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I'm Afraid My Kid Is ... Popular

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Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: Last week, my daughter was elected student body president of her elementary school. She had to make a poster and give a speech in front of several hundred students, who then voted. There were seven terrific candidates (well, at first there were eight, but one got booted from the race upon the discovery that there had been promises of Silly Bandz in exchange for votes ...). She ran against two of her good friends.

ten year old girl
Frankly, I was surprised she won. The other posters and speeches were excellent, and I can't even remember the last time a girl won the coveted title. When I told a friend of her victory, she responded, "Wow, how does it feel to have a popular kid?" Instantly, I denied it. "She's such a good girl, such a nice girl, so pleasant to everyone and so respectful ... how could she be popular?" But when I got home, I looked up the word "popular," and the first definition was: "regarded with favor, approval or affection by people in general." That actually describes her perfectly. 

So here's my question: Why does being popular now carry such negative connotations? Is it because "popular" kids abuse their power? Or because they became popular for the wrong reasons? Why do we now think of "popular" as another word for "mean"? 

I think I know why my daughter was elected. She's never met an activity or club she didn't like, so she knows a lot of people. She is friendly, helpful and hardworking. So people know her, like her and trust her to do a good job. If that makes her popular, so be it. I'll just have to live with it.

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13 comments so far | Post a comment now
tysmom October 19, 2010, 8:53 AM

Congrats to your daughter! I think that qualifies as the good version of popular :)

Jin October 19, 2010, 11:34 AM

I think when I was growing up, “popular” kids seemed equivalent to the “in-crowd” kids and since I wasn’t in the “in-crowd”, the term “popular” always carried a negative connotation to me. But your daughter, I know, does not befriend someone based on in-crowd or out-crowd or any-crowd status; I have a feeling she may initiate the redefining what “popular” means to a lot of people—not in or out but friendly, helpful, and hardworking (what you had listed). I like that definition and connotation a LOT better. Congrats!

Natalie October 19, 2010, 1:15 PM

Being a “popular” girl is going to create a lot of drama for her in the future (I’m speaking from experience). It’s all fun until you hit 7th grade ;)

KMayer October 23, 2010, 8:07 PM

You should be afraid, be very afraid. YOu have one chance to be popular: want 2nd grade? 6th? High School? I say wait until you’re 40 and get the last laugh!

deaddrift October 24, 2010, 7:19 PM

Popular kids are in fact at higher risk for early sex and drug/alcohol use, as well as other risky behaviors, so you do have cause to be worried.

Sew Mom October 25, 2010, 9:37 AM

It is a blessing to your child that she is popular. Be thankful for the favor she has found. Talking now about peer pressure, bullies, standing up for what is right can prevent problems. Keep communication going as she gets older. Popularity can be a very positive asset in life to people who strive to stay positive.

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