The Mother-Daughter Project at JF&CS

March 23, 2023

The Mother-Daughter Project at JF&CS

People say “it takes a village” to raise a child, but many modern families do not have that type of consistent, reliable support. One JF&CS program led by Rebecca Brown, LCSW, Outreach & Prevention Social Worker for Shalom Bayit, is aspiring to change that.

The Mother-Daughter Project seeks to create respite for mothers and their daughters, and to strengthen that relationship — and with their respective peers. The program, sponsored by the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta Signature Grant, offers mothers of young daughters the chance to create their own network where they can grow alongside and support one another, all while following the framework in a book called The Mother-Daughter Project.

Early feedback on the group has been positive, with a recent participant sharing that “being a part of this group has really been a wonderful experience for me. The book is a great guide and being able to connect with other moms who share the same fears and hopes, and find themselves in similar situations with their daughters has been a huge comfort, and a terrific resource for me. I'm looking forward to more connection and introducing our daughters to our group".

Rebecca shared more:

What is the purpose of the group?

The purpose of this group is to provide support to mothers raising daughters. There’s an assumption that naturally daughters will separate from their mothers during their teen years, eye rolls and all. This program aims to flip that narrative and create close relationships starting before adolescence in an effort to establish connection, and to open communication before it may become difficult. The Mother-Daughter Project is based on the premise that solid relationships with other mothers and daughters are some of the most powerful resources you can utilize to guide your daughter through adolescence.

A quote from the book that summarizes this nicely is: "At the moment when it seems your daughter is struggling and you're not sure what to do, feeling isolated makes mothering even harder, while getting encouragement and advice from other mothers who share your values can help you and your daughter find your way through the difficulty."

Who can join this group?

Any Jewish woman or female-identifying person who is given or takes on the responsibility of raising a daughter or female-identifying child. The program is designed to have mothers with daughters of the same age in a cohort of between 4-6 mother/daughter dyads. The Project can start with girls as young as 7, and the group is ideally established before the teen years set in. The first 6 sessions are mothers only. After that time mother - daughter activities begin.

How long does it last?

The idea behind the Project is to build long term relationships, so ideally the group will continue for years. The curriculum is designed to cover an age-appropriate topic for the year. For example, the topic for 8-year-olds is “Fostering True Friendship,” while for 9-year-olds it is “Welcoming Cycles”. And it continues on through age 17. The group members decide how frequently to meet for activities; some groups might meet monthly, while others only meet twice a year. Some moms might meet monthly but only organize mother-daughter activities 3 times a year.

What do you hope for mothers and daughters to get out of this group?

For mothers, it’s to form supportive relationships with other mothers. To share their challenges, offer support to each other and create a dynamic of “women supporting women” as a model for their daughters. For the daughters, I hope they gain special lifelong friendships and relationships with women other than their mothers. It’s also good for daughters to see their moms through a different lens by observing their interactions with other moms.

Tell me about the book and the program:

The book is called The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds, and Thrive Through Adolescence by SuEllen Hamkins, M.D., and Renée Schultz, M.A. SuEllen is a psychiatrist and Renee is a Marriage & Family Therapist.

Something I love about this book is that it’s not a how-to, adding more work to already busy mothers. According to the authors: "[The books] questions are designed to make your own preferences and skills more apparent to you, to aid you in connecting more fully with the people and resources that support you and to helpful you overcome the obstacle that stand in the way of achieving your vision of what it means for mothers and daughters to thrive." I love that approach.

The book is divided into 2 parts. Part 1 outlines how to help our girls thrive, confronting the myth of the Supermom, preventing mother-daughter disconnection and finding common ground. Part 2 is the roadmap for topics and activity ideas for the coming years.

Why do you think having the group aspect is so important?

Well, as you said in the beginning, it takes a village. And that idea comes from the time when people did live in villages and had support from friends and family all the time. Modern day mothers are so busy with daily life, and often don’t make time for themselves. We know that disclosing struggles and showing compassion are essential for fostering closeness within female friendships. This is an opportunity to form those real, deep relationships, to celebrate and commiserate. Being a mom is hard, being a teenager is hard, and we don’t have to do it alone.

When is the next group starting up?

We do not have a date set, and are currently looking for participants. If someone has a group of moms they would like to start with, I am happy to help you get started. If you are interested but do not have a group, we are hoping to connect moms with similar aged daughters. Clinical staff will organize and facilitate groups, establishing supportive peer led self-sustaining cohorts. If you want to learn more, please reach out to me at

Proud Grantee Partner of Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta

Jewish Women's Fund of Atlanta

Sign up to receive the Feel Better Letter from JF&CS Clinical Services.