Reese: Chandler mom designs retreats to grow mother-daughter relationships - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

EV Moms Reese: Chandler mom designs retreats to grow mother-daughter relationships

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Michelle Reese covers education for the Tribune and blogs about motherhood and family issues at Contact her at

Michelle Reese covered education for the Tribune, also blogging about motherhood and family issues at

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013 5:03 am | Updated: 3:34 pm, Tue Aug 20, 2013.

As a young girl approaching teen years, Chandler’s Karen Nowicki started writing letters to her parents to communicate with them.

As Nowicki’s own daughter grew, Nowicki wondered how she would open the doors of communication as she moved into the parent role.

With years of parenting, education and coaching experience, today Nowicki passes on the lessons she’s learned to other moms and daughters.

Her Mother Daughter Weekends are designed to help build the bond between a mom and her daughter, teach them the power of listening and improve the trust needed during the rough preteen and teen years.

“Everything we do is helping them be present with each other,” she said. “Everything is built around that relationship.”

Her “tween” weekend, scheduled for June 21-23 in Phoenix, is focused on moms and their daughters ages 9 to 12. She walks the pairs through exercises where they discuss their likes and dislikes, as well as their differences and similarities to help each learn how to “honor” the other, as well as see how each can encourage and support the other.

Nowicki also dives into the tough subjects of health, self esteem, sexuality and boyfriends, after finding out from parents how in depth they want those conversations to go.

It’s tough for moms, Nowicki acknowledges.

“As much as mom wants her to be independent and confident and strong, the second we see that independence come toward us, we shut that down,” she said. “So we discuss how do we handle that effect so there is respect. You want to keep that independence.”

The idea of the weekend retreat — participants can stay at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Report or make their own arrangements — is to bring mom and one daughter at a time together for uninterrupted time.

“Here’s what we’re up against as parents: the jobs, sibling time, any charity work we do. That’s our life,” she said.

Then the daughters also have, “her girlfriends, and sports or arts and crafts.”

“We have less and less a chance to parent strategically. It’s taking strategic time to set aside with that daughter.”

By the end of the weekend, the pair comes up with an agreement on how they’ll treat each other and spend time together. They’ll also learn how to leave notes for each other and journal, which gives each a place to write down all they want to say.

Nowicki is planning a mom and “teen daughter” retreat for the fall for moms and their daughters 13 to 16, she said.

Nowicki is doing this as she watches her own children — ages 18, 16 and 5 — move into different stages of their lives.

“My desire to do this was not having a relationship with my mom,” she said.

Though Nowicki tried with the letters, she describes her mom as “distant,” especially as the family went through a divorce and move.

Parents get so busy with their lives, she said, that often, “We go into default mode and we don’t pay attention to how we’re behaving.”

Nowicki hopes to help moms and daughters make steps to improve those relationships.

“Moms and daughters will have plenty of opportunity to make or break their relationship,” she writes on her website, “When we have compassion and respect for ourselves and each other, even the most difficult situations becomes beautiful milestones and opportunities to grow together.”

Nowicki is an author, former educator and a licensed relationship coach.

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