Bonding Over Beauty - 27 East

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Bonding Over Beauty

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author on Aug 22, 2011

For moms anywhere, forming healthy mother-daughter relationships can be tricky at best, especially when girls begin to hit the famously rebellious stage of right before and during their teenage years. But Erika Katz, mom of an 8-year-old girl, and a 10-year-old boy, has discovered what she thinks are the most effective bonding methods and has written about them in her new book “Bonding Over Beauty.”

Ms. Katz, who lives in Manhattan and Southampton, said during a recent telephone interview that one of the biggest challenges mothers of daughters face is the phase girls undergo as “tweenagers.” No longer a child but not yet a teenager, with raging hormones and rapidly changing bodies, this time is particularly tough for kids and their parents. Hearing about other parents’ struggles with tweendom gave Ms. Katz her inspiration for sitting down to write her book, which took two years to complete.

“I went to a parent meeting in New York City at my son’s school where we gathered to talk about issues. This one particular mom was upset because kids were teasing her daughter for having a moustache,” she recalled during a recent phone interview. “She was only 9 years old so her mom didn’t know what to do, but I knew exactly what to do, so I researched a little and I wrote a blog about it.”

After this first blog was written in 2010, it became popular among females of all ages, the author reported. Having covered topics from how to hide your daughter’s first signs of acne to how to prepare for a first date, she said that the positive feedback she was receiving for her blog was motivation for transforming what she knew into a book.

“While this is a book for girls, it’s also a parenting book. The goal of the book is to help parents have better relations with their daughter, to talk to them when they’re 8, 9, 10, instead of shutting them down,” Mrs. Katz explained. “Listen to them and ask them why they want to shave, wear deodorant.”

Remembering special memories of her own experiences, Ms. Katz developed ideas for her book, she said.

“It was a rainy day and we were at my house in the Hamptons and we had nothing to do so we went into the backyard in the rain and grabbed some strawberries. I asked my daughter, ‘do you want to make a strawberry scrub?’ And she said ‘yeah!’ Olive oil, strawberries, sugar, and we had our own little scrub.”

Naturally, such a book geared toward moms and their adolescent daughters would have a hot pink cover and girly lettering, the way “Bonding over Beauty” does, but the author said that it’s more than just a guide to becoming a beauty queen.

“While it’s called ‘Bonding over Beauty,’ the goal of the book is to get parents comfortable with speaking with their children. The reason I use beauty is it’s the ticket into talking,” Mrs. Katz said. She explained that children are often hesitant to share information about their personal lives, but when a parent spends time with the child through bonding activities, she finds that “this is a great way for them to talk to you.”

And not only does the early bonding establish strong relationship throughout adolescence, but throughout life too, she said.

“My mother is Hungarian and she had all these Hungarian recipes, like putting vinegar in my hair to make it shiny. She and my grandmother taught me a lot of this and she used to make me moisturize every night before I went to bed and I still do it today,” she remembered. “They’re rituals you can teach your daughter so they don’t forget. It’s a way of leaving a little piece of you with them.”

Being a mother of two kids, Mrs. Katz has had firsthand experience with raising children. She said that she completely understands the frustration parents can sometimes feel.

“The most difficult part of the [teenage transition] is that there’s so much television and media geared for 12-, 13-year-olds but the 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds are watching it too,” she said. “And oftentimes, they’re asking questions that they’re not ready for. The challenge: teaching something to an immature child.”

But despite this social dilemma, she said, there are plenty of ways to bond with children in a more effective manner, even through nutrition. Having spent time on Long Island, Mrs. Katz said she particularly appreciates the fresh foods that the East End has to offer.

“I have a chapter called ‘Bonding over Health and Nutrition’ and I recommend as a bonding activity to take your child to a farmer’s market to see how the food is grown, to buy local,” she said. “It’s an important lesson that these tomatoes don’t grow at the supermarket. I take my kids every year to the Halsey’s farm and they tell us and they tell the kids what it takes to grow those trees and grow those apples, those peaches.”

Mrs. Katz stressed that there’s more to health and beauty than what is just on the outside.

“If you want to look healthy, you have to be healthy.”

One of the most important ideas the author said that she wants her readers to take away from the book is that now is the best time to become a better parent.

“Make a relationship at a young age with your daughter and make it special and make it grow and last a lifetime. You can’t start talking to her at 14; that’s too late,” she explained. “I call it a ‘mother-daughter beauty guide to foster self-esteem, confidence, and trust’ because you have to foster trust between the two of you.”

Erika Katz will read from and sign copies of “Bonding Over Beauty: A Mother-Daughter Beauty Guide to Foster Self-Esteem, Confidence, and Trust” at BookHampton in Southampton on Friday, August 26, at 5 p.m. For more information, visit bookhampton.com.

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