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Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads Coping with the Parents, Teachers, Coaches, and Counselors Who Can Rule -- or Ruin --Your Child's Life
by Rosalind Wiseman, Elizabeth Rapoport
Hardcover: Mar 2006,
Paperback: Feb 2007,
While there are parents who eagerly attend Back-to-School
Night, most parents admitted to having some degree of
anxiety about it. What's behind this discomfort? You've
probably already intuited part of the answer: You feel like
you're back in middle school. It's clear who's at the top of
the social ladder, who's not, and who's waiting to climb up
from the lower rungs. You probably have one of two reactions
to the scene: You want to be part of it, you hope highly
placed, or you want to have nothing to do with it.
Everyone wants to belong somewhere. There's nothing weak or
pathological about it--it's a universal drive. It's just
that our true character (individually and collectively) is
revealed in the moments when that belonging comes at the
cost of what we believe in and what we know is right,
whether we're thirteen, thirty-three, fifty-three, or
seventy-three. To my mind, becoming an adult is the process
of understanding and holding on to our sense of self in the
face of this drive, because belonging often comes at the
cost of the values we stand for.
What groups do we want to belong to? Do those groups accept
us? Why or why not? How do we decide where we want to
belong? How do boys and girls, men and women attain and
maintain respect in their community and in our culture? In
turn, how is a social pecking order established through this
Writing this book has made me realize that there are many
adults who feel just as trapped by the groups they are in,
if not more so, than the teens with whom I work. Most
parents become friends with other parents beginning in their
children's play groups and then continue on through their
car pools, athletic teams, and religious youth groups. To be
sure, many people develop lifelong friends with people
they've met through their children. But there are a lot of
parents who are wondering how they became friends with these
people and who can't wait for their kids to graduate so they
and the other parents can quietly go their separate ways.
Why? We chose to be with them on the assumption that we have
similar values and because we've gone through similar
experiences or rites of passage. But as we pass through
parenting's rites of passage, it's easy to confuse partners
in arms in a given situation or phase with people with whom
we truly want to go through life and can depend on.
How do we know what we're looking for in each other? Let's
start by looking at two definitions of culture: the one in
Webster's dictionary and my own.
Webster's definition: The customary beliefs, social forms,
and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.
My definition: Everything we "know" about the way the world
works but have never been taught.
Our culture makes us feel that we have to be and look a
certain way so that we belong--regardless of whether we are
poor, wealthy, or anywhere in between. It convinces us that
we are "less than" unless we participate in the relentless
struggle to keep up with or have more than our neighbors.
But our culture is not a thing that happens to us. We are
the ones who create and sustain it. If cultural values are
handed down through generations, it's because we absorb them
and act on them without question. Often we don't even
realize the degree to which we're constantly pressuring each
other to conform to cultural norms. Primed by these powerful
cultural messages--in magazines, on television, in movies,
in supermarket conversations, from our own parents--we can
trick ourselves into believing that there's just one party
to go to, one group to belong to, and that if we don't get
in and stay in, we don't measure up or risk being thrown
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