Book Club Monday #6


The countdown to Easy on the Eyes continues with week 6 of my online book club, and I can’t be more excited that it will be in book stores next month! We have been discussing topics from Odd Mom Out and Mrs. Perfect—my two books that feature some of the same characters from Easy on the Eyes. I love hearing your opinions and fielding your questions, but here’s the best part: your comment on each book club question enters you to win an Advanced Reading Copy of Easy on the Eyes. Read it before you can buy it! Then you can tell everyone about it.

Last week we discussed Mrs. Perfect. This week let’s talk about a topic from Odd Mom Out:

How much of the popularity wars at school do you think stem from the parents and their point of view? Discuss the impact of social status and material things on children today. Was it the same when you were growing up or have things changed a lot since then?

Feel free to contribute without having read Odd Mom Out, but be warned that the comments that follow may contain spoilers.

For more Odd Mom Out, read an excerpt, download the whole Reader’s Guide, check out some book extras, and order your copy from Amazon!

About TIMING of PRIZES: The winner will be drawn (randomly, of course) shortly after the next book club gets posted. So, sometime next Monday, when I find a sliver of time between sleeping and caring for a itty-bitty baby, I will do the winner thing. If it waits until Tuesday, no one stress, okay? Thanks! And thanks for participating!

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  1. It must be a busy Monday, honestly I didn’t think I would be one of the first posts. And it’s already Book Monday #6, where have I been? I guess I have been real busy.

    Being a Mom of three can be interesting. I think parents can have a lot to do with social interaction between children at school. Especially if the children are present, at the time a parent is stating their opinion. (And negative opinions can create negative energy to be passed on to the child) Then a child goes to school, tells other children I can’t play with Stephanie because my Mom doesn’t like her Mom. Lesson here is to teach our children to try to get along with each other, even though it may be difficult.(try their best to get along, even if they don’t like the other person) and there is no reason to talk about other people unless there is something positive to say.

    I feel it was so much easier when we were kids. It just seemed like everyone got along better and things were more peaceful. The phone didn’t ring that much.
    My teenage daughters having cell phones is convenient but sometimes can be pretty ridicules with all the calls and texting.
    Jane have a relaxing summer with all your boys!

  2. I’m very careful with voicing my “opinions” in the school and around other parents that I don’t know. Any remarks you make can so easily be translated or passed on out of context…

    As for social status, I overheard my 7 year old tell my 4 year old last night that, “Grandma is rich”…I asked him why he said that, and he thought it was because Grandma doesn’t have to work. You try to send them off with the right information, but honestly I don’t know what other parents must think of me, especially after he told friends at school that his mother was growing penises (peonies) in her flower bed! So I guess you just can’t sweat the small stuff…you do the best you can, and the rest you just have to laugh at!

  3. I volunteer at my boys school every Friday. I am in the PTA and I am the yearbook staff as well. All the kids and teachers know me and my children. I do this to be involved with my boys. I won’t be able to do this forever and we are creating memories that a mother and son can create. Dad plays ball with them, wrestles with them etc. Mom (me) is involved in their education-maybe b/c I was a teacher. I’m not popular b/c of my looks or my kids are uber awesome (which they ARE!), but b/c I am visible.
    My boys don’t have cell phones. I think they are the only boys in school who doesn’t. It makes all their friends call our home phone. They are well known, but they are always begging for a cell phone. It isn’t a necessity at their age and I will not give into that material item at this point in their life.
    I lived without a cell phone growing up, they can too-at least for now.

  4. I think part of it is the parents… then part is the kids. I wasn’t popular. My parents pushed our education, but also allowed us to follow our interests and support them. Money was tight, so I didn’t have high brand clothes and knock off canvas shoes (ya know… back when Keds were big.)

    I pretty much thought back then that the difference between me and the popular kids were money and probably they were following in their parents footsteps in a way. Since you noticed younger siblings following in the same activities as their older siblings.

    I think that there will always be some new gadget for kids. Sex and drugs and alcohol has been issues for a long time. So do I think things have change since I was in school?

    Nope. I think just my perception has changed.

    I read an interview from someone that was in the first graduation class from my high school (ten years before me). She described her experiences there. What did I learn?

    My high school hadn’t changed.

  5. I think times have definitely changed and that our kids are experiencing things much earlier than we ever had to. Stuff that I dealt with in middle school and high school my daughter is dealing with in elementary school. It’s scary. And I’m forever hearing that everyone has more than they do, more electronics, cell phones, bigger allowances, etc. My oldest will be in middle school in the fall and she wants a cell phone, contacts, a laptop and the list goes on.

    As far as opinions and voicing them, I think kids definitely hear their parents and then repeat what they hear, not necessarily in the correct context! With my daughter especially we have to be careful. My husband I made a comment driving out of our neighborhood once during the holidays that we didn’t care for one neighbor’s light display and she told them next time she saw them! She has to learn that what we discuss at home stays at home! 🙂

    Ahhh, kids.

  6. Things have changed drastically since my boys were in school. They didn’t have cell phones then nor was there such an interest in gadgets. Parents share a role in bringing up their children with the right values and principles, but being surrounded with kids that have everything is difficult. It was much simpler when I was at school and no one competed with anyone. Life changed a great deal in the 90’s and now.

  7. Jane,

    First off… I wanted to let you know that I’m on Chapter 9 of Easy On The Eyes!

    Peer pressure and popularity have indeed changed over the years between when I was of age and now what my twins are experiencing. Popularity is equally important, however I truly believe that today’s parents have a different spin on how we discuss peer pressure and popularity with our children. I know that all my parents said about it was that studies were more important, these people wouldn’t be my friends after school was over, and just to ignore it. What I focus on with my children is HOW DO THEY WANT TO BE PERCEIVED by their peers. What kind of girl do they want to be and what type of woman do they wish to become. We spend a lot of time on The Golden Rule and taking the “high road” when dealing with issues. I do realize how much they value their friendships and relationships and how they feel it defines a good part of them. But, I try to also remind them how much of them is wrapped up in their intellectual ability, their natural talent for sports, and their relationship with God.

    I hope all is well with the boys and Ty!

    A Novel Menagerie

  8. I sometimes think my generation of moms/dads have gotten on the crazy boat when it comes to child rearing and our involvement. (Now mind you, I sometimes remind myself of Taylor of Mrs. Perfect with my volunteerism.) But the parents during my growing up time were not so uber involved in everything. As parents, at least the experiences at my kid’s school is that we’ve got a lot of parents with way too much time on their hands and the desire to get involved in the minutaie of their kids’ lives. I think we’ve developed a generation of over involved, highly stressed out kids. Parents who are reliving their lives through their kids and take things way too seriously. (Me included…need to remind myself to dial down.)

    I’m probably not answering the topic question- but you made hit a hot button.
    Hope you’re doing well. Looking forward to the new book.

  9. When I went to elementary school friendships were based on where you lived, as there were no “soccer moms” types that drove kids across town to play or do after school activities. You walked to school with with the kids in your neighborhood, and played with them. There was a bus for the kids who lived further away, near Lake Washington, so there was a status about that but I didn’t pay much attention. I was very hurt once in my Blue Birds group when a pretty blonde rich girl didn’t want to sit by me. I was good at sports and I was smart and loved school and most kids wanted to play with me at recess so that was my first experience in snobbery. I was to learn lots more about it in middle and high school with private clubs and a caste system based on the clothes/cars that would fit in colonial India! So, I learned early on the rich were different but the gap was so wide I didn’t even think about being “popular”. I had my group of friends and worked hard to get good grades and focused on getting a scholarship to college instead of the social side of school.

  10. I think a parents opinions on just about everything color a childs opinion of just about everything. During the last presidential election I made a negative comment about one of the canidates- not a bad comment, just that I didn’t like something he said- and my youngest all of a sudden had a very negative opinion of this canidate.

    Children pick up on EVERYTHING we do and say so I’d have to agree that their school interactions and relationships are also affected by what we do and say.

  11. It would be easy to blame the parents but honestly, I have known kids with the nicest parents ever and the child was, well, a brat. I think it stems from what is in the media, maybe other parents influencing THEIR kids and them passing it on. One thing I have practically forcefed my kids is BE NICE. I once wrote a whole six paragraph post on manners and I believe that if you raise your kids with good manners then that flows into other parts of their lives.

  12. I was raised to work for what I wanted. If I wanted extra clothes as I was a teenager, I had to babysitt and make that money to pay for them. I was never handed a car, I had to work and save for it. I use to think, “why are my parents like this?” They have always been financially well off and I always saw how some of my friends were handed anything they wanted. One day it finally hit me that my parents were not being “mean” they were trying to make me learn values and how important it is to be independent and sucessful. It must have worked because I bought my own home at age 19, with no one elses help. I am going to raise my daughters the same way. I don’t think kids/teenagers appreciate what they have. I think until you make them work for what they want they really don’t understand that all the material thing really don’t matter. There is no way I will be buying my daughters $100. pairs of jeans. I think this is ridiculous. I remember back when I was a teenager you had to have the Calvin Klein jeans, so in a way, things really don’t change. I hope my daughters will be the type of girls who don’t judge people by what they wear and vise versa. Life is too short for such meaningless games.

  13. I was in 5th or 6th grade when the concept of designer jeans emerged, and I remember my parents refusing to buy me that $30 pair of Jordache until my birthday in 7th grade, not because they couldn’t afford it but because they thought the whole thing was ridiculous.

    I have a 6th grade and 3rd grade girl and a pre-K boy and while we are fortunate enough to be able to shop where we want I too try and make them understand that at the end of the day if you are a good person it doesn’t matter what other people’s perception is of you. That being said, we know that perception is almost 100% based on the physical appearance, so they do need to understand that their choices will have ramifications, good or bad. I have no problems with tattoos or piercings, but others might and will only judge you on how you look not who you are.

    One thing I don’t agree with (and this is random but somewhat related) is the new concept of everyone getting a prize for every damn thing they do. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “but it’s not fair to the rest of the kids if this teacher’s class gets a prize and they get nothing” I’d be uber rich. We seem to have developed this concept of leveling the playing field and dumbing down rather than letting the cream rise to the top. Life is not fair – that is just the truth – and by handing these kids trophies and medals for breathing so they don’t feel bad when someone who deserves it gets one is leading to a group of very unhappy young adults who do not understand why they are not coddled and complimented on everything they do.

    Sorry had to vent.

  14. We’ve taught our 4 children to appreciate what they have, to work for what they want, to work for good grades, to respect others and the environment, to be polite, to be honest and to feel loved… that’s really what a parent’s role is love and support.

    They didn’t get everything they wanted, they didn’t get a car when they turned 16.

    However, they did receive a lot of compliments from teachers, friends and neighbors. They grew up to be wonderful young adults of whom I’m very proud!

  15. I think it was much easier when we were kids. You had all your neighborhood friends. You went outside to play and used your imagination. While there was peer pressure it wasn’t as intense. The one thing I always wanted was for my kids to grow up in a neighborhood full of kids like both my husband and I did and we never managed that.

    I think it’s a gut instinct to want to give your kids everything they want and more but on teh other hand you want to hold back a bit so they aren’t “too” spoiled. My kids are well dressed mostly because better brands wear better–although we have never had good luck with Aeropostle–(I do most of my shopping at the outlest and Marshalls & TJ Maxx). My kids had cell phones in 6th grade mostly for security since school was farther from home.

    My daughter was upset that some friends joined the “Preps” group in 7th grade. I asked her what was so bad about them (besides them being witches with a b). “Well they all wear clothes from Aero & American Eagle and A&F…” OKay have you looked in your closet girl? She has nice friends and a very low tolerance for drama. I am anxious to see what next year brings because she made the High School dance team. Although that might not be as cool as it was years ago — I think it’s incredibly cool!

    In our town some schools are much more social than others. And those seem to be the schools where the parents are wealthier. There are birthday parties and all kinds of sleepovers all the time. I don’t know if it is good or bad that my kids didn’t attend those schools. We seem to be the only family that has all those parties. So I do think that it is the parents and their attitude that manifest much of the social waring.

    Hope week 6 of Baby Mac is getting easier!


  16. I think parents get too involved in their children’s relationships. They should be teaching them how to resolve problems or issues themselves not getting in the middle of them and making it worse. I have seen with my own eyes what women will do when they think it’s their job to handle the problem but not only is that not teaching the child to resolve things on their own but it is going to make a bigger mess. I don’t remember parents getting too involved in issues between kids when I was growing up but I think kids are different now too so it’s kind of hard to judge. I think a lot of kids are given far too much and most of them don’t understand what responsibility is. Handling relationships fits into that too.

    Hope all is well with you and the baby!!

  17. It is my perception that many people, (myself included, once upon a time), believe that their children and their performance, whether it be on the soccer field, in the pool, or scholastically, are an extention of themselves. If the child wins, or scores, then by extension, so does the parent, which the child recognizes and it puts further pressure on the child. If it’s important to Mom to have the Coach purse, then of course it’s going to be important, to both the Mother and the child, that her child dresses on a level that is equal to that. What starts out with just the parents, becomes a part of the child’s life. I think we all have to be careful and draw a line, both in our mind and in our verbage, between appreciation for a well made object, (phone, car, accessory), and the ownership of it becoming a yardstick for our worth.
    I am 54 this year, and there was, to a degree, a great deal of need in high school and college, particularly, to have the right shoes or the right kind of clothing, however, as our ability to communicate with others and be exposed to communication from others has become such that we are “plugged in” on a constant basis, of course the need to look/dress/possess has been accelerated as well. So, I DO think it’s worse than it used to be, however most social ills, and social good, are seen more, spoken of more. We are more exposed than we used to be. As a result, there are fewer hidden faults, fewer hidden desires. We live more “outloud”.

  18. things have definitely changed over the years; we had possibly 2-3 outfits that we wore to school. Nowadays if you wear the same top 2 x’s in one week you get told ‘you wore that this week already(this happened to my niece). Well excuse me is what she should have said, lol.
    When our boys went to high school in the early 1990’s some of the fellow classmates were given $50 by there parents for spending; yikes, no way could we afford that. It brings peer pressure on the ones who don’t have what the others do. Like with cell phones, Ipods, etc.

  19. Interesting topic. The social caste system in all high schools has remained mysteriously above public scrutiny, despite its disastrous effect upon the most vulnerable teenagers. The one constant, for instance, in all the tragic school shootings is that the shooter(s) felt alienated from their classmates and the school system. They all had been “picked on” by others and they eventually exploded and retaliated in a terrible, deadly fashion.

    While there have been rather anemic campaigns to end bullying in schools, it obviously hasn’t worked and the social structure which makes bullying possible isn’t even mentioned, let alone condemned. In every high school, the vast majority of students are killing time, trying desperately to fit in, and are essentially the “crowd” or background players. The handful of “jocks” and the rest of the popular clique are essentially the celebrities of that school. They are not only fawned over by the other students, they are often treated like royalty by the teachers and staff (especially high profile athletes). It’s no wonder they end up with such monstrous egos. For another handful of less fortunate students, high school is a living hell. In more recent times, they have reacted to the absurd caste system by forming cliques of their own (goths, etc.), but this has not spared them from being bullied and harassed by others (and not protected from the adults who work in the schools).

    Why should such emphasis be placed on football and basketball, for instance, while the chess club and the astronomy club are considered “nerd” activities? What kind of messages are we sending, and what kind of priorities do we have, when two male sports (football and basketball) are clearly more important to teachers and administrators (not to mention parents) than academics or the well being of all students? Encouraging the football players to wear their jerseys, and the cheerleaders to wear their outfits, each Friday during football season is just one of many quaint traditions that enforce this system.

    I don’t know what the ultimate answers are, but I do know that we ought to at least be addressing the real problem. Peer pressure can be minimized through effective adult control. The adults working in our schools have not been doing a good job at this, in my estimation. I was astounded, for instance, to see that my daughter’s high school features a fashion show now, where all the predictable “stars” can strut their stuff even more than usual, to the applause of their parents, the faculty and the background players (vast majority of students).

    In many ways, the school caste system mirrors the way our society at large operates. Just as the schools love to dole out the lion’s share of attention and rewards to a tiny number of students, our society has seen to it that 1% of our people receive the lion’s share of wealth. Nothing good “trickles down” to the unwashed masses in the working world, and it’s doubtful that the social system in our schools will ever produce a “trickle down” effect for the great mass of students.

    Sorry to ramble. This is a subject that is dear to my heart. I wasn’t popular, or picked on in school, but I can definitely relate to those who were. I’d like to see some politicians and/or social commentators address this very important subject.

  20. I think children have more now then when I was growing up. Although social statis was important back then also it the parents had the money. Now days children epect to have everything they want weather their parents have the money to buy it or not. In ways its a sad world we are living in. When I was growing up if we got a new pair of shoes it was awesome. Now they could have twenty pairs of shoes and still want a new pair.

  21. Another great topic…

    Kids are influenced by everything they see and hear, inside the home and out. As was pointed out in #2, however, we have little control over HOW that influence impacts who they are (or what they say, or who they become!).

    The world will show our children how to be mean and kind, glutenous and disciplined, judgmental and accepting, narrow-minded and open-hearted, even hateful and loving. All we can do is try to exhibit the best of these traits, not only for our children, but for our fellow human beings. Because I believe our behavior inspires others, for good and bad.

    Hope all is well with the whole family!

  22. Children definately do learn from the influences of their environment. Be it home or friends. The whole ritual of social status and popularity wars has not changed, just the gadgets and labels that are cool. There will forever be a pecking order.

    I feel the only difference is hopefully now that we understand it a bit better, as parents we can hopefully teach our children what is important in life and how to base our self worth on what is really important.

  23. Parents play a big role in their child’s view of material things and popularity. I try to stress how important what’s on the inside matters.

  24. Popularity wars stemming from parents and their point of views – I just can’t answer that one honestly. Now, social status and material goods -Oh yes, yes, yes and don’t forget how active your child is relative to cheerleading, booster club, football, basketball, you get my drift all play a role in a child’s popularity from elementary right through the end of high school as well as clothes with the right labels and on and on and on. Things have changed so from when I was a child and had to wear a pair of saddle oxfords to a popular girls birthday party because that was all I had (I can’t believe I even remember that much less being invited and hadn’t before I just blurted it out). I could have never done that to one of my kids. Wouldn’t we just pull out our credit card? Yeah! Yeah! Anyway this revelation has me shellshocked but I just wanted to add that now here in south Florida kids in public elementary as well as middle school have to wear uniforms now to school. How is it in other parts of the country?

  25. My mom was a great believer in being your own person. She taught me by example that kindness and compassion are more important than having the latest fashions or the best highlights. I learned that peer pressure and competition are strong influences, but in the end, all that most people want is to be loved and accepted for who they are.

  26. Growing up we didn’t have a lot and I was unaware of not having things. I didn’t have a lot of clothes and I remember wearing my favorite purple dress every other day. I cringe now to think of that but at the time, it wasn’t a problem and no one said anything that would’ve made me uncomfortable about it. And I didn’t grow up in a poor neighborhood/area. So, I definitely think things have changed since I was growing up because having things, including designer clothes seems to be what kids have to have to fit in. A friend of mine was telling me that she’d bought her 10 year old son some jeans – I think she said from Walmart – and his response was “I’ll make those my play clothes” because he didn’t want to be seen at school in non-designer clothes. My friend set him straight on that, but that’s how things seem to be now. And my friend is not materialistic when it comes to clothes herself so it seems to be more of a peer pressure thing. And they do live in a more upscale area.

    When it comes to popularity, I do believe the parents have a lot to do with how their children respond to others, so I do believe they play a role.

  27. I feel things were so different when I was a child, but that was years ago. There was no way coming from a family of 8 kids that I would ever get new clothes. I was a hand me down kid, but so were a lot of the other kid I went to school with. My parents made me work for what I wanted and I think that is important. I see way too many parents showering their kids with exspensive gifts forno reason and their kids treat them like dirt in return. I really don’t understand. I think some parents now days feel they are away from their kids so much (andat work) that they feel guilty and feel they need to “buy” their love. Maybe I’m wrong, but thisis what I see in some families. Sad, it really isn’t the way to live. My feeling is who cares what someone is wearing. Does anyone remember that what really counts is what’s inside? You aren’t going to find a true friend by looking at what clothes they are wearing, that’s for sure! 🙂

  28. Sure things are different today…things always change and evolve just as we change and evolve. Do my kids have more than I have…sure. In school they have more than some and less than others. When they were in private school and we had less than most of the families, there were some families that didnt want anything to do with us because we had nothing to offer them but other families that didnt focus on those things. Quite often the families who let everyone know that they have the most money and use it to gain control within the school, also have kids who get control because of their parents financial influence. Whatever values the parents instilled in their children, that is what predominates in the children.

  29. Blog Book Club Contest Winner!

    Good afternoon, everyone. I’ve randomly drawn a name out of a hat and this is what I got:

    Congratulations to #1 Dee, you are this contest’s winner. Please send me a private email with your address and we’ll get your ARC of Easy on the Eyes out in the mail to you.

    Thanks to everyone for discussing the novel, and for making these book club conversations such a great success! I hope to see everyone’s reader reviews online (at your blog, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, Facebook…).


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