on October 1, 2007
This book does contain some helpful information. I specifically appreciate the parts on decoding what others are saying and things you are to never say (like "I don't know what you're teaching your kids, but we teach ours to be polite"). I also really enjoyed the quotes from teachers, counselors, coaches and principals.
However, some of the suggestions for dealing with conflict boggle my mind. For instance, the author says if someone else schedules a birthday party on the same day as your child's party, you should call up the other parents, and suggest a joint party or give them the chance to "do the right thing," which is apparently for those parents to cancel/reschedule their child's party. I find this to be absurd, impractical, and potentially embarrassing to your child. First of all, if you are the one with the problem with the parties, you should reschedule your child's party. Why are you trying to make your problem their problem? Perhaps you could make a joint party work, but either that child wasn't invited to your child's party in the first place, or that child WAS invited but decided to have his own party. Either way, it doesn't bode well for a joint party. I think another suggestion was for the parents of both kids to send out a joint letter stating that they expect the kids to honor their first commitment to one of the parties. Again, I find this micromanaging and awkward.
There are other instances of this but I think you can get the idea. First she says don't micromanage your child's social life and then seems to suggest you do that very thing. There is helpful information here, just don't swallow everything without a little common sense.
on March 8, 2006
Rosalind Wiseman delivers wonderfully on the promise of providing greater understanding of the extra-parental adults who wield amazing power in our childrens' unfolding lives. In doing so, she also demands that we tame the Queen Bee or Kingpin lurking within or that, in the absence of these personality traits, gain the confidence and self-regard to step-up in ways that empower ourselves and our kids.
Even better, Ms. Wiseman seems to understand kids as they really are (as opposed to how parents want them to be) and presents the information square on, with the feel of a friend who knows you well enough to tell you the truth unflinchingly. When she mentions that her son's abiding passion - over studying - is his X-Box, we know what she means. When she discusses her desire for her sons to know that "mom will always find out" if they've done something ill-considered, one nods in understanding.
So for every parent who wonders who to guide their kids' relationships - with other kids and adults alike - in positive, healthy, non-meddling, and non-social-death (in the words of a 13 year old I know) ways, I can't think of a better resource. From descriptions of the parental personality types one is likely to encounter at the PTA meeting or fundraiser and how to deal with them to frank suggestions on the it's-good-for-all-of-us need to keep Bat Mitzvah celebrations to reasonably minimums, refrain from writing your kids' college aps and confront a friend who you believe might be taking a parenting misstep while preserving the relationship, Ms. Wiseman covers it all well and thoroughly.
I don't live in Perfect Parent World, do you? And with this book, I feel like I've got a map to find my way around.
on April 4, 2006
At its core, the book calls on us all to maintain a civil discourse when dealing with the other adults in our child's life. I found something relating to my daily life in each chapter. Here are some ideas from Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads that I have already used since I bought the book two weeks ago...
1. Frank descriptions about how parents of different races see each other...
My daughter's school is majority minority. The PTA is majority white. The book has helped me figure out the dynamics of the group and take small steps to get them to consider this as a problem.
2. Remember that all parent s want what is best for their children....
Our school listserv was getting out of hand last week with an argument about how colds were spread (seriously!). I pulled a quote from the book and reminded everyone that we need to assume that fellow parents are coming from a good and positive place regarding their children. If you can imagine how much that other mom loves her child, maybe you can have some empathy for her rather than just react negatively to what she says.
3. Make a plan to make change...
A girl was gossiping about my 1st grader and making her school day miserable. Using the steps in the book I helped my child take necessary action to confront her classmate, then had a very successful conversation with the other mom that resulted in positive change instead of a defensive argument.
4. Look at your own reaction to other parents...
There were several chapters in the book that helped me focus on my own reactions. Like freaking out when someone talks about a program her child is in - maybe it is better than what my kids are signed up for! Or not letting a bragging mom make me feel inferior. We also need to own up to the negative things we do to other parents.
5. Recognize the myth of perfect parent world...
Everyone's life seems perfect until you get to know them. I have several very good friends who seem to live in perfect parent world. Really - no baby goo on their clothes, flat stomachs after 4 kids, perfect hair, perfect house. Intimidating! But once I got to know them, I realized that nobody's life is that perfect. Everyone gets mad at their kids and needs to vent. Everyone has problems, especially parents.
6. Dad's are in it too...
Dads deal with the same things moms do, and are more capable than their wives think. They need to go to PTA meetings and teacher conferences (and not just when there is a problem). They also get involved in the negative perfect parent world stuff too. Half the book is devoted to dads, which is unusual for this type of book.
The book gave me a whole new set of tools for dealing with common parenting conflicts.
I've already ordered my 2nd round of extra copies for friends. One dad friend is half way through it after just a week. He is constantly dealing with the issues in the book while coaching soccer, softball, etc.
(As for the negative comment below, I saw Wiseman speak once and she told stories about her kids. I recall that she has two boys. )
Your child is the only one in class not invited to a birthday party. Should you call the parents to try to wrangle an invitation?
You overhear some parents making rude comments about your daughter's outfit. Do you confront them?
Your child flunks a test that you know he studied for and should have aced. He said the teacher refused to discuss it. Do you step in?
Or maybe you're dreading back to school night. What should you wear? Will anyone talk to you? Should you even go?
Rosalind Wiseman tackles all of these questions and more in Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads, a follow-up to her bestselling Queen Bees & Wannabees.
The book starts with the premise that the same cliques that ruled our lives in school continue into adulthood. Maybe you're a Queen Bee type, who helps run the school but also steps on a lot of toes. Maybe you're a Sidekick, or a Desperate Wannabee.
Wiseman doesn't let men off the hook. She gives dads labels too, including Caveman Dad. When you're reading, you can't help but wonder where you fit in, just as you think about your friends and other parents.
The book isn't about labeling as much as understanding how our roles affect how we see situations, how we deal with problems and how other people see us.
Wiseman gives a lot of practical advice, from dealing with coaches, principals, teachers and even people of other religions and ethnic backgrounds. The book, which addresses topics such as college entrance exams and alcohol abuse, is clearly aimed at parents of older students. But all parents will benefit from the strategies and advice.
While the book is educational, it's also a fun and fast read with lots of juicy, real-life examples. She liberally uses transcribed comments from parents and adults discussing their personal stories. Some of them are so awful and entertaining that it's a guilty pleasure to read them.
The book's organization also works well. She has sample dialogs so the reader can see how important a script is when you're going to have a tricky conversation. Wiseman also includes boxed "landmines" that tell you specific comments to avoid, like threatening to sue the school before you've even said hello.
In a kind of supertitle, the cover of the book says: Dealing with The Parents, Teachers, Coaches, and Counselors Who can Make - Or Break - Your Child's Future.
Doesn't everyone want to learn how to accomplish that?
on February 7, 2008
I have two elementary-aged girls and bought this book hoping it would help me communicate with other adults in their lives in a productive manner. Mrs. Wiseman injects humor, incorporates real-life stories from parents across the country and provides step by step how-to strategies for dealing with difficult situations. While you might have moved on from 7th grade you will be amazed by the number of folks who have not and these include your children's teachers, coaches, friend's parents, etc. At the very least this book helps you recognize some of the personalities you will encounter.
on April 3, 2006
I just read Rosalind Wiseman's new book, and I was nothing short of thoroughly impressed. I can really think of no genre of literature that gives me a headache quite like parenting self-help books, But I found Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads to be extremely enjoyable, in addition to being an incredibly honest, funny, and effective strategy guide for dealing with a host of situations in my life now that I'm a parent. I was particularly taken aback by "EStark" and her review below, which lambasted Wiseman for not having the credentials to discuss the topic, or even having kids. I would like to point out to Ms. Stark (whose opinion I question because she has not taken the time to validate her own claims) that from very minimal internet research one will find that Rosalind Wiseman has taught kids across the country for 15 years through the non-profit anti-bullying organization she started. She also is married and has two children. In reading the book it couldn't be more clear that she has both done her homework and more than anything is able to do something so few of us are willing to in our social circles, even as grown-ups--to acknowledge that sometimes we treat one another the worst under the guise of playing nice. I would recommend this book to anyone with children. Truly insightful!
on April 24, 2006
I found Rosalind Wiseman's new book wonderful - not only because of the useful advice it provides, but also for her honest tone and great perspective. Another reviewer wrote that it was like listening to the advice of a friend who knows you well enough to speak unflinchingly. I couldn't agree more. The book is immensely readable and it feels as if Ms. Wiseman is pulling us aside and leveling with us - not in a condescending manner, but as a confidant and friend. She reminds us that "Perfect Parent World" doesn't exist and that we have to think carefully about when and how to intervene in our children's lives.
I was surprised to read the review from "MovedbyMusic" that suggested Ms. Wiseman deemed so many situations as making or breaking a childhood - I felt just the opposite. Ms. Wiseman writes often about the fact that children have to fight their own battles and also that disappointments are natural and help them grow. Even when parent intervention is called for, Ms. Wiseman suggests helping the child lead the charge (in talking to the administration, coach or teacher). And instead of intervening to mitigate the inevitable disappointments associated with growing up (such as not being selected for a team or school play), Ms. Wiseman advocates that parents recognize the lessons children gain from such incidents rather than trying to ease their way through every turn during their teen years.
When intervention is called for, Ms. Wiseman's book lays out a valuable step-by-step guide for working with your child to address grievances and how to escalate things when needed. Whether you ever encounter the same types of situations she describes, the techniques are useful ones that can be applied broadly.
I found the book to be an excellent and well needed wake-up call to parents (and, not coincidentally, useful for their kids as well).
on September 22, 2009
This book left me feeling as if either I am terribly naive or clueless, or am fortunate to have my kids at a school where there are few queen bee moms, wannabe moms, and kingpin dads, just to name a few. I still have not figured out what my situation is, but the book was eye opening and there were definitely some situations mentioned that I could relate to as well as some tips gleaned from the book. The examples and topics covered seemed mostly related to middle school, which I have not quite reached yet in my parenting so maybe in a few years the book may have more relevance for me.
One of the topics touched on in the book related to how socio-economic differences between families can preclude friendships from happening between families, or at least cause discomfort to the less financially fortunate. That part of the book was small, but well-written and gave me solace since I face some (I like to think) unintentional exclusion at times because of our financial status. One example given was by a woman who always tries extra hard to make a good impression by making sure she cleans her house extra well when the wealthier kids come over and how intimidated she feels.
The author also makes some good points related to the roles of dads when conflicts occur between children, and how so often dad will just pass the phone over to mom to handle it.
Some of the author's advice for handling conflicts between children I had to take with a grain of salt - is it always best to be forthright with another parent when your child gets hurt feelings? I don't think so. In a perfect world, we would all wear our hearts on our sleeves and tell friends and acquaintances alike when they have done something that caused us pain. In the real world, we have to learn coping mechanisms and "playing the game" sometimes. An example? Would you really want to have your child open their heart about their hurt feelings to a child that has already proven themselves to be power-hungry and might, in fact, just feel more empowered learning that they have the ability to make your child miserable? I don't think so. Sometimes, learning to have stiff upper lip and ignore others comments ("consider the source" as my mom always used to say when someone hurt me) is sometimes the best way to go, and what I recommend to my daughter.
All in all, a thought provoking and interesting book. It didn't impress or inform me as much as I expected, but it did have some thoughtful examples and quotes from other parents which I found to be the most useful parts of the book.
on May 14, 2009
My child's teacher suggested I read this book, after dealing with self righteous parents, who injected themselves into my child's life through their kids. Righteous parents are always confident that their kids are perfect and that they themselves are quintessential parent. I'm constantly amazed by parents who think that giving material things will compensate for not spending time with their children, and that staying out of their kids' business is projected as "democratic" parenting. However; this book opened my eyes to the fact that we need to let our kids fight their own battles sometimes. Being overly protective might send the message to our kids that they are not capable or strong enough to handle their problems.
The trick is deciding when to step in and when to back off and this book will teach the trick to every parent who is open minded enough to admit that they are not perfect. The book taught me that I can't protect my child from all heart breaking experiences and that allowing her to go through the pain might help her become stronger as she grows up. Our children will encounter different bullies/situations throughout their lives. Sometimes we need to let them make their decisions and other times it is our duty to confront the adult bullies behind the young bullies in their lives.
One other valuable new thing I learned from this book is that the game of bullying and authority struggles that we face as kids might extend to the parents' world. Dictator parents never grow up and seek to expand their authority through their kids to other parents. It is true that" the apple doesn't fall far from the tree". Our duty as parents is to not follow the dictator parents in our community who think that they can rule the world and bully teachers and other parents. This book is priceless; while other people harshly attack this book, please see for your self.
on March 10, 2006
Ms. Wiseman first offered parents a guide to help daughters successfully navigate "girl world" in a previous book. The Mean Girls movie that followed educated millions more about fallout from relational aggression. Now she returns to a new aspect of familiar territory--essential but aggressive adults around your child who can derail both you and her. Their strategies aren't so different than the ones used everyday in the halls of middle school, just a bit more polished and poisonous. The next time your child isn't chosen for a part in the school play you know she deserved, run to this book where you're bound to find an explanation. It's wisdom will help many readers find a steady seat for their kids and themselves in the roller coaster world of middle school.