What we all want is for our kids to grow into well-adjusted, socially responsible, happy adults. “That really gets to the health of our communities,” says educator Rosalind Wiseman, also author of “Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and the New Realities of Girl World”, the inspiration for Tina Fey’s hit movie, “Mean Girls,” a piece of pop culture. “When I agreed to sell the rights…it never occurred to me it would become this enormous success.” Now, this mother of two sons has also written a companion book about boys and will bring her valued tips to the Mandell JCC’s parenting conference in West Hartford on Thursday, Jan. 30.
“I feel like we are missing what’s going on with boys and how to reach them and have conversations with them,” Wiseman says, noting the consequences of this can be severe, sometimes resulting in extreme situations, such as school shootings, violence against women or drug and alcohol abuse. “These boys don’t know what to do and they are terrified and they don’t know how to ask for help because so much in this culture, we still believe that if a boy asks for help, that he’s weak.” She worked with 200 young men while writing “Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends and the New Rules of Boy World,” gaining their perspective. Wiseman believes a male role-model can provide a boy with affirmation, support and understanding during emotional times, such as coping with heart break. This Colorado mom (www.rosalindwiseman.com) also thinks parents should resist the urge to pepper our sons with questions after school: “The boys shut down, they need to be able to relax and then come to you later with what’s going on in their lives.”
Wiseman advises us to practice what we preach: “Adults have to be honest about the things that they don’t do, that they are demanding young people to do.” We might tell our kids to report bullies, but when was the last time we spoke-up about an injustice at work? “I think young people can really deal with complexity,” she says, noting that we can explain how we grew after handling a situation incorrectly. “I think it’s really important for young people to see the messiness of life and how we struggle and how we learn from our mistakes and that we are self-reflective enough to be able to own it and then to be able to change our behavior.”
At the conference, Wiseman will provide suggestions about how to talk to kids during complicated dynamics. She hopes parents stop comparing genders: “When we say boys are easy and they don’t have any drama, what…we are saying to boys, without meaning to…is, ‘Do not come to us with any problems.’” Will we always know the answers to help our kids navigate the social scene? No. But good communication goes a long way.
For ticket information, log onto http://www.mandelljcc.org. To hear more from Rosalind Wiseman, watch Monday’s Fox CT Morning News.
>>To contribute your own adventures in motherhood, or to read more from Fox CT reporter Sarah Cody and freelancer Teresa Pelham, go to http://www.ctnow.com/mommyminute.