Mother-Daughter Day helps ease transition

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— Jennifer Fritz would have given every penny in her piggy bank to have had the opportunity to ask middle school students questions before she started sixth grade.

"I wish I had been able to ask somebody instead of having nightmares about my locker combination all summer," said Fritz, event coordinator for the fourth annual Mother-Daughter Day.

Mother-Daughter Day, which is May 13, is designed to strengthen the bond between mothers and daughters and provide a forum to ask questions before the girls' transition into middle school. The program includes sessions to address self-esteem, healthy bodies and nutrition and lifestyle.

School nurse Dot Haberlan will talk about the girls' changing bodies and what they can expect during puberty.

"She's superb about talking about the basics of puberty and making everyone feel comfortable," Fritz said.

Mothers and daughters will be separated during the second session, during which a panel of experts will lead discussions with each group. The daughters will have the chance to write down questions for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders and middle school counselor Margi Briggs-Casson about middle school.

Common questions include, "Are my friends still gonna be my friends?" and "If I don't want to dance with a boy, do I have to?" Fritz said. "They are so cute and ask the same questions every year."

The mothers' panel will include a representative from Advocates Against Battering and Abuse, a nutritionist and Jan Fritz, a mother of three daughters who went through the Steamboat Springs School District system. The nutritionist will cover warning signs of eating disorders and the importance of drinking milk and water instead of soda, Fritz said.

Olympic skier and Steamboat Springs resident Caroline Lalive will lead the day's final presentation, which will address how to maintain a balance between goals and activities. She also will address nutrition. "She will explain why it is important not just to eat French fries," Fritz said.

The last part of the day will be a letter-writing activity led by Jennifer Fritz. Mothers and daughters will write letters identifying three things they like about each other and three things that they like to do with each other, Fritz said. Those letters will be mailed six months later to reaffirm the lessons of the event.

Chris Brookshire attended the event two years ago and was touched when she read the letter from her daughter Hayley.

"I saved the letter, and I know that she still has hers," Brookshire said. "It gave me an idea of what she was thinking at the time."

Fritz understands that the topics to be discussed can be difficult for girls, especially when they are next to their moms. But she said it will be beneficial for mothers and daughters to understand the implications of the transition.

"It's a big change for them going into middle school, and they are going through a lot with their friendships when they go into sixth grade," Brookshire said.

The event is hosted by New Frontiers, which is funded by a grant from the Women's Foundation of Northwest Colo--rado. Residents should RSVP to Heidi Barbee at 879-8635 or e-mail info@yvcf.org.

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