I've written a few times about Michelle Icard, the Charlotte mom and expert on all things middle school.
She's written a book to help parents through these tough tween and early teen years and even gone "viral" with her response to some mean girls she overheard at a Starbucks.
For the first time, Icard is bringing her popular Right in the Middle conference to Raleigh for moms and their middle school daughters. The conference has consistently sold out in Charlotte, where it is held twice a year. It is 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 25, at the Junior League of Raleigh, 711 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. The cost is $75 per person or $150 for a mother/daughter pair. It's designed for girls entering or in middle school and their moms.
Icard will cover all things middle school during the afternoon, including brains, beauty, boys, peer pressure, girls in advertising and social media. She also will hold an “ask me anything” panel for the moms while the girls learn about “friends and frenemies.”
Middle school can be tricky for just about anybody. The goal with Right in the Middle is for moms to help their daughters find and keep a strong sense of identity, self-worth, joy and community through these years. There are guest presentations, breakout sessions, interactive games and more.
"The greatest tool in any transition is having the language to communicate through it," Icard says. "If we aren’t careful as parents, we can begin to feel foreign to our kids in their middle school years. The gift of Right in the Middle is that mothers and daughters will be given a passport for the journey. They’ll learn what to expect in middle school, be given a common language, and become sensitive to what the other is thinking and why."
In addition to Icard, girls and their moms will hear from a local school counselor and a teacher of Athena's Path, the girls leadership program Icard created. And big favorite for the girls are the high school interns who, throughout the conference, will share their Top 10 list of things they wish they'd known in middle school.
"Moms tell me it was so helpful for their daughters to hear advice from the high schoolers," Icard said. "Life lessons have much more credibility coming from a friendly and confident high school girl, than from mom."
Icard tells me that most moms have to drag their girls to the program, but, by the end, there are lots of hugs.
"One of my favorite moments in every conference comes at the very end," Icard tells me. "I see the girls come into the event reluctantly. They aren't sure why their moms made them come. They're a little embarrassed, awkward, resentful. Very typical middle school stuff. And then after three hours, I see these same girls crawling into their moms laps, holding their hands, whispering to them. It's one of the most magical things I've experienced, and I get to experience it several times a year."
Icard's website has more information and registration details.