3/16/2006

Are you a Queen Bee?

I was reading Parenting Magazine the other day (one of my many highly tuned avoidance strategies I utilize these days as we prepare for a move. Have I mentioned I hate moving?). There was an interesting article from the book “Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads” about what kinds of mothers there are, written by the woman who wrote the book that the movie "Mean Girls" is based on. I'd find the link to the article if I wasn't so tired right now, but basically the gist was that all moms fall into certain categories. And, sadly, none of them sounded particularly appealing. Also, I don't think it really described the moms I know. First, there's the "Queen Bee" moms, moms who run everything, who are the neighborhood gossips, and who only let other moms be in charge of stuff when she gives her permission to do so. Also, her neighborhood gossip isn't really gossip in her mind, because she is only telling people about other moms to say, "Poor thing", or "How can we help such a hopeless cause?" Ok, so I actually DO know a mom like this in our neighborhood, but truly, she is the only person I know who fits such a nasty description. There’s the “Sidekick” moms, women who suck up to the Queen Bees, “Starbucks and Sympathy” moms, women who will sympathize with you, give you comfort, and then turn on you, spreading malicious gossip that they can use to their own advantage. Then there were the "Wannabes", and the "Desperate Wannabees", women who follow the Queen Bee around like drones, and gossip as well. They are the ones who get permission from the Queen Bee to plan the Boy Scout box car derby, and try to do it to perfection, just so they can outshine other moms, and even, possibly (dare to dream!) the Queen Bee herself. They are social climbers who climb the ladders by using their children's activities. Again, what a nasty description of a mother. There are the "Invisible" and "Outcast" moms, moms who do nothing for their child and rarely stick up for them, just because they don't want to rock the boat or face confrontation. They'll let their child bear the brunt of all kinds of injustices because they are too busy shrinking into the background, or they don’t fit in because their kids don’t go to the "right" school, the "right" church, etc. "Floater" moms are the ones that are genuinely nice, can flow between groups, and are popular because they are genuinely likable. Wow, they actually exist? And finally, there are the "Reformed Moms", who are mostly made up of former Wannabes and Queen Bees, who realize that this kind of social grouping and cliquishness should've been over in high school. These and the Floater moms are the kinds of moms you want to get to know. Give me a break. What about just plain old nice moms who are trying to do what's best for their kids? What about just plain old involved parents who want to be a part of the community? It was a ridiculous analysis of motherhood, and it makes me want to write Parenting a letter and tell them I think they missed the boat. I think some mothers can be cliquish, of course, but I find that for the most part, when we find some common interest with our children, or we have kids the same age, it's easy to be friends with other moms. Ok, sometimes I think other moms are a little psycho, or I don't like what they feed their kids, or I think they don't discipline their child when he hits or pulls my little angel's hair, but on the whole, I think moms mostly try to get along with other moms. This article suggested that we haven't left behind some of those high school social tendencies that tortured us as teenagers. I disagree. I would hope that most women who are raising children are beyond that. Other thoughts about social interaction with neighborhood moms? Maybe the mom who wrote teh article just still can't get over losing the votes for Prom Queen.

26 Comments:

Blogger Cheryl said...

Hmmm...I haven't got that issue yet. Where is my issue??? :)

Anyways...
I worked in a large dental office when I was in HS for 2 years. The "back" girls (rovers and assistants) and the "front" girls (receptionists) couldn't get along. AT ALL. There was gossip, back stabbing, lies, rumors, and it was really, really sad. I remember asking my mother how it was possible that women that "old" could act like the girls in my high school. "Don't we grow out of it?" My mom answered and said "Sadly, sometimes it gets worse."

I agree with you that most women are not so easily divisive or can be divided into groups so easily, but it is sad that there are women like that. Petty, petty women who live vicariously through their children and only care about "keeping up with the jones's"

Since that experience, I really have tried my best not to be that way --and just do what you said: Be a mom who is trying to do what's best for my kids.

3/16/2006 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Yikes! What a horrid way to stereotype moms- and inaccurate to boot, as far as my experience goes.

There are always people who fit a stereotype- that's why they exist. But what a small, bleak picture to paint of women. I don't know anyone who fits into any of the boxes discribed. Most of the moms I know are nice people, struggling with most of the same things I do- and I can almost always find things to relate to on some level with another mom.

As a convert, I have noticed that women in the Church are actually MORE careful not to gossip or talk behind another's back- and it is really nice. Sure, there are personality conflicts at times, but that's just life- not just moms.

If my life were in better order right now (ha ha ha!) I would be inclined to add my letter to the magazine, too.

3/16/2006 01:12:00 AM  
Blogger Bek said...

As I was reading that, I saw a little bit of each of those moms in myself. Don't we all have a little bit of them in us? I don't know many that are 100% the stereotype.

We all probably think we are the "floaters" or "reformed" ones.

3/16/2006 02:57:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Bek-

Sure we all think we are reformed or floaters. According to the article, those are the only kinds of moms that are worth liking!

3/16/2006 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger nestle said...

I guess we're just a bunch of mindless gossips. ;-)

3/16/2006 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Sue said...

I have to say, that all seems so old and false to me. I don't see any of that in the relationships women in my neighborhood have. Maybe we are just extra cool :>, but everyone is sincerely nice and trying their best to be Christlike. I mean, we're human and all, but we're not childish, petty, back-stabbing and jealous. People DO grow up. What a bleak outlook that lady has.

3/16/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

I have never seen any of that kind of behavior in any of the neighborhoods I've lived in. (Not that I've lived in that many, but still...)

I've seen that behavior in movies, but never in real life. Come to think of it, all the movies about high school or college never reflected my experience there, either.

Hmmm....maybe there's a market for accurate movies, but probably not, because they'd be so boring. No Wisteria Lane antics or "Mean Girls" around. Just sharing burdens, chatting about vacations, swapping kid stories, neighborhood Christmas parties, and going to Costco together.

3/16/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Oh, and Heather, eventually you're going to have to face the move. All the avoidance tactics aren't going to change that.:)

3/16/2006 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie J said...

I hate labeling and sterotyping. I think it's true that we are all trying to do the best we can living and raising our children. Obviously there are some women out there only to compete, but to make such a big deal out of the exceptions seems like a waste of time to me.

3/16/2006 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Tigersue said...

I really try to be the best I can for my children. I know I don't have many friends that I call or do anything with. I have seen huge cliques in church, but that doesn't mean that they aren't nice women. Quite to the contrary they are wonderful women, but for someone like me it is hard to be proactive and say, Hey I would like to be included or thought of to do somethings that they do. I mean even looking for carpools became so draining because everyone already was carpooling with someone else, and we weren't thought of at all. It can be very lonely to sit on the outside and not know what to do.

3/16/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Rosalynde said...

Hmm, well, I guess I have a somewhat different perspective. I often hear women bemoaning the fact that women and girls aren't allowed or encouraged to be as competitive as men and boys are----but then when we see evidence of women's competitiveness (which, in my mind, is undeniable) we get really nervous about it.

Look, men compete with each other for resources in order to attract mates, while women compete with each other for resources to invest in their children. Different evolutionary reproductive strategies, but both highly competitive. In nearly all primates, a mother's social rank and the resources she's able to garner on behalf of her offspring significantly affect their survival and, eventually, their own successful reproduction.

I say we don't get too worked up about queen bees, but rather interpret their behavior for what it is---a reasonable reproductive strategy, though perhaps misdirected or distorted.

3/17/2006 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got through with a two-year stint having a Queen Bee as a neighbor, and while she had not outgrown the manipulative behavior of high school, the rest of the women in the ward had. Most grown-ups don't fit these stereotypes, but a few do. Even though we tried not to be pawns in her manipulations, we couldn't avoid it because we were too nice to shun her. We kept trying to be kind.

Rosalynde, it's too bad that you think this is a reasonable parenting strategy. Let me compare the parenting of this queen bee with that of another woman, Susan. Susan teaches her children to look out for others; she shows them by example that when you sense someone is insecure, or troubled, or struggling, you step in and be a friend. On the first day of school Susan's son (a 3rd grader) sees a Kindergartener he knows looking lost. He puts his arm around the Kindergartener and shows him around before school starts, because he has been taught this by his mom. By contrast, the Queen Bee teaches her children that there are ok people and then there are better people, and that they can't possibly be friends with all the kids who are beating down their door, so they have to choose carefully only the "best" friends. This early fixation on ranking people leads to deep insecurities and competitions, such that the Queen Bee's daughter, while riding her bike, is overheard saying "I'll bet I'm the best 4-year-old bike rider ever!" Then, when she discovers that a friend is also 4 and a bike rider, she approaches the friend's mom and asks her to deliver the message that the friend didn't really learn to ride a bike before she did.

Both stories are true. Who do you want as a friend? The woman who believes that other people are generally friends you should be kind to, or the woman who thinks friends are people who should be ranked, compared, and possibly rejected?

3/17/2006 07:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Rosalynde said...

LOL, anonymous! That's quite a compare-and-contrast essay question!

I didn't say women's competitiveness is a reasonable parenting strategy, I said it's (an evolutionary vestige of) a reasonable reproductive strategy---though, it sounds like, often misdirected and distorted. Alas, there are a number of effective reproductive strategies that directly contradict principles of the gospel---so I'm not saying that Queen Bee is necessarily on her way to heaven!

Rest assured, I'd much prefer Susan as my friend (and my mother!)---but at the same time I think I can understand where Queen Bees competitive instincts come from.

3/17/2006 09:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rosalynde, yes, I do get a bit long-winded...If by "reasonable" you mean their ideas have *some* reasoning behind them, then I agree. Interestingly, Queen Bee thought she was perfectly aligned with the gospel with her behavior. "The church teaches that we have to choose our friends wisely," she told our RS, "so I tell my children that this means they can't be friends with everyone." She was duty-bound, you see.

I don't think Queen Bees should be dismissed lightly; they can be incredibly destructive. They don't just secure resources (and status) for their kids, they have to make sure other kids don't succeed. So they not only work to get their children included in things, they make sure other kids get left out.

One favorite trick of our Queen Bee was to offer to give a ride to a group of kids , and then *neglect* (without apology) to pick up one child. Variations on this included: doing this to adults; taking all the YW but one to the store for matching camp costumes; and finding out which 5-year-old girls in the ward were playing soccer and telling them that Brother X, who was coaching, was putting all the girls in the ward on one team, then telling Brother X that the girls from these families all wanted him as their coach and he needed to arrange it with the league, and leaving one girl out. (These were all different kids from different families. Queen Bee liked to keep everyone a little off-balance.)

Did anyone read the article in the Church News about the BYU professor who wrote the paper on pre-school Queen Bees? He looked at kids from predominately Mormon homes and found that 1 in 8 (I think that was the number) showed signs of using manipulating tactics to socially control a group IN PRESCHOOL. These are our kids, folks. My primary has 150 kids, that means we can expect to have nearly 20 Queen Bee types (or maybe nearly 10, if it's 1 in 8 girls). Did anyone else see this?

3/18/2006 12:17:00 AM  
Blogger Deborah said...

The author, Rosalind Wiseman, wrote the book "Queen Bees and Wannabees" -- which describes the social dynamics of middle school girls. Sounds like she is angling to publish a new book for adult women using the same terminology. As a middle school teacher/administrator, I've read it a couple of times, along with the others of the same genre ("Odd Girl Out," "Cliques," "Reviving Ophelia, etc.) This was my least favorite of the bunch. It seemed to take the obvious about social dynamics and spread them "like butter over too much bread." It had the least research behind it, and Wiseman's credentials don't inspire much additional confidence:

"Ms. Wiseman is certified through Harvard University's "Program for Young Negotiators. " She holds an advanced Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Occidental College, Los Angeles, California, and a second degree black belt in Tang Soo Do Karate."

My major beef with the book is that it 1) didn't articulate the pyschology _behind_ these convenient labels (beyond pop psychology) 2) it didn't recognize the other "obvious" -- that many girls are _not_ stuck in a social role, but rather change considerably over the course of adolescence, trying on multiple hats, identities, and interests.

While the book may offer a useful perspective on the overall social dynamics that can affect our teenage girls, I would be remiss to view my students in terms of the "role" they fill. They are beautiful, complex beings -- and if even if one does adopt a "typical" social persona, she does not necessarily do so for a "typical" reason. These labels are lazy.

3/18/2006 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I read the article about the BYU research --and since my #1 is in the BYU preschool, I've had my fair share to observe behavior (behind those "mirrored" walls).

Unfortunately, some of it IS true.

Watching my daughter --my kind-hearted, always wanting to help --daughter being snubbed in such a terrible way by fellow 4 year olds was the most heartbreaking thing I ever saw. And one of the girls that did the snubbing was exactly as anonymous described --a manipulater in Preschool. Teachers described to me what this particular child would do at recess, and I was floored to learn that my child was one of the girls being manipulated. She would come home and ask why her "friend" would treat her a certain way. Not wanting her to be a victim, I would try to arm her with ways in which she could tell her "friend" NO(kindly)--and after a few days of that, the infamous snubbing occurred.

Sad, but true. But children tend to be what their parents teach them.

3/18/2006 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger mindy said...

Huh, that is bizarre! I actually have read "Queen Bees and Wannabes" which is her book about adolescent girls, and I thought that was quite accurate with what I experienced and have seen. I said to my husband after reading your post that it seemed silly to me, as I'd hope that most adults (esp. parents) would be beyond such silliness, but he said he didn't think so. He says most adults are just adolescents in older bodies. So, I dunno. I tend to think that people are basically like me, and I don't feel that raging insecurity that I felt as an adolescent. But I'm also not in any "mom-cliques" so what do I know?

3/19/2006 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

For the most part, I think most of the women I know have moved past the middle-school cliquish, competitive behavior. I don't think too many moms fit those stereotypes. But...

...I do know at least one woman from our playgroup who is a pretty obvious "queen bee." Very competitive, very materialistic, gossipy, outwardly sweet while saying/doing things that have made grown women I know go home and cry later. Like casually suggesting the name of a cleaning service when visiting someone's house, trashing the magnet school they send their child to and pretending to be surprised their child goes there, or emailing everyone that playgroup has been moved to Chuck-E-Cheese -- without talking to the mom hosting first, who has already cleaned her house from top to bottom and purchased snacks in preparation.

Some other members of the group have asked me at one time or another why this woman seems to hate them. I don't think she does, but she is really unpleasant. And I'd rather think of her as insecure rather than truly e-ville.

3/20/2006 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

4 year olds being snubbed, deliberately excluded? Wow, that seems awfully early to me. I mean, yes, there are kids in Jacob's preschool class he doesn't like, but he has his reasons. He didn't want to invite one kid, because, and I quote, "He spits. He might spit in my birthday cake." Seems reasonable to me!

But excluding for other reasons at such a young age is unbelievable to me, and certainly must be coming from the parents.

Are girls worse at this than boys, or is my boy in for the same kind of hurt?

3/20/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allison, I think you are right about the insecurity. Maybe it doesn't apply to all grown women who remain Queen Bees, but I felt strongly impressed that our QB's behavior was motivated by anxiety that was almost compulsive. It does help for people to know they are not the only one who has issues with the QB. We thought that by "setting a good example" (being her friend *and* insisting that everyone be included) we would help her adopt nicer attitudes. Sadly, because she had already intellectually justified her approach, (and probably also because I think she was compulsive about it) she just went underground and became deceptive, so that we wouldn't find out what she had done until it was too late.

Cheryl, I think you were really lucky that the teachers were aware of the situation and took it seriously. Your example just highlights what I find so frustrating about this issue: even when the adults involved are working to prevent the problem, and even when you give great advice to your child, this is almost impossible to stop. I keep hoping that someone will come out with some good ways of neutralizing this behavior.

3/20/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a link: http://byunews.byu.edu/archive05-May-mean.aspx

“A few of the relational aggressive tactics used by preschoolers include: Not allowing a specific child to play with the group. Demanding other children not play with a specific child. Threatening to not play with a child unless certain needs/demands are met. Refusing to listen to someone they are mad at (the aggressive children may even cover their ears)....

As stated in the research, preschoolers are capable of more sophisticated strategies as well, such as spreading malicious rumors or telling secrets.

"It is pertinent and somewhat disturbing to note that by the age of 4 a substantial number of children have apparently figured out from their environment that relational aggressive strategies can be used to their advantage and are rewarded with social status,” said Clyde Robinson, co-author and BYU professor of marriage, family and human development.

3/20/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did Parenting Magazine did a marvelous job on describing some moms. I really believe that a lot of these mothers need to have their heads examined and get a life and some dads too. They are totally trying to live through their kids....pity they didn't get it right the first time...what makes them think they're gonna get it right this time.

A GREAT MOM

4/19/2006 12:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some women are just mean! Best bet is to ignore them. They will go away if you don't feed into their issues. I have seen it happen so many times. These women just have a need for drama and attention. If you don't five it to them, they will go somewhere else to find it.
Brenda

6/29/2007 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a current victim of a mom clique...they are out there and they are MEAN and vicious and are worse than a gang of 13 year old.

For those who are lucky not to ever have to deal with them...I seriously think they look for moms with the word "Doormat" tattooed on their back.

I just had not one but a gang of moms like that who basically inudated my email with nasty emails and actually started to attack my spouse verbally via email and they barely even knew him!

It's definetely a control issue and there are women out there who make the women of Desperate Housewives look like angels....

I'm still smarting from what went from a simple disagreement to a full scale war on me and eventually my family too.

Unfortunately it's a horrible way to sterotype mothers but the sad problem is that they are out there...

I should know...still recovering from dealing with some.

10/27/2007 07:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WAKE UP PEOPLE!

It's true. These stereotypes exist. My daughter is 8 and in 3rd grade and for 3 years has been snubbed by various queen bees in her 3 classes of grade school. I live in a wealthy new cul-de-sac of which I was the last one to move into. When trying to volunteer in my kids' school, two queen bees in my neighborhood deliberately kept me off the list of volunteers. When investigating this with a few of the teachers, they comfirmed this.

3/11/2008 05:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are seeing the problem now please get involved and teach your daughter that she is beautifully talented and gorgeous the way God wants her to be. I am 44 am bullied because of male female energies that won't butt out of my life. This behavior has cost me relationship problems, job losses and the since that companion in the world no longer exists. Don't let your daughter be subject to one little disgusting brat and her followers. Be well.

12/24/2016 11:21:00 AM  

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