Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin DadspIn brief

12th May 2006 at 01:00
Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads

By Rosalind Wiseman

Piatkus pound;9.99

This American title will be a welcome staffroom resource, as long as readers are comfortable with the idiom: "moms", "blow off" (meaning dismiss, I think), "kids", "jocks" and so on. It is a sequel to Rosalind Wiseman's Queen Bees and Wannabes (published in the UK in 2002) which inspired the film Mean Girls, and which categorised the types of teenage girl Wiseman has encountered in schools and elsewhere.

This time, she scrutinises the grown-ups, and finds the types are the same, just older; adulthood also has its cliques and peer pressure. Following the code of her earlier Girl World, Wiseman gives the rules of Perfect Parent World. Gossip prevails here too, with "moms dishing the dirt" just as their teenage daughters might. Parents measure themselves against a fictional "perfect parent", posturing and positioning and negotiating with various power-bases, including teachers and heads, under the pretence that it is for their child's benefit, when really it is to satisfy their own needs.

In times of crisis, the author claims, parents assume their teenage roles, from Queen Bee Mom or Kingpin Dad to Sidekick, Wannabe, Floater and Outcast. She provides excellent practical advice on handling the conflicts and challenges that result. Helpful "landmine" inserts in the text direct parents away from potentially disastrous intervention in their child's life; "the most important decision", Wiseman argues, is whether to get involved at all.

I suspect all parents will recognise themselves somewhere in the honest and perceptive scenarios and dilemmas here, to the benefit of their teenage offspring.

Brenda Despontin is president of the Girls' Schools Association and headmistress of Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls

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