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Balance

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I am interesting in hearing how some of the more seasoned Scouters balance their role in Scouting with their role with their son.

 

I find myself wondering if I should spend more time mentoring and encouraging my son through the program and less time helping other boys through the program.

 

JPS

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AS a scouter parent of a scout, I always encourage my son as any parent should do, but I treat him like all the other scouts at troop activities. I don't think the boys want to be singled out by their dad or mom. Being a good scout leader and being involved in his life is enough for him to know you care. Besides, I have witnessed some sons trying to use the fact that their parent is a leader for their own interests. It's best to remain impartial and fair when around the rest of the troop. Don't do anything with your own son that you wouldn't do with another scout.

Doug

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JPS- Interesting question, one I have had to wrestle with myself. I was my Son's Cubmaster and am now the Scoutmaster for his troop. I am an Eagle Scout and had some great experiences as a youth ('77 Jamboree, High adventure trips, etc.) I have finally trained myself to stop saying "this is how I did it" or "this is what we did in my old troop" and substitute with "what do you want to do?" or "how or what does your patrol want to do?". The Scouts (and my Son) develop confidence as they discover and find their own way without us leaders constantly hovering over them waiting to pounce and fix things. Sometimes the result is not pretty (down right messy at times) but it is worth it to see them conquer a problem in their own style. A far as mentoring my Son goes I always take a deep breath and say "slow down". I became an Eagle Scout five days before my 18th birthday and enjoyed every minute of it. I keep telling him that Scouting is not a race (and ultimately, it may not be for him). Nobody is a better Scout because they have more merit badges or acheived a rank at an earlier age than somebody else. I try very hard to let him choose his pace and experiences, i.e if he doesn't want to do it then he doesn't have to (campouts, service projects, meetings, etc.) sometimes it drives me crazy but it is HIS Scouting experience NOT mine.

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Having been a scout leader for several years before my son was even born, I had a lot of time to think about how I would handle things. I never asked my son if you wanted to be a scout or expected him to be one. I did scouting as an adult because I chose to. I wanted my son to make that same choice. So he joined scouts because he was asked at a school cub rally to join. He stays in scouts because he chooses to and he knows that if he quit it would be his decision and that I would continue to be a scouter.

 

On campouts I treat him as I do all other scouts, but I always set aside about 20 minutes where we are just father and son. We both really enjoy those moments. He understands my responsibility to the troop and he knows I take my responsibility to him just as seriously.

 

I never push him to advance. He turned 14 and had 17 meritbadges and was a First Class scout. He worked on the merit badges that interested him and just didn't have enough Eagle requireds in the mix. That was fine with me I figured he'd get them eventually. He is star now and just realized how close to Eagle he is, now that he has all his optional badges done.

 

He has been an APL, Troop Librarian, ASPL, SPL, and Troop Guide, this weekend he is doing his OA ordeal. I offer advice when he asks me as dad or when I see it as the ASM. But away from the meetings we rarely talk scouting, we will only if he brings it up.

 

Don't know if this helps answer your questions but it has worked well for us.

 

Bob White

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The 20 minutes idea is good.

 

I have had to explain to my daughter that I can coach her in Scout stuff at home so at Scouts she is going to be last in line.

 

Also I refuse to sign her off for anything. This is a little unfair because she has one less person to go to than everyone else but I don't want her to be criticised for being favoured.

 

On the other hand she doesn't have to call me Emu. About half call me by first name anyway. I am, will always be he dad - uniforms make no difference to this fact. This is against local norms but it seems a bit artificial otherwise.

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On campouts I treat him as I do all other scouts, but I always set aside about 20 minutes where we are just father and son.

 

My sons are, well - my sons. It would be impossible for me to ignore that fact. That being said, I like Bob's idea. I never planned in advance to set aside a specific amount of time each trip, but I do try to get with my sons for a few moments each trip. Additionally, if circumstances warrant my attention, I will pull my son aside and speak to him as his father. Fortunately, with three sons in the program, combining for about 14 years of experience, I've only had to do this a few times - maybe a half dozen total between the three.

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It can be a hard row to hoe at times. I have had to have these discussions many times, when my son wants me to be Dad.

As for the balance, it was my wife who insisted that I do not be super scouter and allow my son to go on campouts, my first year in Boy Scouts. So now, when I go, I am a ASM first, but find the 20 minutes for my son... and try to make that time available to the other scouts in the troop.

To get my "leadership" in action is why I do CSRT and now really enjoy being the laid back, fun ASM. This balance works for me and when it doesn't, well, that;s when I branch my "leader disease" outwards and run little things like pow wow and camporees ;-}

 

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I'm the SM, and my son's a PL and a 1C Scout. I've been his Cubmaster and committee chair, too, so his Scouting's always had me involved somehow.

 

I like to think that at a troop activity, unless you notice the family resemblance, a casual observer wouldn't know he's mine (unless you hear him call me "Dad"). I expect the SPL to treat him like any other PL (info, deliverables, correction) and not as the SM's son. He has never used the fact that I'm the SM as leverage with any other Scout or adult leader -- that etiquette comes from mom's side, I'm sure.

 

I try desperately to ensure that, despite my role, his experience is no different than any other Scout whose dad isn't the SM. That's not completely possible of course, but I try mightily. After all, I'm the first one at the Scout hut on meeting night, and he's with me, and therefore helping me get things set up. He's at home while I'm doing Scout work, SM conferences, etc, and by virtue of proximity, knows more about what's involved with this than his Scout buddy whose dad isn't the SM.

 

On campouts, he of course wants to maintain that "aloofness" toward me in front of his peers, but we are very close. So, he'll want to talk to me about some topic related to the campout or the next outing. Then, the subject will always change to a father/son thing of his choosing, we'll yak for a while, then he runs off. Or, while hugs at the house are okay, he'd rather chew on aluminum foil than give me one in public, even more so at a Scout activity. But, in some primate way, he still needs/wants that physical contact. So, he'll substitute arm wrestling or a couple shoulder punches for a hug...go figure.

 

I have specifically not gotten involved with OA yet because he hasn't been elected yet (he just got his 15th camping night in July). I got into this do things with him...it would be awkward going to OA and leaving him at home...

 

One thing I have to remind myself constantly is to hold him to the same standard I do all the other Scouts in the Troop, especially regarding Scout Spirit. After all, living the Oath and Law in their daily lives is something I, for the most part, won't know about except for occasional examples, or if I become aware of something exceptional from home, school, church, etc. Except for my son, that is. I know every time he teases his sister, forgets to take out the trash, didn't put his clothes in the hamper, fell asleep at church, and so on. Gotta keep it in perspective.

 

KS

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With two boys in scouting, one 19 plus now, Eagle and other interests adn the other doing his paper work for Eagle, I tried to treat them as the other scouts. I did find myself going to them when there was a situation or problem and I wanted it handled and was not sure of the other scouts that were available. Did not go on the high adventure trips with them, Boundry waters and Philmont. Partially to ensure it was their adventure and not mine to hover over. Not sure if that was good or bad. Dads that did go had mixed experiences. I think your son enjoys having you involved but not too close.

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I am thoroughly impressed and would like to sincerely thank those who have contributed to this thread. Unlike a number of other threads that sometimes degrade into hostile pettiness; causing me to occasionally wonder if I should even continue with the forum, the contributors here show thoughtful reflection on Scouting and service to others balanced by service to family. Thank you for allowing me to be "associated" with such a thoughtful bunch.

 

My sons, both now in the troop that I am Asst. Scoutmaster for, do not expect any special treatment nor do I allow it. As KoreaScouter mentions, they do gain an advantage simply by association, since they assist me with tasks, know first-hand about many things, etc. The also have the advantage of access to me at home. My feeling about this though is that I give freely of my time as a Scouter and will not "disassociate" myself from my sons (and wife who is also actively involved with the troop). This is an advantage they gain because I am willing to give of myself not only for the sake of my own sons, but also other parent's sons.

 

One regret is that when the older son moved into Boy Scouts, I stayed on as a leader with the younger son's Pack. I did not move into a leader role in the troop until the younger one also moved up. To me, while I knew that the older son would do just fine, I felt like I was in a sense picking one over the other. In looking back, I wish that I had done "double duty" if for no other reason than my own personal satisfaction. But the advantage was that there was no conflict for me as mentor vs leader and the older son had already established himself in the troop on his own terms (and did me proud). He has followed in his father's footsteps by attaining Eagle and having recently turned 18, is staying on as an Asst. Scoutmaster. The younger son has also established himself on his own terms and is also knocking on the door of Eagle.

 

With pride I must say that my sons have allowed me to to fulfill my role as a leader for the entire group. But never forget that you can't ignore your own son or place him at a disadvantage because he is your son. Let him come to be on his terms, but don't be afraid to pick him up when he stumbles. Don't be afraid to give him the "advantage" of your knowledge and experiences. And don't forget to have a parent-son relationship during the Scouting experience. I have enjoyed the time spent with my sons and the special relationship established with them through the Scouting program. It has given me a deeper respect for them and who they are, and hopefully vice-versa.

 

Wow, I think I just wrote a book.

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This is a very important topic to me! As the father of 2, one now in the troop and one in the pack, it can sure be a challenge.

 

I became my oldest's den leader when the person who volunteered did not do her job. That was 5 years ago. 3 years ago I was approached to start a troop as an option from the Morman troops and the 1 non-morman, but not boy led troop. I am now the committee chair for that troop, with 4 active boys.

 

Last year I was approached to be the Cubmaster for the pack! So now I am a leader within BOTH troop and pack, so have to be careful of how I am seen by the boys when in my "official" capacities.

 

I have been fortunate that my sons have both found ways to acknowledge me in my position, seperate from being their father. This is probably because I have been "Santa" as long as they have been alive. When my beard became white, I was santa, but after my shower I was "Dad".

 

I do go on campouts, but not every one that happens. When I do, I am both, and my sons know that I expect them to be examples to the other boys. We do talk as father/son, but seperately from the other boys. We often go for walks together if either wants to. My youngest usually does, but my oldest prefers to be with the other scouts.

 

FWIW - I just asked my wife this question, and she said that "You have a wife that pulls you back from being too involved."

 

She is very correct, in my case at least.

 

Keep up the good work. Do not let your sons forget that you love them, and want to be part of their lives.

 

Paul Johnson

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I let my son know that when we are with the scouts he is just another boy, (one I expect alot out of). I think that I didn't hit the right mix with him. He wanted to be just another boy but with me there it was hard to do. He has enjoyed camping with the varsity more than he did with the scout patrols.

 

I have another son about to join the scout patrol he is in the new scout patrol now. I hope that I can get the mix of dad vs scout leader better. I like bob's suggestion of 20 min.

So my suggestion is dad's look for the signs and give your kid more slack than I did.

 

JC

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