The Mother-Daughter Project Book

 mother daughter project paperbackcover2

The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds and Thrive Through Adolescence

By SuEllen Hamkins, MD and Renee Schultz, MA

We discovered the simple but revolutionary idea that by joining together in small groups, ordinary mothers and daughters can thrive by facing the challenges of adolescence together. Mothers and daughters love staying close and having fun while taking on the hottest issues girls and women face.

“The Mother-Daughter Project is a treasure…a beautiful road map for strengthening the crucial bond between mothers and daughters.”-Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Creating a Legacy of Physical and Emotional Health


“Every mother of a daughter should read this, try out some of the exercises, and start her own mother-daughter group.”-Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., co-author, Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes



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From the Book Jacket

Hamkins, SuEllen, M.D., & Renée Schultz. The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds, and Thrive Through Adolescence. Hudson Street. Apr. 2007. c.304p. bibliog. ISBN 1-59463-034-6 [ISBN 976-1-59463-034-7]. $23.95. CHILD REARING

There is no comment more troubling to the mother of a young girl than “She loves you now, but just wait ’til she’s a teenager.”

The new discovery is that teen girls need – and secretly want – a close connection with their mothers, and that you can keep the loving relationship with your daughter that you have when she is little right through her teen years.

Ten years ago, SuEllen Hamkins, M.D., and Renée Schultz, M.A., psychotherapy professionals with a combined forty years’ experience and both mothers of then seven-year-old daughters, founded The Mother Daughter Project with other women in their community, with the hope of disproving the damaging assumption of mother-daughter disconnection. With their young daughters, the group met regularly to speak frankly about such issues as girls’ friendships (and aggression), puberty, and the media’s influence on self-image, drugs, and sexuality.

As their daughters matured, the mothers marveled at the strength and confidence with which the girls thrived through adolescence. It was clear the Project had succeeded in creating a haven from the perils of teen culture. But equally important, the support the Project offered mothers helped them navigate their own concerns about adolescence with integrity and grace.

Mother with three daughtersAt once simple and revolutionary, this book details the success of the Mother-Daughter Project’s groundbreaking model, providing the reader with a roadmap for strengthening her bond with her own daughter, and providing strategies for staying close through adolescence and beyond.

Hamkins and Schultz begin with an insightful look at what today’s mothers and daughters are up against, from the current social pressure teen girls face to the “myth of the Supermom”. (“In order to best care for their daughters, mothers need to first take care of themselves,” the authors explain.) From here, each chapter is dedicated to guiding you through a different age in your daughter’s childhood and adolescence – beginning when she is seven and concluding at seventeen – offering fun, practical, age-specific exercises and advice, for everything from teaching your daughter to genuinely love her body to instilling in her the importance of both safety and freedom.

Whether you are interested in starting a mother-daughter group in your own community or would simply like to ensure a close relationship with your daughter as she grows up, this groundbreaking book will show you the way.

More Press and Praise for The Mother-Daughter Project

“A thoroughly realistic roadmap for sustaining mother-daughter relationships in a culture that seems determined to undermine them…Hamkins and Schultz demonstrate how collective energy and commitment can help mothers and daughters thrive.

-Meredith Michaels, co-author, The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women


“A lively and engaging book that offers hope and inspiration as well as practical advice for maintaining and enhancing the mother-daughter connection.”

-Jean Kilbourne, author, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel

“Wise to the ways of girls and the stresses on moms, Hamkins and Schultz bring to life a mother-daughter revolution-a revolution of love and connection during the most difficult transition in a girl’s life.”

-Elizabeth Debold, co-author, Mother Daughter Revolution: From Good Girls to Great Women


“Just wait ’til she grows up and hates you.” Hamkins and Schultz, psychotherapists and mothers, dreaded the day when they might hear those words from their own daughters. In an effort to avoid that scene, keep their relationships close and loving, and create ongoing communication between mothers and daughters, they started a group of mothers and daughters in 1997. They conversed, supported one another, played a bit, and talked out problems. Eventually, this led to the creation of the Mother-Daughter Project in 2002 – a model for sustaining loving mother/daughter relationships throughout the stormy years of adolescence and into adulthood. This book describes how the project got started, what it attempted to do, how it succeeded (and where it could be improved), and what to expect from daughters each year from ages seven to 17. The authors’ approach is realistic, taking “supermom” off her pedestal, addressing big questions (sex, drugs) early, and offering moms support. The initial assumption is that mothers and daughters can have close, loving relationships at any age, a premise well supported by the project. An excellent approach for all public libraries.

-Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA for Library Journal © 2007 Reed Business Information, Inc. (US)


“This book is a wonderful story of transforming the relationship between mothers and their adolescent daughters from one of distance to one of connection. Extremely well written with rich examples, it is a realistic approach to the stresses of life cycle development – a beacon for all mothers and daughters and those who love them.”

-Monica McGoldrick, Director, Multicultural Family Institute, nationally known teacher, author and family therapist. Books include: Re-Visioning Family Therapy, The Expanded Family Life Cycle (3rd Ed., 1999), Ethnicity and Family Therapy (3rd Ed., 2005), Genograms in Family Assessment, Women in Families, Living Beyond Loss (2nd Ed, 2004), and You Can Go Home Again (1995).


“An enthralling chronicle of a pioneering community of mothers and their daughters. Here, the generation gap closes, as mothers and daughters join in solidarity, mothers empowering their daughters while having their own sense of empowerment re-charged. As one concerned about the pandemic of eating disorders, I particularly recommend Chapter 10: Learning to Love Our Bodies. Invigorating and engaging…rich in invention.”

-David Epston, family therapist, co-director of the Family Therapy Centre, Auckland, N.Z., co-author of Biting the Hand That Starves You: Inspiring Resistance to Anorexia/Bulimia (2004), W. W. Norton, New York.


Here is a video by SuEllen describing how Mother-Daughter Project groups support girls’ self-esteem:


Listen to a story on NPR about SuEllen’s experience developing
The Mother-Daughter Project