Ask any parent of a teenage girl and they’ll lament the loss of their little girl. Parenting teenagers is challenging, but add the stress of social media issues, friendship issues and performance anxiety and you may have a time bomb ready to explode. Worse still, you’ll find the parenting skills you’ve been refining over the last 13 years no longer seem to work.
The phase as girls transition into adulthood is often celebrated as a ‘rite of passage’. However, in our modern, busy world, many of us have forgotten to mark this time and prepare our daughters for the responsibilities and consequences that will now face them.
In Australia, mental health rates of adolescent girls are significantly increasing. According to the Black Dog Institute, some of the top concerns are coping with stress, school or study problems and body image.
Wellbeing at all ages of development is important, however wellbeing on the cusp of transitioning to young adulthood is critical. It shapes their attitude to friendships, relationships, studies and health. If their mental health and inner lives are strong, they will have the capacity to take ownership of their actions and decisions. As they move into their adult life where decisions around alcohol use, drugs and body image can have damaging consequences, they need the tools to be true to themselves, know their values and their potential and avoid being seduced by peer pressure.
This is why we have introduced a year-long Rites of Passage program at St Hilda’s, which will take our Year 9 students through a journey of self-discovery. With regular sessions built into the curriculum, our girls learn about what it means to be a young woman, and not a girl. They learn about healthy relationships with their body, friends, family, and loved ones.
The cornerstone of the program is a 12-day Wandering Spirit retreat located at our Yeagarup Campus in Pemberton. Away from technology and other daily distractions, our girls will be given the space to connect, learn new life-skills and share stories that support their transition.
It’s a substantial commitment in the lives of our Year 9 students. Is it worth it? Yes.
Building young women who can think for themselves, can make good decisions, have the skills to manage stress and have a vision for their future is one of the most important gifts we can give our girls and their families.
St Hilda’s has worked with acclaimed author and transition expert, Dr Arne Rubinstein to build our unique Wandering Spirit Program. He founded the Rites of Passage Institute and has been running Rites of Passage programs throughout the world for the last decade. His expertise is sought by experts in education, government and social enterprises.