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Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World Paperback – Oct 13 2009
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“Wise, humorous, life-affirming advice for parents that is utterly respectful of girls. I recommend parents mark it up, turn the corners of pages, and heed Wiseman’s creative and practical strategies for guiding girls along the sometimes treacherous pathways of growing up today. Queen Bees and Wannabes is Mapquest for parents of girls, from fifth grade all the way to young adulthood.”—Patricia Hersch, author of A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence
“Who’s in? Who’s out? Who’s cool? Who’s not? Why is one girl elevated to royal status and another shunned? Queen Bees and Wannabes answers these unfathomable questions and so many more. Wiseman gives parents the insight, compassion, and skill needed to guide girls through the rocky terrain of the adolescent social world. This is such an honest and helpful book; we recommend it highly.” —Nina Shandler, author of Ophelia’s Mom and Sara Shandler, author of the bestselling Ophelia Speaks
“Laced with humor, insight, and practical suggestions, Queen Bees and Wannabes is the one volume that’s been missing from the growing shelf of girl-centered publications. Wiseman explains the inner workings of teen culture and teaches parents, educators, and peers how to respond.”—Whitney Ransome and Meg Miln Moulton, executive directors, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools
“Wiseman cuts through wishful parental thinking with a wonderful mixture of humor, facts, girls’ voices, and a healthy dollop of reality. No, the harm cliques cause is not a natural fact of life. Wiseman gives us both hope and strategies to help our girls (and boys) build a more healthy, nurturing world for themselves.”—Joe Kelly, author, Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand and Support Your Daughter When She's Growing Up So Fast, executive director, Dads and Daughters
“Rosalind Wiseman invites us into the “Girl World” with insight, honesty, and humor. Based on the most thorough, helpful research I know of, this book should be required reading for parents, teachers, and health professionals.” —Edes P. Gilbert, acting president, Independent Educational Services
About the Author
ROSALIND WISEMAN is an internationally recognized expert on children, teens, parenting, bullying, social justice, and ethical leadership.
Wiseman is the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence (Crown, 2002). Twice a New York Times Bestseller, Queen Bees & Wannabes was the basis for the 2004 movie Mean Girls. In fall 2009, an updated edition of Queen Bees & Wannabes will be republished with a chapter on younger girls, insights on how technology has impacted kids’ social landscapes, and new commentary from girls and boys. Her follow‐up book Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads was released in 2006, and she is a monthly columnist for Family Circle magazine.
Additional publications include the Owning Up Curriculum, a comprehensive social justice program for grades 6‐12, and a forthcoming young adult novel, Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials, in stores in January 2010.
Since founding the Empower Program, a national violence‐prevention program, in 1992, Wiseman has gone on to work with tens of thousands of students, educators, parents, counselors, coaches, and administrators to create communities based on the belief that each person has a responsibility to treat themselves and others with dignity. Audiences have included the American School Counselors Association, Capital One, National Education Association, Girl Scouts, Neutrogena, Young Presidents Association, Independent School Associations and the International Chiefs of Police, as well as countless schools throughout the U.S. and abroad.
National media regularly depends on Wiseman as the expert on ethical leadership, media literacy, bullying prevention, and school violence. She is a frequent guest on the Today Show and been profiled in The New York Times, People, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, USA Today, Oprah, Nightline, CNN, Good Morning America, and National Public Radio affiliates throughout the country.
Wiseman holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Occidental College. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and two sons.
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My "lunch tray moments" consisted of going from table to table, trying to sit down, and kids telling me I wasn't welcome to sit with them, and then eating by myself in the detention room, the only place that would have me. My "gym class moments" consisted of being the girl left over when the last team captain chose the second-to-last girl, and then the other team captain declaring she never picked me and that I was not on her team. I adapted first making friends with the neighborhood dogs who all accepted me with love and dignity, and then by getting involved with out-of-school activities and making lots of friends outside of school. By 10th grade, I had friends at school again.
It is with this background that I read "Queen Bees and Wanna Bees"--the book I wish had been around in the 1970s when I suffered the trauma of being a target. I am appalled that these dynamics continue to this day, and that targets have it WORSE than I did. When I got home, the bullying stopped, and I was free to do my homework, not to be bullied until bright and early the next day. Now the bullying of targets is CONSTANT, via Facebook, email, text message, etc. Mothers and Dads, PLEASE take the plight of the targets seriously--it's not just a bit of girl drama--it's BRUTAL to experience.
I am relieved an adult finally took notice of these dynamics, understands them, and not only explains them to parents, she them what to do about it and how to PREVENT it. Wiseman advises parents to create a code of family behavior where family members treat people with dignity, outside the family as well as with. An example is the first chapter on technology, new to this revised edition. Parents are advised when they allow adolescents and teens to have email accounts, Facebook accounts, cell phones, etc. that they sign a family contract which explains they will not use these technologies to embarrass people, humiliate them, spread lies, disseminate naked- or half-naked photos, etc. And the contract specifies punishments for first, second, and third offenses. I think this entire chapter shows brilliance, and is worth the price of the book alone.
It's not just the parents of the target who need this book, but the parents of the queen bee bullies and people users, and the bystanders who stand there silently, not taking a stand on behalf of the targets, and rewarding the queen bees with their allegiance and friendship. For example, there's an example in the book of how to talk to your daughter after she paid a popular boy $5.00 to ask out a target and then dump her the next day. The hypothetical mom marches her daughter over to apologize to the target, and tells her daughter, "If you apologize with a fake or mean tone in your voice or the content of your words comes across as giving a fake apology, then I will apologize on your behalf. And since you did it at school, you are also going to apologize to your teacher and principal for going against the school's rules of treating people with dignity."
Another important concept of the book is to realize that girls within cliques deal with the straightjacket of conformity--hair, clothes, hobbies, behavior, etc, and often put up with verbal abuse from the queen bees. These girls internalize that it's better to put up with abuse than be ostracized from the group. This sets the stage for them to become women who put up with abusive relationships rather than leave.
As much as I don't like to deduct a star from this must-read book, the presentation is uneven. Parts of the book are totally brilliant, while other parts appear scant and hastily written. For example, Wiseman describes different types of parents. Some of these types just have a few sentences written about them and no concrete examples. Plus she misses a lot of types. Or there will be teasers, "If She Says `You Don't Trust Me!'" but no follow up on how to handle this comment.
My main grievance with the book is that I think Wiseman is way too overpermissive in letting a girl wear whatever she wants. I can understand Wiseman's arguments for letting a girl wear green hair, or be Goth if she wants to be. But going out of the house looking too sexy at too young an age? Wiseman says to discuss it with her, but then let her do what she wants. No way! Wiseman wants parents to put their foot down when it comes to the appropriate use of technology, but she becomes meek and overpermissive when it comes to inappropriate wardrobe. Also, when your daughter says she "needs" the latest greatest expensive shoes or purse, parents are supposed to understand how crucial this is for her and to not always say no to these request. IMO, when parents give into this high fashion nonsense, they're training their daughters to be materialistic, manipulative, and spendy. So many parents are afraid to say "no" to their child beginning at age 2, they create these entitled fashion snobs we see today.
If more parents had and enforced a code of behavior, not only how to treat people in the household, but out of the house, our schools and our world would be a better place. Likewise, I'd like to see school teachers and administrators read this book, and come up with codes of anti-bullying behavior where everyone at the school treats everyone else with dignity. If and when more adults get on board with anti-bullying, school will not only be physically and emotionally a safer place, but students more able to learn and compete academically with students from other nations.
P.S. My personal story has a happy ending. In addition to being happily married to the best husband in the world and having lots of friends, I've reconnected with my former best friend, and am now friends with one of the queen bees. It doesn't pay to hold grudges. :-)
The first issue that I had with this book was with the "quotes" from teenaged girls. I'll just come out and say that I don't buy that they're authentic. Teenage girls don't talk this way. I got the impression that a lot of the quotes were either heavily edited to fit the points Wiseman wanted to make or fabricated altogether.
The next problem I had was with the shockingly bad advice given. Wiseman advises that girls being shut out or bullied should handle the teasing like mature adults by directly addressing it, telling the mean girl it hurts their feelings and they want it to stop, and then "affirming" the teaser and their relationship. Like someone else said, the mean girls would have a field day with this. They'd think it was hilarious and it would just lead to more humiliation for the target. For example, she encourages the target to approach the mean girl and say, "Hi, there's something I really need to talk to you about. Can you meet me during study hall in the library at 11:00?" In her scenario, the mean girl actually agrees, and the target proceeds to have a private meeting where she tells the girl she wants her to stop teasing her, saying things like, "[Teasing] really hurts me. I wanted it stopped. I don't know why you don't like me. I would like us to be civil to each other and respect each other."
She fails to take into account the fact that in real life, the mean girl would laugh in the target's face when she requested the meeting and then relentlessly mock and ridicule her to the rest of the clique, especially if the meeting actually happened (it probably wouldn't) and the target delivered that speech. Advising your child to do this is just setting her up for more ridicule and humiliation. It exacerbates the problem instead of resolving it.
That's just the thing Wiseman doesn't seem to get. Teens aren't mature adults, and what works for an adult isn't going to work for a 13 year old "target" who is being ostracized by the school bitch. She's also too quick to encourage parents not to get involved unless it's a last resort. In some of these situations, the best possible thing, and only thing that will be effective, is for the parent to get involved and put a stop to it immediately. Not wait until the abuse from the mean girl has become so unbearable that it's your last resort.
I came away from the book feeling that Wiseman doesn't understand teen girls or the middle and high school social scene nearly as well as she seems to think she does.
After watching Mean Girls and hearing about this book that was the basis for the movie I was immediately interested simply because the movie was hilarious and quite dramatic. At the time i had no idea that it was a guide for parents. Upon buying the book and finding this out, I felt like I was getting the inside scoop on what parents are thinking when they communicate and deal with their adolescents. I must say, the book is shocking. As a girl who has been living in Jamaica my entire life except for the two years i lived in Canada (at an age too young to compare to situations in the book), I have never really experienced any such horrid situations, and I have attended a public high school as well as a private high school. My friends and I often have conversations in which we express how baffled we are at the behaviour and thoughts of American girls. Based on images of American girls we are presented with in the media and books like these we are amazed at how mean, insecure, self destructive, lost, and/or weak these girls seem to be. This book can neither be applied to my own life nor the lives of any girl I know in Jamaica. We read about or see these situations on TV and go "What?! these girls are crazy!!".
I'm not saying this is the opinion of all Jamaican girls and I am not saying all American girls are like this, but I can definitely speak for all the girls I know who live here (excluding perhaps the girls at the American International School of Kingston because in my experience they are quite Americanized and cannot be considered as average Jamaican girls).
So the book was a good buy in the sense that it is interesting to read about these EXTREME experiences that American girls go through, in the same way that it is entertaining to watch the movie Mean Girls. However, I would never let my parents read this book, lest they should think that all the things mentioned are happening in my life and at my school, which they are not.
I also do not like how the author lumps teenage girls into specific stereotypes and characters. It annoys me in the same way I am annoyed when adults say "teenagers these days" followed by something negative that 99% of the time does not apply to me and does not apply to most of my friends. Also the section where she talks about Black girls and she speaks in a 'did you know' style is quite disturbing. She says that the long beautiful braids that Black girls/women wear are hair extensions which cost hundreds of dollars and take hours to put in. Firstly, not all braids are hair extensions. As a matter of fact, in Jamaica, most adolescents' braids are natural because most schools here do not allow hair extensions. And hardly anyone pays that much for hair extensions. I have never worn hair extensions in my entire life and I never will.
Anyway, the point is that the book does not apply to all teenagers and it is dangerous in the hands of any parent whose teen or adolescent is not actually doing these things and having these experiences.
This book is rather terrifying. But unlike a lot of parenting books (especially those that are more like studies of all the things that are going wrong with kids nowadays), this book has tons of practical help. There are great ideas to help your daughter navigate the shark-infested waters of teenager-hood. (I wish I'd had this book a few years ago when we were enduring a particularly nasty fifth grade year.)
This book will definitely help me to help my three daughters survive and thrive during their pre-teen and teenage years. I have recommended it to everyone I know with daughters. If you buy one book this year, make it this one!