Strong relationships play a vital role in the healthy development of girls and young women. From developing confidence to discovering ways to be curious, the value of authentic connection cannot be underestimated, especially at a time that has challenged us all to find new ways to stay connected with each other.
At The Ellis School’s recent Girl Talk webinar, Close Connection in Distant Times: Fostering Strong Relationships, panelists provided insight on how cultivating positive and supportive relationships has shaped them and why it is important for girls to interact and engage with others in meaningful ways.
Here are four reasons why mentors are crucial for girls:
1. They Redefine Success
Often a mentor is not one singular person throughout a girl's whole life. Mentors can come and go in various circumstances and influence a young person in different ways. A supportive mentorship relationship can be formal, such as one created through a mentoring organization, or can be informal and involve role models with a variety of attributes. The key is for your daughter to form relationships with mentors whose success and work ethic resonates with her—even if it diverges from the norm.
As Kimmi Baston of Strong Women, Strong Girls Pittsburgh said, “When we think about mentorship it is oftentimes associated with success, somebody who is going to help you be successful or is successful themselves, and I like to remind folks that success looks in so many different ways.”
2. They Build Confidence
Research shows that confidence in girls peaks at the age of 9 and then plummets and is not regained until a woman is in her 30’s. By forming relationships with trusted adults at crucial moments in their adolescence, girls can develop the tools they need—like confidence, communication, and collaboration. Girls learn to believe in themselves and their abilities because they have role models who have traveled the path before them. They learn that working through challenges and changing directions are part of the journey when they see that reflected back via the strong female role models in their lives.
3. They’re a Positive Influence
Every day girls are flooded with images and messages from the media they consume, the products they use, and the places they visit. With all of these competing messages of success, it’s important for girls to have relationships with real people who work through complex challenges, make mistakes, and pick themselves up when their first (or second or third) try didn’t go as planned. Mentoring relationships with people that are closer in reach to a girl's life, such as a coach, sibling, or teacher, offers them the chance to engage with others in a meaningful way that shows the hard work and commitment it takes to achieve one’s goals.
4. They Model the Power of Authentic Relationships
The value of relationships is that they radiate outward. They not only help shape each individual girl for the better, but they also enable girls to engage with others more meaningfully and build community with one another. Even during times when physical connection may be challenging, mentors can teach girls the value of curiosity, storytelling, and vulnerability.
As Ellis alumna and co-founder of The Salon, Kathy LEWIS Long ’88 shared, “Be curious, there is always something to learn, to gain, to give when we are in relation with other people. As humans we are social creatures and relationships are our fuel.”
Are you interested in learning more about topics like this? Watch a previous session or join us for our next one.