Moms, girls tackle tough questions

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— Middle school students Lindsey Yost and Emily Hannah only had enough time to answer half of the questions posed to them by 40 soon-to-be sixth-grade girls who attended the fourth annual Mother-Daughter Day on Saturday.

The girls asked questions such as "Is remembering your locker combination hard?" and "Are the showers safe?"

"They started off with school questions, then there was one about boys, and then they were all about boys and puberty after that," said Yost, an eighth-grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School.

Mother-Daughter Day, coordinated by Steamboat resident Jen Fritz, was an opportunity for the fifth-graders and their moms to ask questions and get answers about self-esteem, nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

The annual event is geared toward rising sixth grade girls and their mothers because girls tend to pull away from their parents at that age, spending more time with friends and encountering challenging issues such as puberty.

Yost and Hannah, who have experienced the tough transition from elementary to middle school, gave the girls advice.

"It seems like you're so scared to go into sixth grade, but once you're there, it's so fun -- much more fun than elementary school," said Hannah, a sixth-grader. "It's not hard because all the teachers are really nice to you."

Middle school counselor Margi Briggs-Casson said many of the concerns expressed by the future middle schoolers were about handling the schoolwork load and questions about the social scene, mechanics of school, peer pressures, extracurricular activities and, of course, boys and dances.

"You don't have to be boyfriend and girlfriend with a boy if you dance with him one time," Yost said.

After attending Mother-Daugh--ter Day on Saturday, fifth-grader Brooke Metzler said her fears about entering middle school have subsided.

"I was worried about going to another school and not knowing my way around," she said. "I'm not quite as afraid about going to middle school now."

School nurse Dot Haberlan said the session she gave for mothers"opened the door to talk about subjects that moms really worry about and are hard to broach one on one." Topics included Internet safety, tobacco, drugs and alcohol, how to keep safe in a mobile society and how to be involved in their daughter's business but still respect their privacy, she said.

Haberlan understands the difficulties of raising a daughter.

"It's hard being a parent. You feel like you're on a tidal wave," Haberlan said. "As a parent, we want to know about the safety of our kids and want to help our daughters become healthy, productive women."

For the mothers who attended the session, the benefits of Mother-Daughter Day went beyond addressing issues.

"It's nice to know that I'm not the only one asking my daughter all of these questions," Janette Thielmann said. "Other moms do the same thing."

Lynn Finkbohnner said Moth--er-Daughter Day was a great opportunity to reinforce things she has been talking to her daughter about.

"I came to make sure we are on the right track of what she needs to know -- the dos and don'ts of growing up -- and to see if I was missing anything because I'm a single parent," she said. "My mom gave me a pamphlet and said, 'Read this,' and that was it. I couldn't talk to her about stuff in the real world. Because my mom never gave this to me, I will give it to my daughter."

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