NH Register Story on Hillhouse Mother-Daughter Tea

New Haven mothers, daughters share tea and love (video)
Sunday, May 8, 2011
By Pamela McLoughlin, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — ’Tis true there are many teenage girls who would rather have a root canal than mingle with their moms, but at Hillhouse High School Saturday that attitude was nowhere to be found.

About 25 girls who are students, and their mothers, grandmothers, aunts and godmothers, gathered in the school’s parent resource center for an old-fashioned Mother’s Day tea put on by the center’s coordinator, Carroll E. Brown.
The room, normally permeated by earth tones, was festive and girly — done in pinks with balloons and flowers. The women and their girls enjoyed sandwiches, salads and punch, as well as one another.

In the end, it was all about the bond between girls and their mothers or mother figures.

“I have a deep connection with my mother,” said freshman Brittany Palmer, 15. “My mom teaches me to be caring, to have a heart and know when something’s wrong. My dad teaches me how to keep safe.”

Sharon said before she even had Brittany, she knew communication would be important. She held “conversations” with Brittany long before the girl spoke, relying on gestures and expressions. Brittany has always been an honor student, but Sharon said she leaves nothing to chance and still emails her daughter’s teachers every week.

“I teach her life is not only what you see, it’s beyond that,” Sharon Palmer said, referring to the world outside New Haven and the United States.

Brittany said her mom is a good role model because, “She doesn’t let anyone dictate who she is ... She stands her ground.”

Shanice Felder, 18, a senior, said her mom, Gail Felder, is caring and warm, but strict when she has to be.

“She’s able to balance being strict, but she’s a fun-loving mom,” Shanice said.

Shanice’s grandmother, Beverly Little, said she thinks the secret to a good mother/daughter relationship is mutual trust. That leads to honesty, she said.

Still, Little, the mother of six, said she always reminded her kids when necessary: “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent.”

Gail Felder said she and Shanice not only have trust, they also have fun with activities such as getting their nails done and shopping.

“She’s always there for me and I’m always there for her,” Gail Felder said.

Kia Smith, 18, a senior, said her mother, Barbara Nelson, does an amazing job keeping all the family affairs in order and staying organized.
“What’s special about a mother is that they can’t be duplicated,” Smith said. “You can have another sister, another cousin, another aunt, but not another mother.”
Brown, a modern woman with many traditional values, sent out invitations for this first Mother’s Day tea at the school and had a pianist provide background music. There was entertainment — mostly students — and the moms, most of whom didn’t know each other before the tea, chatted up a storm.

Brown said she didn’t have to tell the girls to dress up because they already know what she expects.

Ariel Waite, 15, a freshman, said her mom, Alena Griffith, is always there for her to help or talk.

Griffith said that’s how it should be because communication is key to a healthy mother/daughter relationship.

“Your kid is supposed to be able to come and talk to you about anything,” she said. “It’s love.”