Is Your Daughter a Queen Bee?
By Julie Baumgardner
One day, out of the blue, a teenager decides she no longer wants a particular girl in “her” group of friends. The young lady arrives at school and is informed that she is no longer a part of “the group.” They make fun of her “big butt” telling her, “a small television could sit on top of that thing.” The young lady is hurt, embarrassed and confused. She never tells her parents what happened and makes excuses for why she doesn’t get asked to sleepovers or on outings with these girls anymore. It is a time she will never forget.
So goes the life of an adolescent girl. Few parents escape experiencing the pain and anxiety situations like this one create. Parenting your teenager can definitely keep you on your toes. Many parents testify to the fact that something happens to girls around eleven years of age. Things that neither the parent nor the child fully understand. Some parents believe aliens invade their daughter’s body! When it comes to dealing with the craziness of their relationships, it is hard to know the right thing to do. You want to protect your child from the hurt, yet you know this is a rite of passage as girls move into adolescence on their way to young adulthood.
“Every girl I know has been hurt by her girlfriends,” said Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes and co-founder of the Empower Program. “One day your daughter comes to school and her friends suddenly decide she no longer belongs. Or she is teased mercilessly for wearing the wrong outfit or having the wrong friend. Your daughter’s friendships with other girls are a double-edged sword – they’re key to surviving adolescence, yet they can be the biggest threat to her survival as well. The friendships with the girls in her clique are a template for many relationships she’ll have as an adult.”
According to Ms. Wiseman, in trying to prepare girls for adolescence, adults are failing. Parents refuse to see what is really going on in the lives of their daughters. They trivialize and dismiss these experiences as “teen drama.” Adolescence is truly a time when social hierarchies are powerfully and painfully reinforced every moment of every day. As they are jockeying for position, girls fall into several different categories from Queen Bees to Wannabes.
In case you are wondering if your daughter is a “queen bee” or a “wannabe” Ms. Wiseman gives these descriptors of each.
Your daughter is a queen bee if… her friends do what she wants to do; she isn’t intimidated by any other girl in her class; her complaints about other girls are limited to the lame things they did or said; when she’s young, you have to convince her to invite everyone to her birthday party. When she does invite everyone you want, she ignores and excludes some of her guests; she can persuade her peers to do just about anything she wants; she can argue anyone down, including friends, peers, teachers and parents; if she has been wronged she feels she has the right to seek revenge. She has an eye-for-an-eye worldview.
Your daughter is a wannabe if…other girls’ opinions and wants are more important than her own; her opinions on dress, style, friends, and “in” celebrities constantly change; she can’t tell the difference between what she wants and what the group wants; she’s desperate to have the “right” look; she’ll stop doing things she likes because she fears the clique’s disapproval; she’s always in the middle of a conflict; she loves gossip.
While these are the two extremes, there are many roles girls can take on in between the Queen Bee and the Wannabe. Few girls will get through school unaffected by this phenomenon. It may be tempting for parents to put their head in the sand and ignore all the “drama,” but your daughters need you to be actively engaged in their lives. Your home can be a safe refuge for them to process all the craziness. Don’t underestimate the significance of your willingness to listen and assistance in problem-solving, words of encouragement, clear expectations, respect, and most of all, your understanding that sometimes none of their or their friend’s behavior makes sense. You are helping your daughter learn to navigate relationships. The skills she learns now will hopefully serve her well in the future. The good news is, parents who have survived this phase of life say it does get better over time. Stay strong for your daughter’s sake!
Julie Baumgardner is the Executive Director of First Things First, an organization dedicated to strengthening marriages and families through education, collaboration and mobilization. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.