FAQ's about the Mother-Daughter Project

What is the Mother-Daughter Project?

The MDP began as a small group of mothers and girls dedicated to discovering ways mothers and daughters could stay close and thrive together through adolescence. The original group then authorized founding members Renee Schultz and SuEllen Hamkins to bring that hopeful message to the wider world. Through their book, this website and their ongoing presentations, Renee and SuEllen continue to nurture the original mission of the MDP: helping girls, mothers, and mother-daughter relationships all thrive.

Why is mother-daughter connection important for adolescent girls?

Mother-daughter connection through adolescence is good for girls, and it is what girls really want. Girls long to have good relationships with their mothers, in which they are respected for their growing maturity and individuality and where they can get the love and support they need to make it through the jungle of teen culture. Girls best discover who they are in the context of caring relationships. Healthy maturity means developing both greater autonomy and deeper, more meaningful connections with loved ones. We want mothers to know that they can continue the close and loving relationships they have with their daughters when they are little right through their teen years and into adulthood.

What do we mean by thrive?

To us, thriving means having the support and opportunities we need to discover who we are and to create lives based on what we care most about.

How is the Mother-Daughter Project different from other pro-girl or pro-mother organizations?

We have a win-win-win focus on girls, mothers and their relationships all thriving at the same time. Our intention is not for you to do even more as a mother - it's for you to get the help and support you need to raise a daughter in a dangerous world and to thrive yourself as a person and to stay close with your daughter. We have found that addressing the needs of mothers, girls and their relationships simultaneously is easier, more effective and more fun than taking them on separately.

Why is joining with other mothers and daughters important?

Mothers and daughters can do together what one mother alone cannot: create a lively subculture that simultaneously nurtures mothers, girls, and mother-daughter connection. Teens need to fit in with their peers. When we offer our daughters a chance to have fun with other girls and moms who share our values, they're thrilled.

Who do we mean by "mother"?

A mother is anyone who identifies as a woman who is given or takes on the responsibility of raising a child. We include mothering through adoption, foster care, co-mothering among lesbian partners, co-parenting with divorced spouses or step-parents, sole mothering, biological mothering, grandmothers who are mothering their grandchildren, as well as the many other ways in which women nurture beloved children. We honor the ways in which our opportunities to mother as we would like have been constrained by limited financial resources or by racism, homophobia, classism, gender identity, or ability discrimination, and we honor our dedication and resourcefulness as we nurture children creatively regardless of the challenges.

Why the focus on mothers and daughters?

Women who are parents are subject to powerful messages and constraints that men who are parents are not. What it means to be a good mother is entirely different than what it means to be a good father. While the work of parenting by people of all genders is interconnected and issues related to fathering are important and compelling, our focus in the MDP is on women who parent—that is, mothers. Likewise, daughters
are subject to ideas and situations that sons are not. We appreciate the ways in which gender is socially constructed, and it is the impact of exactly those constructions on the lives of those who identify as mothers and daughters that is our focus. We intend to stand alongside and support other projects on parents and children of all genders, but here we shine the spotlight on mothers and daughters.

How can I join?

Any mother or girl who wants girls, mothers and their relationships to thrive is already part of our community and the worldwide movement that it is inspiring.

We encourage girls and women to connect with another mother and daughter or to form mother-daughter groups that meet their needs and bring them joy and laughter. See How to Start a Mother-Daughter Group for specific ideas and instructions.