referral and suggestion site focused on children.  I’m really looking forward to finding new titles to add to this list for Grace and also to find books that will capture Whit’s imagination.


Firebugs is a monthly book subscription service catered for girls ages 3-9 and their parents. Founded by seven women at Harvard Business School, their mission is to inspire confidence and leadership potential from an early age through enhanced story time, with themes like building confidence and self-esteem as well as analytical skills development. While this is too young for Grace, I love what the company is doing, and again, like supporting female entrepreneurs.  I am thrilled to offer $5 off a one-month ($15) Firebugs subscription to the first 10 to comment!

I’ve written about how much I love GiftLit, another book subscription site, and I love the empowering angle that Firebugs has put on this idea.


I share founder Megan Grassell‘s horror at the over-sexualized underwear available for tween girls.  I’ve been shocked to see padded bras and bikini tops and a host of options that don’t feel right at all.  I love what she’s doing with Yellowberry, love the product, love the mission, love the message, and also love being able to support an entrepreneurial teen girl.  I will certainly be purchasing some Yellowberry products.

Do you have ideas, wisdom, or suggestions for me, as I forge ahead into this scary and uncharted territory of parenting a tween?


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  1. Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    I’ve never heard of Firebug, I’m excited to learn more. MY daughter is nine and loves to read, and I’m always asking for suggestions. Yes, building confidence and self esteem is so important, especially with middle school looming on the horizon!

  2. Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    You know I share every one of your concerns and wishes. Our girls are in such a tricky spot right now. The clothing is just crazy. Caroline and I spent four hours at the mall (painful!) a few weekends ago and were only able to find a few things that she liked and were appropriate. I actually let her try on the super short jean shorts and even she agreed they just weren’t what she wanted to put on her body. I feel there is such a void in the world of the tween- clothing, tv, magazines and even books. It takes a very knowledgeable parent/teacher to find books that are full of strong female protagonists but still appropriate for these girls. Also, I just learned about Yellowberry last week and will most definitely be ordering. And read about Moms Read Best when you posted on Facebook and am in love! Also, thrilled to learn about Firebugs- Katherine just turned 8 so hoping I can find some inspiration there for her. Great post!!!

  3. Posted April 23, 2014 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Oh, Lindsey, I feel so close behind you that I can touch Grace’s shadow. Thank you for sharing your beautiful ache and hope.

  4. Melissa
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Sign me up for firebugs please! Perfect age range for my book-loving girls! I am glad you are navigating this terrain before me. I will eagerly soak up your insights and advice. And please get that clothing line up and running ASAP. I’m already struggling with age 8 — do the shorts really have to be that short, gap?

  5. Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Thanks for all the great suggestions! Emma blows through books and I am constantly scouring the library for challenging material that is appropriate for a 2nd grader. It’s a tricky balance;) I LOVED The Fault in Our Stars. Still too old for Emma, but I am YA lit junkie.

    And as for the clothes….ugh. Nightmare. Emma started wearing a uniform this year and it is a gift from God.

    Great post!

  6. Maria
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I too have a daughter who will be turning 10 soon. The whole idea of tweenhood scares me. I love that your daughter is the sane age as her because you share so much insight. Thank you.

  7. Robin
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    The Firebugs subscription sounds awesome for my almost-reader! Thanks!

  8. Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Grace may find, if she hasn’t already read it, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I have always loved Spinelli’s books, with my favorite, prior to being given Stargirl as a gift, being Maniac McGee.

  9. Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I have two boys but love this post. Just discovered Yellowberry a few days ago (and tweeted about it–rock on, Megan).

    We’ll be facing a different set of challenges in a couple of years but I do not envy you. I hate what I see out there for tween girl clothing.

  10. Lori Ray
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I was just having a conversation with my 7 year old this morning about things she knows about the way a woman’s body works. I was nervous and shaking inside while keeping my cool on the outside. Thanks for the book sites…plan on visiting them today.

  11. Jessica Clay
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I would love to try out Firebug! My daughter is a voracious reader & I’m always looking for new things for her to read!

  12. Posted April 23, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Oh, I’m worried about those years for my girl! I can still feel the itch and discomfort and fear that I endured as an adolescent (including how hard it was to find my first bra!! Love yellow berry) and all that I put my mother through… My girl is on the cusp of six and I’d love to start empowering her now with Firebugs. Thanks for passing on your wisdom, it’s very appreciated.

  13. Posted April 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Mine is 16 now. The tween years are challenging! I can say that parenting feels easier now than it did during the middle school years. I think your best tool is the one you’ve already established: open communication. I feel so fortunate that my daughter has never stopped talking with me. It has gotten her/us through the rough and tricky spots.

    I love all the YA books you listed. If you both like Katniss, you might also like Divergent. I only read the first book–and I liked Hunger Games better–but I think you’ll appreciate the mother/daughter relationship in that one. I also recently finished Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal. It’s both grown-up and childlike at the same time. (Much like most tweens I’ve ever known.) I think you might like it.

    admin Reply:

    I will definitely check out Far, Far Away. I read Divergent and loved it, and Grace read it too (I JUST let her) and liked it a lot too. I felt that if I listed that and also Hunger Games on this post I’d be too post-acopalyptic, etc, but I did like Divergent a lot (liked 2 and 3 less).

  14. Posted April 23, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Eloise has reached the age that, sadly, I don’t even know what she’s reading anymore. JUST A LOT. ALLTHEBOOKS. ALLOVERTHEPLACE. Sometimes she will throw one to me and say “You would enjoy this.” The last one she threw my way was Matched by Allie Condie. Love what Megan is doing with Yellowberry. We probably won’t buy just because $40 for a training bra is more than I have even spent on a bra – ever..and Justice(sorry) has similar ones for $8. And being a AAA myself, I can also wear the ones from Justice. lol But I wish for the same entrepreneurial spirit for my daughters. xoxo

    admin Reply:

    Agreed very pricey … I just love what she’s doing and hope Grace is similarly confident and bold!! xoxo

  15. Posted April 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I love your posts. Since I have a 12-year-old, this post is especially apt for me. I write for ParentMap and this recent article talks about new rituals for tweens. I wrote it when looking for ways to keep fomenting closeness between my daughter and I. Check out the companion piece by a 13-year-old I know, too. She writes about the coming-of-age circle she belongs to. Here’s the link. I hope you find helpful info in there: http://www.parentmap.com/article/rite-of-way-coming-of-age-rituals-for-a-new-generation

  16. Posted April 23, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    No ideas because you’re ahead of me, but I will to you of guidance in a few years. Meanwhile, wasn’t it so impressive that Allison was like, “Hmm, I have an idea” and two seconds later had the site up!? 🙂

  17. Cynthia
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, the firebugs mag sounds wonderful for my almost five year old daughter!

  18. Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Oh boy. Where do I begin.

    The best thing I can say is to always go with your gut and stick to your guns. You know deep down what you need to do right by your daughter yet those around you will make you feel like a fish going upstream. I say swim harder and faster and flip them the bird as you scoff at their lack of individuality. 🙂

    Grace may be left out of some things because you choose not to let her “go with the flow” but I bet those parents actually wished they had the guts to stick to their guns like you do. I’m not saying be the helicopter parent but really listen to what your intuition tells when you are debating on whether to let Grace do something, wear something, or even read something. Every child is different but only you know your daughter best. Don’t let anyone make you feel alone for choosing something different for Grace then what “the whole school” or “all her friends” are doing.

    My daughter was very obedient and never questioned our decisions until middle school. Then everything became “why not?” or “Everyone else’s parents let them.” or something more tantrum-y. It’s just a phase as they try to establish some independence yet fit in the crowd at school. But I have a feeling Grace is an old soul and has herself all figured out.

    You are going to be a great tween mom!

  19. Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the Firebug info – I just signed up! And as always, thank you for being such a guiding light.

  20. Posted April 24, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Hazel is one of my favorite narrators, too. LOVE. THAT. BOOK. 🙂