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  • Dealing with Difficult Parents

    I have a huge issue with a group of parents that is only getting worse. I was a den leader of the same Den for 2 years. We started out with 8 boys in tigers and by the end of the year we were down to 3. Last year one of the boys from a local private school invited all the boys in his class to join. So we went from 3-11 boys overnight. During this time myself and the assistant den leader where in talks about him taking over so I could step up to ACM. We started the transition in Januaury I stepped back and let him take charge I continued to go to the meetings and run the behind the seens stuff such as rank advancement and what not. By the end of the year he was running everything and had taken the structure I laid out and continued on with the help of the parents. I thought everything was fine. This year we added 5 more boys to the den and it was discided by myself, the cubmaster and the Charter Rep to split the den. However the Parents of the boys who all went to the private school said if we split them up they would all quit. We made the choice to start a new den with the new boys only plus my son. I thought it was all good till about 3 days ago. The den leader that took my place contacted me and said he was fed up and needed to talk. So we met up today and sat down. I was blown away by the conversation. The same parents that would not switch dens and wanted the den to be kids from their school only have spent the last 6 months coming to him complaining about issues all involving me. When I first heard this I thought maybe they didn't like my leadership style or maybe they were upset I called out a few boys for behavior but it was issues that were so petty they wernt even worth talking about like
    Checking in kids for a rain gutter raggata and forgetting the name of one of the boys

    Calling out parents who brought alchohol on a camping trip

    Go through a list of questions at one of the very first den meetings we had with a boy to find out if he really earned his baseball belt loop.

    Not going down a huge hill to help bring up cub mobiles due to a health issue

    Not getting a e-mail about an event and not realizing there was a change in what I was supose to bring

    On top of that the parents didn't think I was engaged in the second half of the year and thought all I was doing is sitting and making the asst den leader do everything.

    I mean come on really you are putting me and the den leader through all this for a few petty little issues. Am I not human do I not bleed, I am stepping up as Cubmaster in 3 months and I have people questioning my ability to lead. I am a behind the seens kinds of person I am the guy who arrives at events early to set up and stays late to break down. I even aquirred the new location for our pack meetings and am paying the rental fee so we can use it. And yes no one knows that is going on its my way of giving anonimously. I run scouting for food each year but none of these parents that are questioning my abilty or commitment see all that I am doing instead they are focused on what they are not seeing. I am not sure what to do I am about at a point where I am thinking I may just jump ship and find another pack for my boys. But who knows what else I could get into. I just want to know others have delt with this same kind of petty junk.. We teach the boys the cub moto which is "Do your best" Shouldn't we expect that and nothing more from our leaders as well. How can we teach that and then turn around and belittle others behind their backs over silly things

  • #2
    I would first suggest you set up a meeting with all of the parents and your adult leaders and explain this too them, and let them have the chance to ask questions to try and clear this up. Most of this sounds like a commo problem. But I do know the problem with parents from Private Schools.. more moeny usually, and all they do is complain, but don't want to get in and help..


    • #3
      It sounds like all of their issues with you were while you were still one of the dens leaders. You are no longer a leader for their den, so why are they still complaining?

      Are any of these parents in a leadership role in the den?

      What was the response of the den leader to these issues?

      Personally, my response would be if you don't like the way the den is run, put your time, and money, where your mouth is. Get yourself registered, and fully trained, and be a part of the solution.

      By the way, of the list of examples that you gave, the only one that had any merit was the one about the baseball belt loop. BSA allows parents to sign off on their Cub Scout son's work. The criteria for completion of requirements in Cub Scouts is Do Your Best, and parents are charged with knowing when their son has done his best. Once it has been signed off, we should accept it as a done deal, and not question it. We should definitely not put the Scout thru an interrogation.


      • #4
        Personally, my response would be if you don't like the way the den is run, put your time, and money, where your mouth is. Get yourself registered, and fully trained, and be a part of the solution.

        Hear hear!

        The problem is that this would need to come from the DL when they mentioned it to him. Now, it's all water over the dam.

        I would not hold a meeting and I would spend ZERO time defending myself. These are all specific situations in the past they are complaining about and not ongoing concerns. (Plus, I'd put money on the fact that none of them would show up to the meeting anyway.)

        Some people are never happy and view the world through the prism of negativity. I suspect that these people have a predisposed view of you and are seeing any particular thing you do that they don't like as just more validation of their beliefs about you.

        I know it's hard to swallow the bile that comes up with these things, but try to stay focused on the reason you're in the program, which is not them. It is their sons, and yours. Particularly since you will be CM, focus on putting together the best program you can and good things will follow. It may sound a bit polyannish but if you don't have that outlook this kind of stuff can eat you up or get you thinking about jumping ship, as you already are. Find the positive people in your pack and surround yourself with them, and get them to step up to help you. When your pack is running as an enthusiastic and engaging program, these other people will shut up or at least find that nobody outside their own enclave of negativity will listen to them.


        • #5
          ScoutNut- I agree with you to a point on the loop thing but its not like I was questioning the parents integrity. It was our second meeting and i was going over requirements individually with each parent. I am all for parents signing off on activities but there was a lot of questions about it and I discided to talk to each parent and son individually to go over the requirements on a loop or two so they could get a feel for the process. We weren't looking for advance knowledge as much as making sure the kids had the basics. Like name 1 rule in base ball things like that. There are requirments laid out for each loop whats the point in having the requirments if we are just going to give them a loop for just walking out in the field. Anyway the issue here isn't the loop as much as why the parent didn't just come to me and tell me he was frustraited about it. I mean that was a year and a half ago and I am just now hearing about it. And I am hearing about it from the den leader i trained.


          • #6
            I guess my other concern is even though I am not the den leader now. I am on the ACM. and soon the CM. Negativity like that can be a wild fire and can bring other negitive people out of the wood works. I just don't want to see a cooh formed against me next year and i feel Like they are watching my every move to see what I am going to do wrong next it happen just 3 weeks ago at cub mobile. The den leader of that den came up to me and said hey you sould jump in and go down and bring up your kids car. Apparently some other dads were watching I discretly sent a few boy scouts down to do it for me. Why you ask I have Authritus in my knee's and I was already in pain that day from getting up to the top of the hill. Honestly is it really nessasary for me to share all my health issues with the entire pack again instead of coming to me and asking about it they started complaining about it behind my back and apparently it was discided that I thought I was better than every one else and there for it was not my job to do so. Again if they would of confronted me I could have share with them quielty that I am in some major pain and honestly I am only 31 the fact that I have limitations like that is a little embarassing. What dad doesn't want to show off infront of his kids and show how strong and manly he is.


            • #7
              I think that the person that you need to talk to is the den leader, again.

              When he, finally, came to tell you he was "fed up" (by what/who?), what exactly did he say his responses were to these complaints?


              • #8
                Okay, TWO things need to be done before anything else.


                You have arthritis in your knee? Tell them. Explain it. Matter of fact, while you are at it, have a roundup style meeting. You know what I am talking about? Everybody shows up, have Colors, sing a song, make them laugh, then the Den Leaders take the kids outside for fun and games.

                Meanwhile, you and the CM and the CC talk to the parents.

                Sounds like a bunch of tiny issues indeed. BUT.... If you don't do and say something about them, they are gonna grow into big issues that you waon't be able to do something about.

                Now for that arthritis:
                I am 39 years old and cannot use my right arm the way I want. I cannot throw a ball like I used to. I cannot play frisbee for a long time. I cannot clime a rope anymore.

                Why? CANCER! It's gone, I'm okay, but the 2 surgeries did a number on me. I have a scar from behind and level with the top of my right ear straight down the side of my neck to my shoulder, then down frontwards to my shouklder blade, then straight across to my Adam's apple.

                Sometimes the scouts want me to do something that I can't quite do. I tell them I can't. They ask why...I tell them why.

                They understand AND for some reason..think the scar is really cool!

                Go figure!

                So it's time to put the embarassment aside. Arthritis is not a choice you made, it's not something you asked for.I'm pretty damn sure you don't want it! People get it, injuries and issues are a part of life. Soon enough you will stop comparing stories of cars and weekend adventures and start talking about and compariing war stories about this surgery or that scar. Trust me, I am right there and doing it.And doing it while scouting. Nobody has quit nor has the pack suffered from it.

                If nothing else, think how embarassing a den folding is?

                So the parents may not understand why you do some things. They never ever will either if you don't tell them why. The only thing they will know is that you "act" in a way other leaders don't.

                Sure, some parents are arrogant and always see themselves as some sort of exception. But all of them do not have ESP. TRhey cannot read your mind and no explanation from you or no difference in what you do - does not help in any shape way or form!


                Time to break out the organazational charts. The ones that show the CO, the COR, the CC, CM?ACM, trainer, leaderships,etc.
                Show the ranking structure to the parents. Then go over the basic responcibilities of each person right down to parents, their involvement and expectations.

                Sounds like they do not know the difference between the ACM, CM and DL. Maybe they see the DL as the Entire working part of the pack.

                Also, this is an awesome time to recruit some parents who want to do more or be in charge of something. Build up your committee, ask/ designate people to chair PWD, B&G, Service, Christmas Party, Advancement, Camping chairs.

                Just realize, the most important thing is this: You have a problem. Ignoring it, or waiting it out won't wait. Adress it now, but adress it personally with the help of your CM, CC and the DL in question.

                Oh, by the way, there is nothing wrong with the parents asking their kids be in a den together. Most kids gravatate towards their own friends, familiar faces and people they are comfortable with. If the kids are not comfortable or happy in their den...for whatever reason...then you will lose those kids. The parentrs might have had a little better tact in expressing it, but the idea behind it legit and a sound idea.


                • #9
                  This year we added 5 more boys to the den and it was discided by myself, the cubmaster and the Charter Rep to split the den.

                  Feedback is a gift.

                  I did not see anything in your post where CM/CC/DL got the parents together when leadership identified the problem.

                  Communication helps! Communication ahead of the problem, not announcements of "we've solved the problem for you, and here's what you need to do."

                  No, the person who needs to be communicating now is the COR. As Scoutfish recommended, get the parents and the kids together for a meeting. Take the kids offline and give them good program and fun. Meanwhile, bring the COR on stage, and let him be the heavy.

                  Will some of the parents walk? Probably. Be gracious about it, and help them if they choose to transition to a new unit.

                  BTW, ScoutNut is right about the standard of Cub Scouting, even in the New Delivery Method era. If you decide to have a strength of wastewater streams contest about who signs for Bobby Bear, leadership will lose.


                  • #10
                    Well I did not get into all the facts of the story but yes we did sit down and discuss it with the parents and they all said they wanted to stay together as one den. However the adults support was not there and the kids were distroying the den leaders house. The den was moved to a church fellowship hall but still 16 boys is alot to handle. When we talked with the parent about the issues of the den being to large and a split needed to be made, all the parents of the Private school all said they would drop out if we split them up. I understand boys wanting to be together but adults acting like children is nuts. We ended up with 10 boys in one den and 5 in another. The first meeting is Friday. My next goal is getting one of those parents to step up as leader.


                    • #11
                      As far as den size, well, You have a Cub Scout Leader Book?

                      THis book will back you up when you tell the parents that a den of 10 boys is pretty much the upper limit. Yeah, so and so may have had 15 boys, but those boys may have been better behaived.

                      Tell the parents that somebody needs to step up to fill in a ADL position..and not just title only.

                      There is no maximum limit to the nuber of ADL's you have either( within reason).

                      If the parenst refuse, tell them they can look for another pack.

                      Bigger picture: The welfare of the ENTIRE PACK trumps the welfare of ONE DEN


                      • #12
                        ScoutNut- Well I asked him why he didn't just tell the parents to come talk directly to me if they had a issue and his response was he didn't think about it. I told him that if he would have gone that it would have squashed allot of the back stabbingand junk. He agreed and said he would be going that route in the future. He said he was trying to defend me which I told him I appreciated but he should have just sent them my way.


                        • #13
                          ScoutNut- Well I asked him why he didn't just tell the parents to come talk directly to me if they had a issue and his response was he didn't think about it. I told him that if he would have gone that it would have squashed allot of the back stabbingand junk. He agreed and said he would be going that route in the future. He said he was trying to defend me which I told him I appreciated but he should have just sent them my way.


                          • #14
                            Scoutfish- well it was explained to them that the size of a den should be 8 max. These are the types of parents that like to complain but not step up to help. No one wanted to step up and assist. It was all a big mess. We finally concluded that we can not spend out time trying to make these people happy it takes away from time spent working on Pack programs so if they quit they quite. No more listening to threats


                            • #15
                              You have parents complaining about petty stuff and you have parents doing things that defy common sense (the alcohol & scouting events). I have little sympathy for these parents if the facts are as you describe. And yes, we can quibble about the belt loop questions (which I have no problem with--it shows interest and engagement on the part of the DL) and whether the den split could have been handled differently, but what ever happened to a little bit of respect--even, dare I say, deference?--for you and the other people who give freely of their time when others do not.

                              But most important, again, this stuff is all water over the dam. The dens are split. The cubmobile derby is over. Move forward. Your DL should handle the den he wants to handle and "someone" has to step up to run the other den.

                              The leaders have to do what makes them comfortable because if they're not happy with things, they are not going to have the positive attitude needed to to run a quality program, and that does a disservice to everyone.