Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, And the New Realities of Girl World by Rosalind Wiseman.
My first impression of Queen Bees and Wannabes is that it's "the" missing parenting manual for teen girls. What's great about the book that is that Wiseman begins with the foundation of what makes girls act like girls at the early ages of five and up. She connects how and why girls, raised in the context of their families seek out relationships with other girls as they get older, how these relationships turn into cliques that either adhere to our society and culture's vision of what a woman should be and not be or don't.
By the time girls are in the teen years, the idea of what a woman and thus a teen growing toward womanhood should be is so strong that it drives how girls behave. Wiseman, through thousands of hours as an educator of children, teens, parenting, social justice and ethical leadership, gives readers a true inside look at "girl world". She includes hundreds of quotes from girls that have participated in her courses and workshops to back up what she is saying. Wiseman also compassionately provides a few chapters on "boy world" and how boys view and interact with teen girls. Even if you have years and years of experience with young people and teens, you will learn much from this book.
One idea that Wiseman presents right at the beginning of her book is that life as a teen today IS different than it was ten years ago. She lays the foundation for how technology in the form of cell phones, e-mail, social networking and electronic gaming has changed the rules for how young people interact with other humans. This is crucial for today's parents to understand when making decisions for and with their children. Additionally, Wiseman validates the good parenting that so many of us have been slogging through and cheers us into continuing. Wiseman is all about how to send the values a child's family has already established out into the world through the guided choices a teen girl makes. It's tough work but Wiseman provides strong tools. After reading Queenbees, I feel good about what my family has done and empowered to carry on into what so many consider "the difficult years" of teens.
Although this is not a book to leave around for younger kids to pick up and read, there are some sections I will be prepared to allow my children to read when they are ready so that we can talk about how to deal with maintaining their dignity and the dignity of others in the wide array of experiences they will encounter in their lives before leaving home.
I could write on and on about how necessary this book is. However, I realize that when someone such as myself blabs too much about a book, a movie or anything that is a "must see" it can be a turn off. I will be purchasing multiple copies of the book and giving it as gifts to family and friends because I believe that the information provided in this book can be life changing and even life saving. Wouldn't it be great if a generation of us and then our children joined Wiseman in her quest to "create cultures of dignity?"
For those interested in learning more about Wiseman's work and connecting a teen to her continuous advice on her blog and social networking sites, please see: http://www.rosalindwiseman.com/ . Wiseman's latest book is a YA Novel, Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials (2010) Putnam Publishers. You can be sure that I'll be checking this one out too!
Wiseman, R. (2009). Queenbees & Wannabes:Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, And The New Realities of Girl World. New York: Crown Publishing.