Is it the child that wants to be popular, or is it the parent?

Is it the child that wants to be popular, or is it the parent?

After a long discussion with a group of parents regarding our middle school children, I came to a realization.  The kids don't seem to be as concerned with their popularity as much as their parents do.  I also hate to admit that it seems to be a "mom" thing, not necessarily a "dad" thing.

We were talking specifically about 6th graders.  They were all so worried that their children were so advanced, and couldn't seem to figure out why.  I sat in amazement and silence as I heard these quotes, "the texting goes on at all hours of the night - I can't take it", "my daughter goes to these parties and is obsessed with the boys", "they went to the movies as couples, but I was there to drop them off and pick them up, so I know nothing happened".

Hmmm, you wonder why they're so fast.  I finally spoke up.  "You really wonder why your kids are so advanced - Really?  Why are you hosting boy/girl parties? (the first response was that they're friends)  The boys and girls aren't friends in 6th grade.  And if they are, foster the friendships in school. They don't need to be friends at bon fires at night, barely supervised together.  You're just encouraging them to push each other into experiencing more than they're ready for."

Dates to the movies - dropping them off?  What?  They're 11 years old.  You're crazed about the texting?  Why do they have a phone?  They're 11.  Have you all lost your mind?  Why do WE keep pushing them into things earlier and earlier.

After my 5 minute rant, I was met with silence.  Then defense.  They all looked at me like I belonged back in the 50s.

Shortly after, we all kind of dispersed - I really know how to liven up a party.  But that's when something funny happened.  I was approached by three different women separately.  They all had very similar comments.  They wanted me to know that they completely agreed with me and my desire to keep my daughter innocent as long as possible.  They all thought the boy/girl parties were too much, and that they knew kissing (at the very least) was happening at these get togethers.

So why the silence?  Why the lack of support?  It came down to one reason.  They were afraid if they agreed, their child wouldn't be invited to the "in" parties anymore.  They were afraid to go against the women that organize all these bashes and outings for fear of ostracizing their child.

That's our society in a nutshell.  If the parents are afraid to speak up for what they believe in, and what they know is right, then how on earth can we expect our children to?

I know I didn't make my child any more popular that night.  I'm OK with paying for her therapy bills later, because I know I did the right thing, and I know I'm raising a strong daughter that isn't going to compromise her values just to be accepted.

Filed under: life and style, parenting


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  • I, too, am ready to foot the bill for my kids' therapy. I am not my child's friend, I am their parent. Great post! It's sad that the other parents could not stand up and voice their opinion. Good for you!

  • In reply to erago:

    I think it's sad too - I can't decide if those cowardly parents were popular in school by going along with the crowd, or the opposite - left out of the "in" crowd. Regardless, I look back now (loving facebook) at those popular high school kids and many of them really never graduated.

  • I agree great post. I had a conversation just this past Saturday with 2 other moms about our 5th graders putting on make-up when not at school and mostly for playdates with girls their on age. One mom said that to let your daughter wear make-up signified their lost innocence. It felt like she was saying our girls would soon be standing on street corners selling their bodies for a drug habit they learned from their pimp. I mean come on, our girls hang only with other girls because that's who they want to be friends with. And we usually have to cart them to playdates because their friends don't live down the street. I think they're just play acting at what it feels like to be adults and I rather they play at it with a bit of supervision and input from us moms.

  • In reply to Lubp:

    I actually think no matter what your stance - speak up. I appreciate and respect parents for standing by what they believe much more than ducking and running.
    Something you mention really makes a difference - supervision. I found many of the parents I was writing about were very naive and believed that it was all innocent play.
    Thanks for the feedback.

  • Interesting! I will say that when I was a kid I went on "dates" with boys at the movies starting in 6th grade did all that stuff, but I didn't turn out worse for the wear. I'm still a dork.

    That doesn't mean I'm going to encourage my two girls to slut it up (they're babies now) but I'm not a "bad mom" for giving them independence like I had it. Obviously no boys will sleep over and such but movies and texting will probably occur. You can't let the gate spring open when they're 18 or you'll have a REAL mess when they go to college. Isn't independence that is slowly earned easier to respect? Just giving the other side.

  • I welcome the other side. I actually received quite a bit of backlash from the parents that thought I was talking about them. I thought it was great. Finally some REAL discussion instead of worrying about hurting someone's feelings.
    I don't think it's being a bad mom to foster independence, I just think there's a lot of time -- why rush things? I have a 15 year old, and she has a phone, unlimited texting, is driven places by other teens, even had a very short-lived boyfriend. I just think the sooner they start things, the sooner they're asking, "What's next". I look at her friends now that had much greater freedom when they were sixth graders and a lot of them really went downhill. They're always looking for the next, more advanced thing instead of enjoying the age they're at now. They're always trying to be older - some of that comes with the territory of teens, but if it all happens a little more gradual, they value the freedom instead of abuse it.
    That's at least what I learned so far. I'll write you in another 10 years to let you know if it worked.

  • We are parents of a 10 year old boy. I have to say the parent's are definitely the catalyst to popularity in our school. I see it more with the girls then boys at this age but the need to be in the "In" group is centered entirely on the parents. I have taken he opposite approach and have been labeled a loaner and often B word because I refuse to play the game. My child has been encouraged to be friends with everyone and exclusion is not tolerated in our home. I have witnessed exclusion at it's finest since kindergarten and have started to believe the finest way to drive the point home about what a snit some of these kids are to others outside their group is to place the parents in a room and have them feel the isolation of what their children are doing to others. Never going to happen, but I would line up for a ticket to that workshop if it did. You should never compromise your child's innocence for popularity. Exceptional Article!

  • In reply to LCC-Catie D:

    Isn't it funny that in every school there's an "in" crowd among the parents as well?
    I'd like a ticket to that workshop too. I also can name a few candidates I'd like to include in that room.

  • I have a great kid, that's because I talked to her and with her all throughout her childhood. I instilled in her a sense of confidence by telling her what a capable and hard worker she is. I always told her how lucky she was to be pretty without makeup. She's just a regular looking kid, but at 17 she's not torn up over some other girl's looks, her own looks, or what some boy thinks. She realizes that life is both preparation and the roll of the die. I especially did not want a "dumb" daughter who was only capable of communicating with her makeup and mirror, and the negative vibes of others. Too bad many of these mothers push or allow their daughters to become the messes that they witness over and over again from Hollywood via the big and small screen.

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