Moms Talk: What Can Be Done About Bullying?
Area mothers gathered Monday with Patch editors to talk about key parenting issues.
On Monday, Patch held its first ever “Moms Council” meeting, bringing together four mothers from the area to discuss important parenting issues. The goal of the council will be to explore topics of interest to moms — and dads — everywhere, then produce informative features for Patch readers, like you.
Below, we introduce the Moms Council and give a glimpse into what was discussed at the first meeting. If you’re interested in joining the council, please say so in the comments section below, or send an e-mail to your local Patch editor.
Meet Patch’s West Metro Moms Council
Christina Barberot is a fairly new transplant to the area, originally hailing from the Washington, D.C. area. She and her husband live in St. Louis Park with their two children, Kenley, 5, and Reid, 2. Before choosing to stay at home with her children to practice “chaos management,” Barberot worked in the corporate world at Bank of America. Although Barberot is not enthusiastic about Minnesota winters, this being her third, she did say, “I like Minnesota, it’s a great place.”
Laura Davis is an attorney, specializing in labor law. A single mom “by choice” to son Alex, 14, she lives in the Pamela Park neighborhood of Edina. Davis has been involved in state and local politics, saying she follows local news closely and would describe herself as a “moderate Democrat.”
Cindy McQuinn is a busy mom of four who lives in Wayzata. Not only does she orchestrate the schedules of her busy children — Kelan, 17, Jared, 15, Megan, 11 and Aidan, 5 — this mom helps her husband run a family business: Running with Scissors, a media production company headquartered in Wayzata. Before becoming a mom, McQuinn spent several years in the advertising field working as an art director and a graphic designer. But today she says she “sit(s) in my car all the time” as she transports her kids to one event or another. McQuinn drives a hunter green Honda Odyssey, for the record.
Jodi Quam-Johnson is not new to Patch. As the writer of the Minnetonka Patch column Patch Profiles, Quam-Johnson has had the opportunity to blend a love of writing with her inquisitive nature. Quam-Johnson currently lives in the Lake Minnetonka area, and except for 10 years of her childhood spent in Brazil and Rochester, NY, Quam-Johnson has always called Minnesota home. A graduate of Orono High School, Quam-Johnson was a middle school English teacher before deciding to stay home with her two children, Kip, 5, and Johanna, 6.
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Gathered together, the conversation started with a subject that every parent at the table seemed passionate about — bullying. Barberot and McQuinn both shared details of bullying that their children had encountered.
“There is a ‘mean girl’ phenomenon, even in preschool,” Barberot said. “There is a ringleader and she has her lackey … in a class of nine, there are tears … I’ve talked to every other mom in the class.”
McQuinn added: “Some kids are so disrespectful.” She said she told her son to be confidant and to keep his head up, but expressed her frustration that schools are limited in the punishment they can dole out to bullies.
“The school has a ‘no bullying’ policy as a rule — but they can’t punish the kids,” she said.
Davis suggested looking into a local group, Youth Frontiers, which partners with schools to create more positive school communities.
In between bites of cheeseburgers and sips of soda, every parent at the table agreed that bullying, from preschool to high school, needed to be taken more seriously by school authorities.
The conversation then moved onto the topic of social networking and the new realm of cyber-bullying. While the moms generally agreed that Facebook is OK for kids to use — with proper parental supervision — they did express concern with a new site called Formspring, which allows users to anonymously post and answer questions about each other. Because of the anonymity provided by the site, it has received some criticism nationally for encouraging bullying among teenagers.
It was a conversation that admittedly frightened the preschooler parents at the table.
“I’m going to take my kids and move to Montana,” Quam-Johnson said jokingly.
“Oh, they have Formspring in Montana,” Davis said, with a smile.
Ultimately, the moms said the key is to be aware of what your children are doing online.
“You have to stay on your toes,” McQuinn said.
Added Davis: “As a mom, you have to be in their business.”
Check back next Wednesday for an article from Laura Davis about how kids and parents can safely coexist in the Facebook universe.