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Sat, 09-15-2012 - 7:42am

Please talk to me about this, Especially you wise moms with older children who are past this whole thing.....  I have a 9th grader and I have an 8th grader, Hearing them call other girls the "Popular" ones stings and while I don't dismiss that I don't want them growing up intimidated by it either.  My 8th grader tried out for a specific part in the school play this year and lost it to a girl she called the "popular" one, My 9th grader is no stranger to the differences in crowds either.  I try to downplay it but deep down, Ido believe SOME teachers play favortism there, And there was a case in which we brought this all up at my DD's IEP meeting, The director of special education was blunt and just called the differences in kids the haves and have nots, I could have argued that one for hours, Lol but her point wasn't to offend..  Then you have parents that actually believe these categories matter too, My friend's DD is on the drill team and she has told me that popular-ness is important. 

I don't know and thanks for your input.  I am trying to raise my kids to believe this doesn't matter, I am grateful we talk and they do stick up for themselves, But it bothers me too that these cliques get in the way of some ambitions at school. 

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Registered: 04-20-2012
Thu, 09-20-2012 - 2:14pm
ashmama wrote:

Have your kids read "Queen Bees and Wannabes." It will give them a lot of insight into the dynamics of teen social groups. (There's another version, too, called "Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads" about similar adult behavior.) Both ring true for me.

FWIW, the so-called popular kids aren't really so popular. What they are is socially dominant, so many kids who aren't in that group want to be in, but those on the inside really aren't very happy. They tend to jockey for position and have to observe a very strict, though often unspoken, code of behavior just to stay "in." Their freedom to choose so-called outcast kids as friends is limited, and their own wishes and desires are subjugated to those of the group. Who in their right mind would want that for their child?

I know from friends whose kids have been in the "in" group that they often don't like one another very much. There's a lot of backstabbing and gossip, and no one ever feels safe. Personally, I think friend groups should be safety groups!

The bad news is that these are the kids who get noticed by teachers and other parents, and maybe they do become favorites, but for every teacher who wants to be popular with the "in" crowd, there are 2 who really care about all the kids and see their role more as mentor and guide.

The really good news is that these groups are never more pronounced than they are during the 7-9th grade years. After that, kids mature and find groups based on common interests and values. In spite of what the movies portray, the really nasty cliques dissipate by the later high school years.

And it's not just the girls who have to deal with this. My son, now a 10th grader, looks at his 3 years in middle school as "a living hell." (his words.) He's on the Asperger's spectrum, so you can just imagine how horrible things were for him. My daughter, now a senior, was well-respected in middle school, but even she had one horrible semester in 7th grade when a former friend turned on her and tried to manipulate others into doing so. (And yep, many of her "friends" were weak enough to go along.) The evil mama bear in me is petty enough  to report all these years later that the other girl is now a very overweight B minus student. (Slap me, I'm bad.)

 


Huge ditto to the "Queen Bees and Wannabees". Seems like I talked to my kids until I was blue in the face but the message never really "stuck" until they read that book. I didn't know there was an adult version!

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Registered: 08-08-2009
Sun, 09-16-2012 - 11:26pm

We do things in a big way down here in the banana Republic of Texas.  Thinking about what some of you said about the crazy mothers and fathers, these thoughts came to mind:

About twenty years ago there was this crazy mother of a cheerleader who tried to arrange for a hit contract on the mother of one of her daughter’s rivals on the squad, thinking that the girl would be unable to compete because of her grief over losing her mother.  They was even a made for TV movie about it.  I remember thinking, I wouldn’t take any chances, forget the old lady, I would take out the daughter and make sure.  Just joking in that last sentence.  Please don’t call the cops on me.

Some of these school districts down here have very small elite cheerleading squads that cost upwards from a mere $5,000 for costumes each year.  One of my cousin’s daughters lived in one of those districts and needless to say did not go out for cheerleading for that reason.  To me this is insane and the district is at fault for allowing such meanness and stupidity to exist.  Fortunately for our daughters and their parents, our district limited costume budgets to less than $500 with very large squads to make it more inclusive for all the girls interested. They also encouraged those graduating to donate their costumes for less financially fortunate girls to use the following year, which most girls do. 

That same cousin has a son who now works for this Rose Festival Foundation in that same town that has an annual coronation of the Rose Queen and her royal court every year. The festival dates back something like eighty or ninety years to when that area was the Rose capital of the country; back before most of the roses started being imported from Latin American countries.  For this honor, the queen’s family pays several hundred thousand dollars plus another thirty to fifty thousand for the wardrobe required.  The families of the girls in the Queens Court get off for a mere twenty to fifty thousand depending on how close they are seated to the queen. Being ROYAL for a day ain’t cheap. I seriously thought this was a JOKE the first time I heard it explained.  What honor is there in buying the crown?  Burger King gives them away with the children’s meal.

Everything’s bigger and grander here in Texas-- even our crazy people.

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Registered: 08-08-2009
Sun, 09-16-2012 - 11:15pm
It’s always a delight to hear a story with a good ending! And Rawnda is a great place to invest your life in.
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Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 09-16-2012 - 12:47pm

What you said about some of the popular kids being at the top of their game in high school & then flaming out reminded me of this one girl I went to high school with.  She was a beauty queen in h.s., was in the Miss America pageant, she was also smart (our school was only college prep).  She was nice enough, but not one of my close friends.  Well I lost track of her, then someone found her on Facebook--she ended up getting her PHD in psychology and has started a charity in Rwanda to help the orphans from the genocide.  I chatted with her a little on IM and I just so admire what she's doing.  She said she found her purpose in life--but talk about a 180 from just the superficial beauty queen.  I can imagine that the beauty queens who just want to succeed on their looks are kind of unhappy when their looks start to fade and they have no backup.

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Registered: 08-08-2009
In reply to:
Sun, 09-16-2012 - 12:27am

WOW, this is a really interesting thread. Lots of good advice above!

I’m not a “wise mom,” but I will chime in with a few thoughts. Our two daughters and SILs are about six years older than your daughters. 

The cute, attractive, bright, and athletic kids do get some advantages in life, but . . . life has a way of evening up things (or getting even) with those popular jocks and hotties in the out years.  Most flame out. 

There is a book titled A MIND AT A TIME by Mel Levine MD about “his work with kids with a difference.”  One of his comments is about wanting to reach out and grab troubled children and convey something like this to them, “Take a long hard look at that kid in your class who is super cool, popular, advantaged and keep in mind that you may be seeing him at the very top of his game and those skills he has that serve him so well now may not serve him so well and kindly in later life.”

One of the advantages of not having all the advantages early in life is that you get to observe how fleeting and unimportant many things are.  If I am what I am because of what I have, what am I when that is gone? What is left after age strips away outer beauty?  Do I have any inner beauty?  When life strips away my athletic gifts, what am I left with? Just how important is being prom queen or king?  Will anyone, including me, care next year or in ten or twenty years?  The questions are endless. And we all know those whose best days are long past.  Sadly, quite a few of those Playboy centerfolds drop into hard porn and then prostitution.  The magazine doesn’t celebrate those.  How many of the great sports superstars fade into substance abuse and some into prison?  How sad are the child actors who once were mega stars, but are no more.  Again the list of questions is endless.

Youngest SIL, youngest of the four, is our aspie (on the Asperger’s spectrum) and school life was unbearably painful for him until the summer he was 10 and a boy a year older moved into the neighborhood and they became best buds. Older one protected the younger on the social end while the younger one tutored the older one with school work.  As the older one jokingly says, “What’s not to like about a guy who thinks his purpose in life is to make sure you succeed in life?”  The truth is that they support each other and interface with each other, somewhat like the Star wars characters CP30 and R2D2.

In 7th and 8th grades that friendship resulted in the older one parking the younger one with our youngest daughter for a school dance, rather than dumping his best pal to be with our older daughter. And the rest is history—good history for our family.

The quicker your kids learn to recognize these types of “JERKS,” the better it will be for your kids.  For starters it will teach them not to become one.  Once you’re able to spot them, you can isolate yourself from their negative force field that they inhabit and steer clear of them when possible. You become inoculated to the venom of their bites and stings.  However avoiding them is not always possible.    

Older daughter and SIL are both very adroit people readers and SIL is also very kind about side stepping these situations with humor.  Sometimes it blows up though. Like, while being drilled by a high school councilor about class selections, realizing that this person was trying to play a mind game on him and was highly inferior to his future brother in law intellect wise, he decided to play a mind game by politely saying with a straight face, “Thank you for your concern and suggestions, however, Butch and I specialize in handling different areas of our lives, He lets me select wives, while he specializes in making career choices and selecting classes for us. Would you like for me to schedule an appointment for you to discuss this with him?” Neither part of that statement was exactly correct, nor did it play well with the school office.  You might say that “the poop hit the fan.”  And yea it necessitated a parent conference, but who cared?

I think part of what caused the statement is that the son of the councilor was one of the jocks (read that JERKS) who had tortured Butch for years during elementary and middle school and older SIL saw that same distain coming from his father and resented it. Kind of like, go pick on somebody your own size.

This happened at the time Butch’s councilor and the girls’ councilor were being rather non-cooperative and dismissive with what they all wanted to do, which was to take lots of community college classes with duel credit at both the college and the high school.  They were all less than impressed with the plans of “our aspie” and were playing the old “who shot Willie game,” never intending to cooperate.   

Some idiot in that office leaked a lot of private info that circulated around the halls including the comment of oldest SIL; all of which was supposedly covered by confidentiality. The first inkling was when other students started asking if it was really true that they were secretly married?  The kids thought it was a hoot and really didn’t care that much. And the SILs kindness extended to asking that nothing be done to inflict pain on the school staff for a breach of good sense.  Ultimately, I think that leak and his kindness worked to all their advantage. 

A few weeks ago, while driving I heard part of an interview with Ron Reagan the youngest son of Ronald and Nancy, who describes himself as a man of the left.  He said his father said, “A gentleman always does the kind thing.”   Not bad advice.

That’s when Butch’s dad had a couple of junior associates at his law firm prepare a brief of what school policy and state code allowed students to do and requested a meeting with the school folks and all six parents. He just left them a few copies of the brief without flexing any legal muscle and expressed that what the parents and students were requesting was well within the guidelines.  To the schools credit, they allowed things to proceed with reasonable grade requirements.   

My point is that in life you run into the same types of people over and over again.  Most people are good people, most are nice, and a few, but far too many, are JERKS.  And yes they can make life painful and uncomfortable. So learn to deal with them early. Doing so will save your daughters from lots of pain and give your daughter’s a leg up in life.  And always do the kind thing when possible.  I have never watched the Ellen show but I’ve seen the ending several times; her last words are something like “be kind to one another out there.”  Not bad advice.

Also, time has a way of putting things in proper perspective. Lincoln had a lifetime of sorrow and failures, and died without having any confirmation of how great he was.  Vincent Van go only sold one painting during his life.  Wish I had bought more than just that one, but who knew?  Yes, the kids think I am that old.  LOL  

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Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 09-15-2012 - 8:37pm

Queen Bees and Wannabees is an EXCELLENT book, and deals with a lot more than just Queen Bees.  It really helps kids to learn how to stand up for themselves and not be pressured in ANY situation -- alcohol, drugs and dating are an example.

As for the " popular" kids, I don't know about other areas, but here in northern Illinois, the text-book "popular" kids tend to be heavily into alcohol, pot and EARLY sex--even in Jr Hi.  My kids were not, and so being in the "in crowd" didn't interest them in the least.  They were picked on in Jr Hi--being ADD and redheads didn't help--but they learned to let it roll off their backs.  As others said, there are a lot of different "groups" in HS, and unless your kids are total loners, they will find other friends based on interests--and on things they do well.  My kids were bandos too, and fit in well with that crowd.  My older dd was an especially good musician and an artist as well, and she had a lot of friends based on that.  The kids that hung around our house with older dd spanned several years in age, so younger dd had a ready-made set of friends when she entered HS.  It helped that her sister was a Sr when younger dd was a Freshman.  Both kids also got involved in service extracurriculars, and made goood friends there, and on the job, when they started working, since most of the jobs teens get are ALL teens from the same area.  

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Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 09-15-2012 - 7:43pm
ashmama wrote:

Have your kids read "Queen Bees and Wannabes." It will give them a lot of insight into the dynamics of teen social groups. (There's another version, too, called "Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads" about similar adult behavior.) Both ring true for me.

Seriously, there are adults who act like this?  Is it in relation to their kids & making them popular?  I just couldn't imagine that.  I just want my kids to have some friends so they can be happy.  I would never make it a goal that they be popular.

FWIW, the so-called popular kids aren't really so popular. What they are is socially dominant, so many kids who aren't in that group want to be in, but those on the inside really aren't very happy. They tend to jockey for position and have to observe a very strict, though often unspoken, code of behavior just to stay "in." Their freedom to choose so-called outcast kids as friends is limited, and their own wishes and desires are subjugated to those of the group. Who in their right mind would want that for their child?

I know from friends whose kids have been in the "in" group that they often don't like one another very much. There's a lot of backstabbing and gossip, and no one ever feels safe. Personally, I think friend groups should be safety groups!

I think this is pretty insighful.  The movie Mean Girls really had it right when they had all those scenes about wearing the right clothes and talking to the right boys--and how the girls in that small clique still talked about each other behind their backs & manipulated each other.  I'd say that my DD was kind of popular but she was the kind of kid who was active in different things, so maybe that's why she was "known" as you say--she was on the track team, social committee, very good student and she had the kind of personality where she spoke up in class, so teachers would know her too.  (My son is totally opposite.)   Well there was a 9th grade incident where she & a very close friend had an argument, basically because both of them had a similar kind of bossy personality and somehow all the friends too sides against my DD--that summer was so miserable for her.  She was the kind of person (and still is) who really likes being w/ friends and doing things all the time and doesn't like staying home & entertaining herself and then she went from doing that all the time to almost being friendless and not included in anything--luckily she had maybe 2 friends that weren't in this group who didn't drop her.  Ironically one of the girls she had this "fight" with went to her college, also majored in nursing and they are still friends now--all the others have gone by the wayside anyway since most of the time she is with the college friends and doesn't have much to do with high school friends any more.

 

 

 

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Registered: 02-14-2000
In reply to:
Sat, 09-15-2012 - 10:17am
I only have boys and they are well beyond the high school years. But I do think popularity matters to some people. It did when I was a teen 35+ years ago and I think it still does. That being said - I don't think not being 'popular' means that kids can't still have a great high school experience. I think the important thing is being involved. I was a bando/nerd and had a great group of bando/nerd friends and absolutely loved high school. Same with my older ds. Younger ds started out involved in several things but quit them all over the years. He had 2-3 good friends and didn't 'hate' high school but really didn't have that great of an experience. Looking back - I wish I would have insisted that he participated in at least one thing those last years. And the thing that I've found is once you get past all the high school 'cliques' we're all pretty much alike. I've reconnected with lots of classmates on Facebook and even the ones that were 'popular' back then have their joys and struggles, triumphs and heartaches just like those of us that weren't popular. I've probably talked to some people more on Facebook in the last year than I did in four years of high school!
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