TODAY

TODAY   |  September 11, 2013

‘Queen Bees’ author reveals world of teenage boys

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” the basis of the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that her new book, “Masterminds and Wingmen,” reveals that boys have as much baggage from their school days and face as many problems growing up as girls do.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> today's cover story now. a new book from the author of the best seller queen bees and wannabes . it was the basis in part for the movie mean girls . well, now she is focussing on the other half in masterminds and wingmen. we spoke to three kids she interviewed that shared what it's like to be a boy these days.

>> i'm hard working .

>> i'm very athletic.

>> i am quite academic.

>> as a guy, you always shade your emotions a little bit.

>> when my mom picked me up from school, she liked to ask a lot of questions.

>> how is school?

>> how are you? how was your day? tell me everything.

>> nothing too exciting going on. and usually i don't want to say anything.

>> of course you have the athletes, the academics. those are the more social kids that everybody looks up to.

>> i would say i'm at least as close with my best guy friends as girls are with their best girlfriends.

>> one guy and one girl go on a date and it's very awkward for them. they're in groups now when they go on date night just because it's a little more comfortable that way.

>> playing sports, it definitely boosts their reputation.

>> if you're really good at a sport, then obviously a lot of people will be really impressed. i see a lot of guys tweeting and posting on facebook.

>> they feel like putting someone else down will raise their social status .

>> letting a person know that i can take advantage of you and i can make you look so stupid in front of everybody.

>> guys can be mean, but in a different way as girls. like, girls can be verbally mean. guys can be verbally and physically mean.

>> guys face just as complicated issues as girls do. and have just as much trouble dealing with those problems.

>> she is with us. thank you for being here.

>> thank you for having me matt.

>> they're going to say this is the woman that wrote the book in part mean girls was based on. did you find the male equivalent of mean girls ?

>> sure and all kinds of different things. the world of boys is complex. we think everything is so simple with boys because they don't tell us what's going on but underneath that is a huge amount of problems, complexities, feelings, that they need to be able to get out.

>> let's talk about communications. one of the young men in that piece says his mom picks him up at school and asks him all kinds of questions and he doesn't really want to share much. they keep a lot inside and a lot of parents brush it off to he's just a boy. is there a danger in that?

>> here's the deal. i want parents to think about it from this perspective. the boy gets into the car or gets picked up by the parent in some way and he has been carrying around and being a certain way in school of armor of how he needs to be in school with his peers and if you have a relatively healthy relationship with your kid he wants to relax and decompress and parents say well how was your day today. what did you do?

>> so it sounds like an interrogation.

>> if you walk in from a hard day and your son says to you, so, dad, how was your day today? did you answer your e-mails? did you get your promotion? why not? rnlt you going to be exhausted and shut down.

>> so the boys want to communicate but in a more organic fashion.

>> absolutely. that's exactly what they want. they don't want to have constant talking. what they want is a little bit of space and then they can talk later.

>> we heard one young man that has friendships as close with his male friends as girls have with their female friends.

>> yeah.

>> do they share -- do boys share with their male friends?

>> they do but it's complicated. they feel like if they talk about things really scary to them, it feels weak. we have to be able to tell boys and show boys that it's not weak to ask for help. it's a capacity. it's a skill.

>> i want to touch on that because i want to look at startling statistics. according to the census bureau for every 100 girls with a learning disability , 160 boys do. listen to these two, according to the cdc, for every 100 girls that commit suicide. 549 boys do. and according to a secret service report 100% of school shooters are boys. this is evidence that a lot of boys are suffering in silence.

>> and we can do something about this. that's the thing. boy versus come to me for years for advice about their parents and girls and their friends and i needed to realize that sometimes i wasn't giving them the advice they needed. i needed to step back and ask the boys. this book isn't just me talking about boys. it's in conjunction with 200 boys around the country day in and day out who helped me go through -- my mom needs to know this. my dad needs to know this. this doesn't work when my dad talks to me like this. this is what break ups feel like to me. they're telling us what is going on with that.

>> i'm a father of a 12-year-old boy. my son went to middle school and he got a phone. his first cell phone which opens up the world of social media and texting. what do i need to know about how boys use those tools.

>> well, they text. they don't usually e-mail. but at the same time, look, kids have been playing video games for a long time. what i want parents to realize is that social networking that they're doing on video games is actually where they're learning how to act and treat each other. so by the time they get their phone their values are pretty set but you need to tie it to your concrete values of what your boys should be acting like in real life .

>> one part of me, though, wants to check on the texts.

>> you can do that.

>> and the other part wants to say i trust you because i think trust is empowering.

>> i agree. so for a middle school kid, absolutely know their password and check it and as they show you that they are responsible then they can do this. what i also want to say to parents is, i did this book -- but i didn't think boys would read this book for parents. so i created a book for boys, an e-book