School House Magazine’s October Book of the Month: Rise of the Girl by Jo Wimble-Groves (DK, 7th Oct 2021)
Successful entrepreneur, blogger, and mum, Jo Wimble-Groves, AKA Guilty Mother, is on a mission to help young girls fulfil their potential and achieve success in a challenging world.
Rise of the Girl is a practical guide for parents of girls aged 7-20, broken down into seven conversation starters to empower parents, guardians, and their daughters to face the challenges of childhood and prepare them for adulthood.
I asked Jo some questions about her book-writing process, inspirations and aspirations.
What prompted you to write Rise of the Girl?
There is no magic formula to raising strong, confident girls. However, when I considered what impact we can make when we share what we have learned, it gave me an idea for a book.
Our girls go through a number of changes and challenges, and so I used my own platform to share seven empowering conversations I am having with my own daughter, who is almost 12.
In 2018, a study was conducted by the Mental Health Foundation through information released by NHS Digital. Their aim was to shed some light on the mental health of our children and young people.
The figures showed that for ages 17–19, nearly one in four young women had a mental health disorder. These are most commonly emotional disorders (particularly anxiety). The rise in teenage anxiety and depression could be challenged by simply having the seven key conversations described in this book.
Why are these seven conversations so important? Because when we strive for excellence, rather than perfection; when we reward and praise for effort, rather than ability; when we encourage curiosity for curiosity’s sake; when we encourage experimentation; when we talk about the positive impacts of failure, we can reframe the developing mindsets of our daughters.
I want to be part of giving our girls the future they deserve. I want to be one of those people who is passionate about helping parents and caregivers of girls.
In this book, I want to help your daughter – with your support – to thrive. So, I am sharing what I have learnt. Together, we can give girls the tools they need to embrace a strong sense of self, which will steer them through adolescence. In this book, you will read incredible stories from contributors about how wonderful things came from simply dipping their toes in the water, from trying something new.
And so, referring to the question, what prompted me to write Rise of the Girl? I considered if my ambitions started small to help girls in schools one girl at a time, what impact might a book have?
Do you see it more as a guide to parents or to girls themselves?
This book will help you reflect on and have an honest conversation about the role parents and caregivers have.
Originally I wanted the book to be for girls, but after some thought, it made more sense to focus on how many girls start out in life – at home.
Having considered what our daughters see, hear and experience from an early age, I was led to write my first chapter, seven. The age of seven is a magical milestone to me. Studies show that this age is important in your child’s development of social skills.
The book is a positive one and although it is for parents and caregivers, teen girls are welcome to read it. For slightly younger girls, there is a great opportunity to read them some of the empowering, positive contributor stories. Within some of the key messages we read in the book include our relationship with failure and setbacks.
Failure in itself doesn’t interfere with happiness if we are able to bounce back and accept that life is difficult. Using the concept of the growth mindset – that we must believe in our capacity for self-improvement – which is at the core of the seven conversations. We can teach our children to dare to be different, dare to dream, dare to make mistakes, and dare to be curious.
How much inspiration did you draw from your own relationship with your daughter, Erin?
Great question! When Erin was born and I held her for the first time, I remember thinking to myself; I need to be a strong role model, for her.
When we consider who we look up or down to, Erin may have her own role models in her life, but she is definitely one of mine. Proof that role models are all around us and in many cases, we are role modelling all the time without realising it.
I watch Erin as she tries so many things without being afraid of failure and walks with confidence in what she can achieve. Of course, she has many days where her self belief falls to one side or days when she feels she fails. But it is in those moments that she finds her grit and resilience to keep getting better at being herself.
Is this the book you wish you had when you were a girl? Or at the start of raising your daughter?
Some say that parenting is the hardest job we will ever do and so I think many of us want as much positive advice we can lay our hands on.
We can learn so much through the power of storytelling and that is why I was so keen, not only to share some of my own stories growing up as a teen girl but also, many contributors have shared their own journey with me.
When we look at successful men and women, our children may wonder how they got to where they are now. However, we don’t always share the success and most importantly any hurdles or failures we experienced on getting there.
Rise of the Girl is such an important and timely book, I hope it stands as boldly on the shelves as we hope our girls will shine in their futures.
Who knew that self-belief and hard work would often hold the key to everything we want to achieve?
How much do you think the advice in your book translates into raising boys? Or is that a whole different guidebook?
Interesting that you ask that. The copywriter who proofread my book has two young sons. She fed back to me that she felt so much of the book could all be used for boys. She told me that she used some of the tips in the book when she was teaching her son to ride his bike. It was such lovely feedback!
I have two sons as well, so I hope I might be able to write a book for them next. Raising confident, kind, and empathic boys is important.
Many of the struggles we see in girls can be translated to boys.
However, the concerns we see in our teenage girl’s mental health is often now being described at a ‘crisis point’, which is why, Rise of the Girl had to come first.
We must come together to support our girls, guide them, show them how to turn their passions into possibilities and ultimately help them to rise up.
Which piece of advice is your hero takeaway?
Keep a clear focus on achieving your personal best. It is natural to sometimes compare yourself to what other people are doing, but your journey is your own.
You are enough as you are.
When we believe in ourselves and focus on doing our personal best, amazing things can happen.
READ MORE: School House’s Library