Daughters and Mothers: an exploration of a complex relationship
The project was part of a larger research project funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) and resulted in a podcast archived in the Community Media archive. You can listen to it here.
It was a space for both action and reflection open to any woman 18 and over. Starting the women’s group had been an aspiration of mine for some time and the research gave me a framework to design and deliver it. I chose the theme of Daughters and Mothers. This was an important theme for me as my daughter was a teenager at that time and my mother had died shortly after her birth. It clearly struck a chord with other women.
As women have multiple demands on their time and energy, I was keen not to create one more. Therefore, there was no commitment to the project other than the one each woman made to herself. Many women specifically mentioned how luxurious it felt to have two hours to discuss these issues in a facilitated format.
We used sociodrama and action methods, a dynamic and experiential way to deliver group work which enables each person to have a voice and contribute in a safe manner. People who have participated expressed appreciation of a sense of belonging and fellowship with other women, new perspectives in which to consider their relationships and for some, moments of true catharsis.
Sociodrama does not involved traditional role play. Rather it looks at the systems in which we live, work and play, the impact of those systems on ourselves and the roles we choose – however reticently – to play in the relationships we form and maintain. Understanding that new roles may consciously be created can shift the stuckness we may be experiencing in situations. We often encountered stuckness in society on a macro level and on a micro level in our own homes and as a group considered ways to develop new roles that might be more effective. Spontaneity and flexibility are tenets of sociodrama and provide vehicles for change and transformation.
The group met regularly for over a year and explored territory as diverse as menstruation to tidiness, what happens in the playground to what happens after a divorce, all within the framework of the relationship between daughters and mothers. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, we never failed to laugh, sometimes uproariously and bawdily. Irreverent was a word used more than once to describe the nature of the group; yet, respect was always paramount.