Our Vision for Courageous Girls
WHO IS A COURAGEOUS GIRL?
There is so much to learn about being a girl. So many of us moms are still discovering this and hungry for help. We want to help moms discover their own courage in raising a daughter who knows herself as LOVED. Every one of us
C. Confident in who God made her to be
O. Open to those who are different than her
U. Understands and applies God’s Word
R. Risks because her faith is in a big God
A. Asks for help willingly (both in prayer & community)
G. Generous with her time and resources
E. Empathetic and loves well
O. Obedient to God
U. Unique from the world around her
S. Servant heart
G. Good friend (even when it’s hard)
I. Initiates with integrity
R. Real & honest with God and others
L. Leads and lives wholeheartedly
A courageous girl knows she is human and in need of God and others. The very word courageous means many things in our culture today. Well known author and sociologist, Brene’ Brown, defines it this way in her book, I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame:
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds.”
“Resilience and courage are not about being strong but about leaning into the One who is stronger than anything we could ever face,” (Mattson, p. 146). We like this starting point because it reminds us that a Courageous Girl is someone who is in touch with her own heart – all of it. She has learned to care for it, nurture it, and recognize what Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” She leans into a mighty God with her whole heart and can trust His ways, not her own.
In Hebrew culture, the word heart was associated with every part of a person. It meant the mind, the gut, and the body. Not just the emotions, which is more of a western interpretation. When we read this proverb with the Hebrew context, we recognize that we are to guard our whole selves, like a treasured diamond, because all we do and say will flow from within.
Being a courageous mama, investing in her courageous girl(s), means we take time to know our daughters. We take time to help her build skills and give her ways to practice and develop confidence within the safety and security of grace. This takes time and patience to allow for ample practice. It’s a slow and steady drip. Courageous Girls can and will then say “yes” to God out of desire and trust, rather than obligation and fear. Let it be!
According to researchers, “An age-related progression of conversations, modeling and guidance
- Honest and open conversations, infused with clinically-proven and Biblical information
- Nurturing, long-standing relationships that withstand time, conflicts and the teenage years
- Prayerful support amongst moms and daughters
- Strong mother/daughter relationships that contribute to healthier family units
- Confident mamas who feel prepared to address challenging issues and topics with their daughters at each stage of development
- Confident and resilient young women who know they are loved and know how to love others well, too
- Real friendships – fun, laughter, shared memories and learning how to do authentic relationships with people who challenge our comfort zones, helping us see a wider scope of God
- Deep knowledge of God’s love for each one of us and how His transforming grace changes the way we live, especially in the hard places of life
- Deep, intimate personal relationships with God (for both mamas and their daughters), through knowing the Word, journaling, prayer, accountability, and living in community
- For larger communities (schools, churches, cities, and regions) to experience the powerful benefits from the ripple effect of intentional parenting, connected children and emotionally healthy girls
What does a Courageous Girls group look like?
We strongly believe that Courageous Girls groups function best when kept to a particular size, ideally 12-16 people or 6-8 mother/daughter pairs. Research has shown that it is difficult to develop real intimacy in larger groups. However, if you have too small of a group, the group might lose momentum if numbers fade over the years. Life happens, and there might be moms and daughters who move or leave the group for one of many reasons. The ideal size allows for deeper connection and longevity. We believe it also allows for more diversity, allowing us to practice loving those who are different than us; groups that are too small can be very homogenous. In any case, the size of the group is important as the goal is to foster trust and safety amongst group members. This happens best in smaller groups that afford every member to know and be known by all other group members.
Who should I invite to participate in my CG group?
Dayna Gresh, founder
Most importantly, the commitment required to be a part of CG needs to be of high priority to whoever ends up making up your group. Make this clear in your invitation (see our sample email invitation) and gently accept the “No, thank you” from those who cannot make the commitment. Trust that those who say “Yes” are doing so for a reason yet discovered. Common places to find interested moms include the classroom, school, church, sports teams, neighbors, your own Bible study or small group.
How often should we meet?
Monthly meetings make a CG group practical and allow us to stay well-connected. Meeting less frequently does not foster trust and inhibits intimacy from building over time; meeting more often precludes many people with busy schedules (that’s all of us!). Some groups find Friday nights to be a convenient time to meet while others enjoy a Sunday afternoon or evening, which allows for families to travel and still return home in time. As the group leader, you can decide what day and time is the most practical time for your group to meet, and it may well depend on who is interested in joining you. Each year’s curriculum requires the group to meet 8 times (plus a retreat), typically between September and June, with many groups taking December off to do service projects together during the Advent season. Terra has found that elementary years work best on Sunday evenings from 5:30-7:30 pm. Other groups meet earlier in the afternoon so families can be back together by dinner time. When the girls start middle school, extended time allows for more activities and deeper discussions amongst the older girls. Meetings on Friday evenings from 6:45-9:00 pm has allowed kids to have a fun and safe activity on Friday night. Know this: No matter what you decide, you won’t be able to make it perfect for everyone. That’s okay. If people are committed to joining you in this process, they will find ways to prioritize your meeting dates and plan ahead.
Where should we meet?
There are usually a few options for this. We encourage you to find what works best for the majority of your group and use it. For some
Other groups have enjoyed rotating homes so that several families get the chance to host and open their home to others. Rotating homes can be helpful, modeling for each daughter what it takes to host and prepare her home for others when rooted in grace and NOT in perfection. Powerful changes also happen in us moms when we host one time per year. Sharing the load can feel lighter for each mom, teaching us all about participating in our communities. This does not work for everyone, especially if someone’s living situation is in a shared home or a small home that cannot accommodate the entire group. Honor that.
Another option is to find a local coffee shop or space that will allow you to reserve a private room for each monthly meeting. It is important to be able to reserve the space in advance so that you know your group is guaranteed a place to meet. If you choose this option, make sure you are aware of any patronage rules (like needing to purchase a food/drink item in order to use the space) and fees that may be associated. This can be a good option for larger groups that don’t fit well inside individual
What are the Guidelines?
A guideline sets forth a principle, a way of seeing that helps children understand how to navigate life decisions. While a guideline is worthless to a one-year-old, it is wonderfully life-giving to a ten-year-old; it gives more direction than directives. Guidelines are relationally communicated, allowing children to own their choices in heartfelt obedience rather than merely complying to rules. It communicates consequences as well as the basis — protection and freedom — within the given truth. A guideline teaches skills for navigating new choices ahead, choices that rules can never anticipate. In other words, a rule says, “You will not do this or else.” A guideline says, “Here is why you would choose these behaviors and not those. I’ll stand with you as you mature in these choices….”
While your group will need to develop guidelines for yourself, here are some points we feel need to be included for groups to form and operate well:
1. Commitment: Mother/daughter pairs commit to regular attendance to all scheduled dates (unless illness or family emergency make it impossible).
2. Intentional: Monthly dialogue focuses on the given topic & scripture connection (related activities are suggested each month). Do what feels authentic to your group and know that you may need to deviate from the planned activity in order to better meet the needs of your group.
3. Community: Each mom will facilitate one of the monthly gatherings with the goal of modeling leadership and courage to her daughter and sharing the leadership role amongst all moms. For those that cannot lead the discussion, contributing snacks, supplies or helping with other necessary tasks will help divide the responsibility between all mothers, thus building buy-in and a sense of ownership amongst all group members. This shared facilitation is a powerful way to model how each of us is a unique contribution to God’s purposes.
4. Reassess: Evaluate your group’s commitment each year with the goal of remaining intact as a group through middle school. While these groups are not to be “cliques,” they are an intentional form of discipleship that many of us lack in our everyday lives. These groups go against the grain of traveling alone or in detached communities; instead, they build a trust-filled history that fosters a mindset of moving through conflict, rather than avoiding it.
5. Confidentiality: Safety is of the utmost importance. This might go without saying, but you will NOT build the kind of trust necessary if anyone feels worried that their stories, questions, discussions are going to end up being tomorrow’s gossip in the lunchroom. Establish curtains of safety within the group by making confidentiality CLEAR and WELL-UNDERSTOOD. Then, model it for your daughter by maintaining integrity with your words, too.
6. Grace: We are all learning and we will all mess up. Because of Jesus, we can learn to make things right with one another and repair. Doing this as moms and helping our daughters do the same will be a game-changer in our culture. Grace is the root we want to grow out of.
Do I need to buy the book "InCourage: Raising Daughters Rooted in Grace" for Courageous Girls?
We strongly encourage all moms to read InCourage: Raising Daughters Rooted in Grace at some point, as it is the heartbeat behind the Courageous Girls curriculum, written from the wisdom and experience of the CG founder, Terra Mattson. Though reading the book is not a required part of the CG curriculum, the book does help moms explore the undercurrents of what it means to be a Courageous Mama who models and raises her Courageous Girl. The CG website equips leaders with all materials needed, so the book is not needed to lead a group. However, leaders will find the contents of this book helpful in equipping them to not only to lead
Here’s to Courageous Girls. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
Movements start with one voice declaring, “It’s time.” In a world of confusing messages directed at women, the stakes have never been higher to raise daughters who are confident in their identities, courageous to impact their world, and rooted in grace. But raising daughters who have sustained relationships with a personal, loving, and grace-filled God, and who know their purpose in life, requires more than just hope or routine attendance at Sunday morning church services. It requires more than just solid self-esteem, a good education and parents who love their children. Those things are important, but what is really required is laying down our lives for our daughters—entering into their world to support them and committing ourselves to becoming Courageous Girls alongside them.
Whether you are a mom of daughters, or a woman investing in the next generation of girls, InCourage is written for you. Touching on the common issues we face as women, such as the comparison game, body image, sexuality, identity, friendships, and more, InCourage reminds us that transformation of our communities and cultures starts with us. We cannot give to our daughters what we have not received ourselves, and a courageous woman knows she cannot do this journey alone. Weaving together biblical truth and clinical wisdom, this book will inspire, empower, and equip you to be a woman of courage right where you are, while challenging you to invest in the women and girls around you.
Where did the curriculum come from?
Terra has counseled and trained parents for 20 years as a clinician and ministry leader. Training in trauma recovery, healthy family dynamics, leadership development, and practical applications of God’s Word has shaped the way she parents and helps others do the same. Aimee has a Master’s degree in teaching and has spent over a decade editing, developing curriculum, and mentoring students of all ages. She leads children toward God through kid’s ministry at church, shepherds adult women in Bible study and comes alongside families and foster children involved with the local DHS, offering tangible support and resources.
With these unique backgrounds in ministry, teaching, counseling and trauma stewardship, it was pretty clear they could make a great team. Terra has developed deep and meaningful conversations for moms and daughters to experience in
Terra published her first book to accompany this website, one that will help moms in their own journeys. In addition, outside sources were used as an inspiration and for guidance. With terrific literature available, there are all sorts of resources you can use to supplement your group’s discussions.
What is a "Pair/Share?"
Many of the lessons include a direction to “pair/share” with a specific question or topic. This simply looks like each mom and daughter pair, turning toward each other to discuss topics together in an intimate space. Practicing more intentional and intimate conversation within community helps foster these kinds of conversations at home, and helps all moms and daughters normalize topics that might feel too heavy to tackle on their own. This is a helpful tool to use before asking the group at large for feedback or to comment on a topic. In addition, many months include questions/discussion topics for moms to have with their daughters leading up to the large group meeting. This can be sent out anytime prior to the meeting, but typically giving mother/daughter pairs two weeks to find time to discuss together before the meeting is helpful.
How old should my daughter be before starting Courageous Girls?
This is really up to each individual parent and group leader. Typically, we find that girls are not ready to engage in this level of meaningful dialogue before 2nd grade. Due to the amount of reading and the required attention span for the meetings, children younger than this can struggle to get the full benefit out of the group dynamic. Ideally, the first year of
What should my gathering look like?
We find that it is very important to create a rhythm around your CG meetings so that everyone knows what to anticipate and can plan accordingly. This also helps build trust through routine and shared expectations. Remember, these are children. Playing and having fun helps transfer knowledge to the heart and
First 15 minutes – Arrival,
Lead 70 – This is the 70 minutes of the meeting devoted to the ‘Monthly Lesson Outline’ — refer to the curriculum link to find yearly and monthly lesson outlines. This time will include memory verse recording, Bible reading, discussion, pair/shares and a craft or activity.
Final 5 minutes – Journaling and prayer time
*By keeping your group on track and on schedule, you honor everyone’s time and ensure that people will trust that you are meeting when you say you are meeting. This aids in getting people to arrive on time as well as to respect the host’s schedule when it is time to leave.
What if I am not a natural leader?
Most of us don’t feel that we are natural leaders or teachers for these types of situations. It may feel uncomfortable or push you outside of where you normally operate. However, it is so powerful for our daughters to see us lead the group discussion at some point. We challenge you to step out in faith and lead a discussion at least once. We have provided all the essentials of what you need to do this well. Give yourself grace to not be perfect and rely on your fellow CG mamas to help you out if you get stuck. Much of the curriculum is small group discussion, pair/share or
How can I prevent my group from being or seeming exclusive?
This was a careful and prayerful consideration in designing CG groups. In light of the heartbeat of discipleship and meaningful relationships that impact the greater community for Christ, long-term and committed partnerships are required. Others might see this as a clique. This is not exclusive material and can be accessed by anyone. As long as the moms and daughters in your group are treating others outside of the group with kindness and consideration (one of the intentional goals of CG groups), this will not be a huge issue. This concern usually has more to do with other people’s perceptions, which you cannot control and is a part of learning how to live in a world that judges people.
If your group is made up of girls from the same class or church group, it may feel exclusive to those not involved, especially if they desire to be. Encourage your girls not to talk about CG around school or church friends that are not involved, especially if it sounds like bragging. (i.e. “We are all in a group together called Courageous Girls. Too bad you didn’t get to go rock climbing with us last week). This can be resolved pretty simply with some direct guidance from the leader and moms at the very beginning about how to treat others with compassion and kindness. If you are accused of being exclusive by other moms, do your best to understand the WHY behind the accusation and hear them out. It’s usually a person’s way of expressing a desire to be included or her own fear of missing out. You may or may not be able to change her perspective of the situation. You can, however, encourage her to form a CG group of her own and direct her here, to the website, to access all the information and tools needed to get her own group up and running. Perhaps you can support her in that journey and offer to be a resource or mentor as she embarks on the journey herself?
What should I do if someone in my group isn't following the guidelines?
Model healthy relationships and grace on every level. If someone is not respecting the group guidelines, consider praying first, and then talk to that mom directly outside of the regular meeting time. Please try to do this in person and not over technology. Face to face is ALWAYS the best form of communication. The Bible tells us to go directly to someone we need to address rather than triangulate (talking to other group members about our concerns); the other temptation is to never address issues, often resulting in growing bitterness and frustration. Many times, the mom or daughter who is breaking the guideline could use some gentle coaching and in the end will develop deeper trust with you.
Grace is always at the forefront and these guidelines are meant to help groups foster love, care
Every couple of months, you might consider reviewing the guidelines in a fun way in order to keep them in front of all the moms and daughters. At the least, review them at the beginning of every year. In the end, these kinds of situations foster intimacy. A group that never moves through conflict will always remain in a
How should I handle discord or turmoil within my group?
We are big advocates of dealing directly with problems that arise. Whether the issue is between two girls or strife amongst the entire group, it’s important to root out discord as quickly as possible; it has no place in spaces occupied by the Holy Spirit and will work to implode your group. Here are five suggestions for dealing with conflict in your CG group, all rooted in that most important word: GRACE.
G – Get real. Be honest and truthful with whatever the issues are. Issues that lie dormant just below the surface are bound to bubble up eventually. Typically, they get bigger and less contained the longer they brew. It’s better to put things out on the table quickly so that issues can be addressed and resolved. We recommend doing this in a safe setting, but NOT during a regular CG meeting. Keep your group discussions focused on your scheduled topic so that you don’t set a precedent for these gatherings to become venting sessions and/or complaint brigades. Set up time outside of your regular meeting to meet with anyone involved in the issue. Your group leader might be a great facilitator/mediator during this meeting or ask a neutral third party to sit in if you feel their wisdom and guidance would be helpful. Matthew 18 is a great Bible passage to reference. The goal is to avoid triangulation where people talk to others outside the issue instead of to those directly involved.
R – Remain in control of your feelings. Girls and women can sometimes take a mustard seed and turn it into a mountain. Keep yourself in check. Take a step backward and ask yourself if it’s truly something that needs to be addressed with others, or if it’s something you just need to deal with on your own. Sometimes feelings are hurt because of something WE have not dealt with inside of ourselves. Is it likely to continue impacting you or the group, or is it something that will likely be forgotten pretty quickly? Ask for forgiveness when you need to; own your mistakes and wrongdoings. Don’t let the temptation to be “right” outweigh the importance of being “gracious” and in harmony with your group.
A – Assume the best. Often, friends hurt each other because of a lapse in
C – Choose. Choose to see the situation from others’ points-of-view so you can better understand their perspective. Lots of times, a person has valid reasons for feeling a certain way. They may not be true for you, but likely they have important ties to another person’s values or core truth. Choose, also, to be patient. Choose to listen – what is really causing the turbulence? Is it really what you think it is? Choose to be forgiving, knowing that you have been forgiven many times before. Choose to love. Love keeps no record of rights and wrongs (1 Corinthians, 13:5).
E – Endure. “Love endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Good friendships always hope and believe that they can make it through whatever they face. It’s a resolve and a mindset to push through this current challenge and get back to finding joy in each other.
What if I have more than one daughter?
Many mamas get involved with Courageous Girls with one daughter, then quickly find that another child is asking to join in the fun, too. Use your best judgment about when the right time is to start or join a second (or third) group with other children (we typically recommend around 2nd or 3rd grade). If you are a mama raising two girls close in age (or twins), it can work out just fine to have your girls participate in one group together. Just make sure to give special, individual time to each one at meetings. However, we would recommend that you try to have a separate group for each of your
What if I feel that my daughter is too young or not ready for a particular topic/discussion?
This is a common question from moms, so you are not alone! This concern arises especially when we are approaching topics around changes in the body, sexuality, boys and social issues like pornography, self-defense and predator prevention.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 tells us that teaching our children about God’s principles is a way of life. It says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds … Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” We are the primary teachers for our children. Teaching them that there is no topic we are unwilling to discuss and no topic God’s word does not inform us about is a powerful way to model God’s love for us in tangible ways. If you follow the curriculum listed out by ages, you will progress through developmentally appropriate topics for you and your daughter. Know that they will be exposed to these various topics (whether we like it or not) by engaging with the world (i.e.: church, school, sports teams, older siblings, friends, etc.).
Christian kids and authorities are not always the “safest”, either; we must be careful not to rely on the false thinking that we have control over our children’s environments to the point that they will not have to learn about these things. Rather than controlling all the information our daughters receive, we are trying to teach them to ask good questions, how to filter information through God’s lens, and to consider the long-term impact of their choices along the way. We are starting from a place of love, which breeds trust and hope, not fear. When we frame topics — the changes in our body, sex, boys, pornography, etc.– through the lens of love (telling us God is for us and has a plan and purpose), then we can rest assured God is still good.
The bottom line answer is: Your daughter is never too young to begin the dialogue around these issues. Sexuality is a topic best discussed from the age of two, when your daughter begins noticing the difference between mommy and daddy. We progress what we share over the years, but in the church we have compartmentalized this issue so much that it has created devastation for generations. Courageous Girls is an attempt to shift the tides. The more we normalize these kinds of conversations and dialogue throughout the years with our girls, the more we teach our daughters that there is NO topic off limits for her to talk with you about. The more we can calm our own anxieties (and it’s normal to have them), the more we can help her know that God is not caught off guard by these topics, either. Often times, moms think too much information will create anxiety in a daughter or stir up curiosity too soon. Actually, the opposite occurs. The more we know, the less we worry and the less we stumble into areas of pain with no knowledge of how to handle ourselves.
Courageous mamas engage their daughters. Though your daughter may be overwhelmed at first with new discussions (again, this is normal), you both may find that you are glad you were the one to teach her, rather than the boys at school during lunch recess. Let’s have courage and be strong for our daughters. We are the greatest teachers they will have.
Why can't I just do this with my daughter on our own?
Courageous Girls – moms and daughters – practice engaging with emotions on a regular basis. They learn how to handle their emotions, and those of others, with care. They regard one another with tenderness and utilize healthy coping strategies. If we learn how to process and regulate our emotions in a healthy way, and in the safety of our own homes growing up, we will meet those emotional needs (the ones God gave us) in legitimate ways. If we do not learn this skill, we will certainly leak all kinds of emotional waste and excess in all sorts of illegitimate ways, in order to try to meet the same needs. At the core, most maladaptive behaviors are a desperate cry for someone to experience empathy in the pain; to sit across from, or shoulder-to-shoulder with another who can gently and lovingly turn the emptiness into something less lonely and daunting. This is why the key component of Courageous Girls groups is