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Program helps teen girls, moms communicate
Teens learn to respect themselves
Christine Shaheen, left, and Kristen Green give a presentation on mother-daughter communications Saturday during the Girl Power seminar. - photo by Tom Reed

Talking with your teenage daughter about dating and body image isn't always an easy conversation.

Girl Power, hosted by WomenSource, hoped to open the lines of communication between mother and daughter Saturday in Gainesville.

This was the first time WomenSource held a meeting specifically for teens and the women who love them. Women and teens attended presentations about Internet safety, finance, healthy body image, relationships and communication.

"There is certainly a communication breakdown between mothers and daughters so that was a great part of the program," said Robyn Lynch, programming committee chairwoman.

The women and teens split up for presentations that fit their group's perspective.

"I think that was an exciting part, being separated. I think the girls felt like they could ask questions without their moms in the room," Lynch said.

Beth Swenson brought her 11-year-old daughter, Lisa, to the event hoping to learn how to maintain communication since her daughter recently started middle school.

"You don't want to tell your mom everything but I think that is key to keeping her safe. Every situation we talked about today, finances or Internet safety or rape, it's all about that communication," Swenson said.

Lisa agrees with her mother.

"You should always talk with your parents about things at school," Lisa said.

Many of the girls who attended the event were surprised to learn that Facebook and other social media sites can put them in potentially dangerous situations.

"I'm always on Facebook. Sometimes I do need to watch what I put on there and who I talk to," Tanesha Baber, 16, said.

In addition to Internet safety and communication the teens learned the importance of respecting themselves. They discussed self-worth as a tool to a successful life.

Kathy Mellette works with teens as North Coordinator for Hall County Honors Mentorship Program. Her presentation taught the girls how to invest in themselves and talked about career and life skills.

As Mellette explains why it is so important for teenage girls to empower themselves, her eyes get misty.

"It really bothers me to see how many of them just settle and get defeated and live pointless lives. Their self-esteem is ruined. They give up the dream," Mellette said.

Mellette said she hopes that girls can avoid a lot of problems by exploring their goals and taking charge or their lives and education.

"My biggest goal is that they can live up to their potential. That they have the confidence to take charge of their future and take the time to really recognize their strengths and develop them."


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