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Old 10-02-2012, 09:50 AM   #31
brookmey
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Originally Posted by HM
I'm so sorry. Sounds awful.
I never got involved in my kid's school's PTAs. It wasn't for any reasons like yours though. What I did was volunteer directly in the classroom for field trips and other things. I'd talk directly to your son's teacher about volunteering in the class and skip dealing with that PTA group. Just pay your dues each year (if you want) and be done with it.
This is what I suggest, too. The PTA at my kids' school is a very exclusive group and they are not welcoming to "outsiders.". They are very bossy and controlling and the times I worked with them when DD was in kinder were stressful and a nightmare. So, now I volunteer to chaperone field trips, help with classroom science labs, as a classroom reader, party helper, etc. All of these are arranged directly with my kids' teachers. I no longer go to any of the PTA sponsored volunteer events. The only out of the classroom volunteering I do is the book fair in the fall and spring. That's a lot of fun. I love getting to see my kids and their friends during the school day. You can still do a lot at your son's school without being in the PTA.

Good luck. Try talking to your son's teacher and forget about the "meanie moms.". They can be pretty overwhelming at times.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:09 AM   #32
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Hi all, I'm fairly new to the boards (long time lurker!) and I've been having a bit of a problem at my son's school lately so I thought I'd ask for some advice. My oldest son started kindergarten this year and before I knew it I was swept into the land of the PTA. My son goes to a very cliquey private school and I've been having a really hard time volunteering without feeling ridiculously uncomfortable. I bring up ideas and they're shot down immediately, they deem them “not good enough for our children” or “we can do better than that.” I've also been given very snide and rude comments about my age and my marriage. Most of the women are in their mid-to-late thirties and frequently tell me that I'm just not old enough to do a certain task. One woman called me a “child bride” the other day. I told my husband and he was livid and felt terrible because he is the one who wanted our son to go to this particular school. He wanted to talk to the principal, but I don't want my husband fighting my battles. I know I shouldn't let it bother me, but I just wanted to cry the other day. I feel like I'm back in high school, it's ridiculous. Has anyone else experienced PTA bullying? What should I do? It's not so much that I'm worried about myself, but I'm worried that these moms will start taking it out on my son or tell their children to avoid him. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Haven't read the other replies yet, but will tell you its not exclusive to private schools. I got to the point where I threw up my hands and said forget it. And I feel bad throwing in the towel, but it stressed me out so bad, and I felt like I just couldn't fight it anymore.

If you didn't play tennis or belong to the club you were "out". And the funny thing is, that these same women would complain because no one would "help" out (you know. Do the grunt work that they didn't want to do) but couldn't see why they lost so many volunteers.

I wish you luck. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer though...
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:10 AM   #33
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Thank you everyone for the advice! Just to clarify, I've lived in this town for about 4 years now (my husband was born here), but the majority of my friends sent their children to other schools. My husband works with several husbands of the PTA ladies, and many of them have been to dinner at my house. It's pretty funny how power can change a person so much, but I'm not going to take it so seriously. I was NEVER going to let my husband contact the principal, then I'd be *that* mom who can't stand on her own two legs, urgh. It's not so much that I care about volunteering, if they want to be horrible to me, then they can be, I'm there to support my kid, nothing more. I just don't want them to take it out on my son, who hasn't had a play date since school started (which is starting to worry me). I have a very strong art background so I've been trying to get involved with the art program, but the woman who runs it says she can do it alone and she is holding on to it for dear life, geez. I'm thinking of having a Halloween party at my house though, just so my son can spend a little more time around kids that go to his school and their parents can get a feel for who I am. I'm generally used to the "child bride" and "trophy wife" assumptions, but after awhile it just gets old. I'm a good mom and in a very happy, normal marriage and I don't need to be in a position of power to prove that
Awhhh. It's not fun being the new girl, and it really stinks when you are dealing with the climate you are. Not exactly the same thing but when I started in my current workplace, I was the youngest and WOWSA the other women could be mean harpies. I just dug in and showed I could do a good job and eventually the harpiness stopped. They found that I was competent, reliable and had a good head on my shoulders.

As an aside, you don't want to decorate bulletin boards do you? We had a PTA thread a few weeks ago when a poster was upset that someone wanted to help her with the school's bulletin boards.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:12 AM   #34
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That is because that is what all the "mean girls" do after HS, they join their kid's school's PTA.
Exactly! These are probably the women that peaked in high school - they have nothing else to do with their lives, now, so they're going to spend all 18 (or 20 whatever) years reliving their youth through their children.

My advice - ditch the regular PTA meetings. There are still plenty of ways you can volunteer at the school without being a PTA member. Go to your child's teacher directly and see if there is anything that you can do to help their class (Are you artsy? My mother made beautiful bulletin boards in the hallways for all of our teachers - whe was known as the 'bulletin board lady'... they also need people to make copies of worksheets, bind student books, etc - you can be a great asset to the teacher).

Also, you'll meet so many women like you volunteering during the day (my mother met her best friend in the "work room" doing die-cut letters) which will give you plenty of opportunities to set up play dates.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:15 AM   #35
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One suggestion I have is to not make suggestions for a little while, but volunteer for as much as you can. If they won't listen to you try making them see what you can do. It might not work, but it might be a good way to start.
!
This is very good advice. As someone who will have kids at the elementary school for about 15 years in a row, I made it a point to sit back and observe (working on committees, but keeping quiet). Nothing ruffles feathers like a new kindergarten parent with new ideas - it's just the way it is.

At this point, I'm solidly in the loop (being here for over 10 years), but I find I still prefer to avoid the drama, offer to help, give my opinion when asked, but stay out of the drama.

I've never heard of kids getting black listed over any parent, even if they aren't loved buy the PTA. I've found that it's best to bide your time, start off slowly, and earn the respect of the other members. Keep in mind, some of them are crazy, but you have to wait it out, to see a clearer picture, and seek out the nice ones.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:19 AM   #36
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There is a famous song written about the PTA:

". . . the day my mama socked it to the Harper Valley PTA" Loved Barbara Eden in the movie.

That being said, I would love to be 24 again and be called a "child bride." Chalk some of it up to jealousy, some of it up to dynamics and some of it up to real life.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:47 AM   #37
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PTA president here. Not at OP school. We have so few volunteers, I would love to have you come to our school. This has made me reflect on whether I am excluding people. I don't think that our group does. In fact, we have done everything we can think of to generate members, from offering door prizes at meetings to class contests for the most members. People are just "too busy." (btw, so am I.) We had a new mom at the first meeting who offered to take over a major part of a fundraiser. Good for her. She has some good new ideas, too. Anyway, good for you for offering to help. Your group is the one who is missing out.

So, as others have said, you may want to look into other ways to help. Our school has a volunteer group once a week (also limited participation) but some of the things they do are prepare items for teachers to use in class - visual aides, flash cards, etc. With your art background, maybe the teachers would be interested and you could do this while not being an official member of the art program. You would be a teachers' helper. Also helping in library or lunch or where ever needed.

Good luck to you. You should be proud that you are willing to be involved.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:00 AM   #38
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I would bow out of the PTA and volunteer my time with the teacher directly as others have suggested.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:35 AM   #39
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The "child bride" and "trophy wife" assumptions will disappear when you are old, like in your 30s. Enjoy it while it lasts.

As for playdates, are you inviting kids to your house? Don't wait for invitations for your son. Get out the class list, and call every boy (and in K, you can have playdates with the girls if your ds hangs with the girls at school) mom in the class to schedule a time for the child to come to your house to play or join you for a fun outing (only schedule one child per playdate). If everyone says no, then you need to talk to the teacher about how your ds is doing in school socially.
Ouch! That's a stake in the heart to a woman in her 40's!
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:40 AM   #40
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That is because that is what all the "mean girls" do after HS, they join their kid's school's PTA.

I have learned through the years to not be too vocal in the PTA because I'm not one of them and if you aren't you can forget about being heard
I volunteer for whatever they need me to do, but that is about it.


Our town is one of those places where people just don't leave... Just about every PTA officer at the public elem and DS's middle school comes from a family that's been here long enough to have streets and buildings carrying their name. They aren't as outright mean as the OP's experiences, but there is very much a vibe of "If you didn't grow up with us, don't bother" and as a transplant that's a battle I've chosen not to fight. I volunteer when they need extra people but I don't go to meetings or waste my energy coming up with ideas for the clique to shoot down. There are plenty of friendlier places for me to focus my energy - the kids' sports leagues and the girls' private school are far more welcoming to newcomers.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:51 AM   #41
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This is very good advice. As someone who will have kids at the elementary school for about 15 years in a row, I made it a point to sit back and observe (working on committees, but keeping quiet). Nothing ruffles feathers like a new kindergarten parent with new ideas - it's just the way it is.

At this point, I'm solidly in the loop (being here for over 10 years), but I find I still prefer to avoid the drama, offer to help, give my opinion when asked, but stay out of the drama.

I've never heard of kids getting black listed over any parent, even if they aren't loved buy the PTA. I've found that it's best to bide your time, start off slowly, and earn the respect of the other members. Keep in mind, some of them are crazy, but you have to wait it out, to see a clearer picture, and seek out the nice ones.
This I agree with I have been at my kids's school now 9 years and I am a worker bee through and through. I dont head any committees, I just sign up for what needs to be done and I show up to do it. I have no desire to run anything.

Our PTA seems ok, the majority of them live in the same development so they do BBQs and other stuff together outside of school but I think this gives them the appearance of being cliquey. Our prinicipal talked about this very complaint last night and she said she has been around a long time and you will find it everywhere!

I know one new mom was complaining about the clique, I know for a fact I am not a part of it, but they always welcome the help so I am not sure what she wants out of it the group.

I would think these moms are jealous of your youth, but you do need to tread carefully, new ideas are great but sometimes change is hard, and sometimes the change you want to make is not as easy as you think. I just had a mom complain about our Yearbook. She wanted it changed but didnt of course want to help. When I explain to her how much time her changes would need, she got all huffy with me as if I didnt like her ideas. I am a volunteer, I love new ideas but I can reinvent the wheel bc of one complaint and certainly if you dont want to actually want to help.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:53 AM   #42
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I kind of was in a similar situation. I was 23 and 25 when I had my kids. We were living in NC when they began elementary school. I was very involved and a room mom most years and volunteered and chaperoned field trips...I did everything I could to be involved. We then moved to MD right in time for our kids to start 3rd and 5th grade. I was, by far, one of the youngest moms for both grades...most of the moms were well into their 40s (at least 10 years older than I) and I felt like they looked down on me. And they were all good friends (most had been at the school since Kindergarten and even lived in this community for years before...in NC it was more transient). This was a public school but I was not 'let in' to the inner circle and I tried to be very involved but was also shut down like OP (I volunteered to help with the silent auction/spaghetti dinner and was basically told what to do and all of my suggestions were ignored or shot down) . The usual room moms were buddies with the teachers (some had actually taught them and some had taught their older kids).

My solution was simple...I quit volunteering. I had been super involved all the previous years, so I felt like I could take a break. My DS was starting to request that I not volunteer anyway. My 3rd grade twin DDs had a class overnight camping trip and I did volunteer for that and it was H-E-double hockey sticks. That was pretty much my last shebang. Actually, I did help with Field Day that year and then for 4th grade I just volunteered to make copies for the teachers...I'd go in twice a week and print out (sometimes collate and staple) the assignments for the teacher. That was a nice gig in that I didn't need to deal with the other moms. It was a hassle at times though...they had only 1 copier in the school and I be assigned a time to do it, but the snooty other moms (the regulars) thought that they didn't need to adhere to the schedule and would just come whenever they wanted. Sometimes I'd get there (for my scheduled time) and Mrs. Stepford Wife would be at the copier printing out 100 six page test booklets or some such crap. So, I stopped doing that when my DDs went to 5th grade.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:58 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by mjkacmom View Post
This is very good advice. As someone who will have kids at the elementary school for about 15 years in a row, I made it a point to sit back and observe (working on committees, but keeping quiet). Nothing ruffles feathers like a new kindergarten parent with new ideas - it's just the way it is.

At this point, I'm solidly in the loop (being here for over 10 years), but I find I still prefer to avoid the drama, offer to help, give my opinion when asked, but stay out of the drama.

I've never heard of kids getting black listed over any parent, even if they aren't loved buy the PTA. I've found that it's best to bide your time, start off slowly, and earn the respect of the other members. Keep in mind, some of them are crazy, but you have to wait it out, to see a clearer picture, and seek out the nice ones.
This is great advice when entering any new situation.

OP, you're in this for the long haul. You want to help (and maybe you pay less to the school if you donate a certain number of hours). I happen to think every parent should participate with their children's PTAs, even if only by attending general meetings. Don't give up. Find your niche.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:59 AM   #44
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The "child bride" and "trophy wife" assumptions will disappear when you are old, like in your 30s. Enjoy it while it lasts.
No, it won't. When you're a young parent that doesn't go away. It isn't any easier fitting in with the football boosters when you're 34 with a high schooler than it is getting involved with the PTA when you're 24 with a kindergartner. BTDT. The other parents are still a decade older than you and some will be judgmental about it.
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:26 PM   #45
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From what I have seen, this is pretty common.
Not just in PTA, but in many organizations. Especially those that involve schools, kids, etc. I also saw this in our local Cub Scout organizations.

There is just something about this type of situation in itself that brings these kinds of people out. They have to be Queen (King) of the deal. It is like Jr. High just keeps repeating itself.

I would never have wanted to be involved with the PTA here.
We finally pulled our son out of Cub Scouts that last year, because this kind of thing was so bad. I mean REALLY bad. We skipped the last year of Cub Scouts completely... Then a year later, we found a really great Scout Troop. DS is now getting ready to work on the last achievements to make Eagle Scout.

OP, my advice is that it never works out to 'make waves'.
Not in any obvious way.
You can't just change over to a new PTA organization, like we changed Scout Troops.
So, you really are gonna have to kind of stay back and just deal with the reality of those who are all about being TPTB.

Your choices are hang in there, and ride in the back seat.... Or decide that you no longer want to keep being involved.

We know that you do have the best of intentions!!!
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