Build strong bonds with pre-teen daughters with workshop

Sep 28, 2016

Moms of pre-teen girls are busy with homework, braiding hair, back to school shopping, and carting their girls from everything to slumber parties to after school sports.

There’s barely time to think about the looming teen years, but the thought is there, like a distant storm cloud: “Am I ready for what’s to come? Will our mother-daughter bond hold through the turmoil of adolescence?”

Mukilteo Parks and Recreation is offering a series of mother-daughter workshops to residents in this demographic - a chance for mothers and daughters to have fun, share a meal, try new activities, learn together, - and discuss topics of deep and lasting significance.

The series, titled “Girl Power!” includes workshops formed around the popular movies, “Mulan,” “Brave,” and “Frozen,” and are designed not only to be fun and educational, but to tackle the values and character traits moms everywhere desire to instill in their children.

The first workshop, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 15, looks at the story of Fa Mulan, the subject of the popular “Mulan” film.

This movie captured the love of little girls everywhere, and presenter/therapist Karen Rhodes uses it as a vehicle to not only explore Chinese history and legends, but to present the story of a real life, modern day Mulan - a girl who showed amazing bravery and family loyalty during one of China’s most tumultuous periods.

Rhodes hopes this story will spark conversations at home about the values each family holds dear. The traditional mother-daughter fan dance learned, and the souvenir lanterns made together, will make for lasting memories.

Rhodes has been doing these workshops since the early ’80s. In those days, the Fox movie, “Anastasia,” was all the rage.

“It was a wonderful movie,” Rhodes remembers. “Full of music, and love, villainy… and woefully inaccurate history. I thought, this movie is going to get girls interested in Russian history… and they’re going to get it all wrong.”

With her own three daughters, Rhodes set out to present the true story of the Russian Revolution, complete with waltzing (“A Russian princess has to know how to dance!”), borscht, and homemade versions of Faberge eggs.

The program toured all over the state of Virginia, where Rhodes lived at the time, was viewed more than 40 times, and spawned a long list of similar workshops, including “Greece Is The Word,” and “True Brit.”

Following a move to Seattle and a stint at grad school earning a master’s degree in psychology, Rhodes is bringing new depths of psychological insight to the interactive workshops she loves so well.

“Brave,” coming the weekend of Nov. 19, will feature archery, Scottish history and legends, Scottish food, a mother-daughter “tapestry” and a talk on how to raise brave children.

“Most of us still have a soft spot for the fairy princesses of our youth,” Rhodes said. “And our little girls do, too - Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella.

“But we want our daughters to aspire to something more than waiting for the prince to ride up and rescue us. These new stories try to model a new sort of princess for our daughters.

“But rather than just sitting and passively watching these films, we’re going to give mothers a chance to interact with the material alongside their daughters. The ‘Brave’ story is especially well suited to this dynamic, as a misunderstanding and reconciliation in the mother-daughter relationship is at the core of the movie.”

Rhodes is hoping moms will provide her with photographs in advance of themselves with their daughters, to be pre-printed on canvas.

Each girl can go home with her own precious family emblem, much like the one in the movie. Perhaps when mother-daughter conflicts arise, they can look at the picture on the wall and remember that bond with the woman who loves them best.

Sisters, aunts, and grandmothers are also invited to participate.

The mega-popular “Frozen” rounds out the series, with workshops the weekend of Jan. 14.

Frozen treats, mother-daughter snowglobes, fun in the “snow” and a talk on the importance of sibling relationships are all included.

To register, go to or call: 425-263-8180.

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