Leshundra Robinson and the UCAN team are putting in the work to break down barriers and improve communication skills between mothers and daughters during the Girls N’ Pearls Candid Conversation Summit. (Courtesy photo)

Three concepts – healing, strengthening, and transformation – have been woven into a theme for the upcoming Girls N’ Pearls Candid Conversation Summit shaped by UCAN of Memphis and its executive director, Leshundra Robinson.

Robinson and the UCAN team are putting in the work to break down barriers and improve communication skills between mothers and daughters. It’s a need that Robinson knows is real from personal experience, an anchoring fact she shared in an exchange with The New Tri-State Defender.

The summit is an open summons for mothers and their daughters, between the ages of 8 and 19, who want to build stronger relationships during the developmental and young adult years. It’s set for Saturday (May 28) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The gathering place is Young Life, which is located at 1177 Poplar Ave.

Yes, there is a cost: $20 per mother/daughter duo and $10 for each additional child. However, UCAN – a nonprofit Robinson founded in 2006 as a mentoring and anti-bullying organization – doesn’t want to turn away anyone who feels the information could be beneficial. Tickets are available at www.ucanofmemphis.org. Or, call 901-262-8642.

With more than 20 years of experience in youth development, Robinson essentially is a social responsibility coach for teens. She coaches concepts and principles in six Shelby County Schools.

The purpose? Empower teens with “tools to build, become empowered and implement self-worth.” That all adds up to the Girls N’ Pearls Candid Conversation Summit being the next step in a journey.

Robinson is the mother of three adult children.

“I learned first-hand the importance of having healthy communication with my daughter,” she said in a media release pitching the summit. “You need to have the right tools such as understanding, patience, and mutual respect.”

Cindricka Arrington – project/program strategist, professor, entrepreneur, and author – will be the keynote speaker at the Girls N’ Pearls Candid Conversation Summit. (Courtesy photo)

To that end, the summit will present experts to show mothers and daughters how to express themselves in ways that yield positive outcomes and improved relationships.

“We’re also going to mix in a little fun,” said Robinson.

There will be break-out sessions, engaging activities, and lunch. Each mother or female guardian will receive a special gift.

The New Tri-State Defender wanted to know, with Associate Publisher/Executive Editor Karanja A. Ajanaku reaching out to Robinson.

TSD: Please share an example of a communication scenario in which you learned “the importance of having healthy communication with my daughter.”

Leshundra Robinson: After my divorce, I had to rebuild trust with my kids, especially my daughter. She is a daddy’s girl and didn’t understand why the divorce had to happen. At first, I was very private about the situation but realized that for me to gain her trust, for her to communicate with me and not be standoffish, I had to open up.

It took a year to rebuild that line of trust and for her to communicate with me about what had been bothering her. During that time, her father, her, and I decided to go to counseling because she was depressed and shut down. When we went to counseling (we) found out she had been bullied for three years. She said she didn’t want to say anything because of the divorce and she was afraid.

At that moment I reminded myself that we had to put our egos aside and be there for her so she could have a healthy line of communication with both of us, but especially me because she lived with me. Now we are very close and she is able to open up to me with only a small reservation of privacy.

TSD: What common missteps do mothers generally make regarding communication with their daughters?

Robinson: Common mistakes I hear many daughters say about communication with their mom are: 

“They don’t understand me.” 

“They always say ‘Back in my day we didn’t do that.’” 

And the most important one is, “They judge me before I can even tell them what happened and why.”

Mothers often listen to respond rather than to listen to understand. We don’t want them to make the same mistakes we made when we were younger, but we have to understand they have to experience the hurt to understand the pain to not do it again.

TSD: Please share a glimpse of the communication scenario with your mother and any lessons learned directly and/or indirectly.

Robinson: My mother was very protective, even when I became an adult. If I was to go out of town or stay out late at night, she would say, “Be sure to call me and let me know when you arrive and leave.”  I felt I was grown and I didn’t have to but little did I know she was showing concern for me and my surroundings.

It wasn’t that she didn’t trust me, she didn’t want anything to happen to me and find out on the news or by word of mouth. I didn’t understand that until I became a parent and my kids were old enough to go out on their own. I became my mother and had them communicate with me often just to make sure they were safe. 

The world is different now and, just like my mom, I didn’t want the risk of having something happen to my kids and I hear about it on the news or by word of mouth. They understand that now and respect my wishes. And, in return, I keep them aware of my travels so they won’t have to worry.

(To register, visit https://girlsnpearls2022.eventbrite.com.)