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meschen

Parents!

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Wow!  I am really surprised by some of the responses here.

 

I really enjoy meeting and chatting with parents.  I do it regularly, as a part of my job, so it no big deal for me.  I don't, in any way, resent parents asking for a meeting.

 

As a teacher, I had 3 or 4 parent/teacher conferences requested every week.  They usually ran from a half-hour to an hour.  Although I might have needed to negotiate a little bit on the time and place of the conferences, in order to fit my schedule,  I never refused to meet with a concerned parent.

 

As a Scoutmaster, I may have had 3 or 4 per month.  I felt that all the unnecessary paper work and nonsense district meetings wasted a lot more of my time than parent meetings. 

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I disagree.

 

If parents asks for an hour long, one-on-one, face-to-face meeting with me, they got it.  No preconditions.

 

By the end of the meeting, I will have my way on advancement, and the parents will discover that they have "volunteered" for something.

God help any parent that wants to talk with me about Scouting for an hour. I'm in college, I have the spare time, and I love to talk Scouting...

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I'm with David CO on this, and I'm often surprised at the outright scorn that some in this forum heap upon "parents" as if any of us aren't or weren't or didn't get involved or stay involved in scouting because we are in fact "parents".

 

Nothing that the OP relates gives any indication of where this parent wants the conversation to go, or if there's a problem what the problem is.

 

I am always willing to meet with a scout's parents.  I am always grateful for the opportunity that parents give me to pursue what I love --- helping the development of my scouts.  And I remind myself all the time that parents entrust me with that which is usually more precious to them than their own lives, their children.  We try to have some influence of the kids that parents entrust us with, but we need to remember with humility that we are partners, very junior partners, with the scout's actual parents.  

 

If we really want the program to work as it should and serve the scouts as it should than we need parents to understand the program, believe in it, and to the best of their and our ability reinforce it.  The better educated your parents are about how you believe the program should work for their scouts the better chance you have that it actually will work.

 

I know that I don't know everything: about the program, about scouts, and about my individual scouts, and I'm willing to at least to listen on the chance that I might learn something about any or all three.

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Let's assume the BSA program is FOR THE BOYS.

 

Let's further assume that the program is designed for the character and moral development of young men.

 

Add to that the assumption the best run programs are boy-led, patrol-method in nature.

 

Then as the last piece of the puzzle, the advancement program of the BSA is to help the boy develop and achieve personal success in his efforts.

 

How then can a SM justify a clandestine meeting behind the scenes between the him/her and the boy's parent?  Shouldn't this type of meeting at least involve the boy in question?  Maybe add to that meeting the PL of the boy and maybe the SPL if necessary?

 

What's going to be be discussed?  Hearsay conversations with no way of confirmation?  What possibly can be decided without the principle players involved?

 

Surely any adult wouldn't want to have the CC and parents talking about them in an off-the-record conversation set up behind the scenes.  I would think the same respect due an adult should be extended to the youth as well.  Lead by example.  

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@@T2Eagle, do you know what referee's do at the end of the game? Walk off the field! They don't arrange conferences to review play calls.

 

A parent is more than welcome to tell me he/she thinks their son met requirement X. Then I will check with the PLs to see if they have any proof of mastery.

 

I never talked to coaches about my kids' play time. (Although recently, maybe because they've all graduated, he's been a little reflective with me.) The only thing I want them to know is if there's stuff happening off the field.

 

Offer the boys gramps' farm and swimming hole to camp on? I'm all ears. That hour we'd spend would do more for EVeRY BOY's sign-offs than you can imagine.

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Excellent posts.  

 

I agree, the path to Eagle is not supposed to be a team event.  It is hiked, or not, by the scout.   If Johnny has advancement issues, it's up to him to resolve them.

 

If a parent needed clarification on how something worked, or wanted to let me know something, I listened politely and offered my best insight.   However, if it wasn't a life/limb situation, or something that required my attention or action as an ASM/SM, we ended the conversation with "well, I know the scouts will figure it out."

 

When a parent wanted to harangue me, at length, about every little care and woe that Johnny Scout was experiencing in the troop (essentially sweeping his path of every twig and pebble), I learned quickly that a) Johnny wasn't upset about anything, it was usually just mom and b) the parent wasn't going to be happy no matter what.  We had several of those parents in our troop. 

 

The parents who complained the most did the least for the troop, and a few thought it was their right to monopolize my time.   I learned to facilitate those conversations to a polite minute or two, and not the lengthy one-way conversation they desired.

 

That said, there were parents who were a delight to talk with, but even then, we kept the conversations short.   They understood that scouting has good days and bad, and it was up to the scouts to resolve their own issues, not the parent, not the SM.

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The parents in the troops that I served were never a bother, in fact they were very supportive.  That being said, I get that things have changed for the worse in the past 20 years.  In this case, I would meet with the parent the first time and hear her concerns.  Then I would "educate" her in the methods of Scouting and explain that advancement is the Scout's responsibility, not mine, not hers.  When he meets the standard, he will be signed off.  Period.  There are no "gimmes", except maybe at MB fairs or summer camp.  I have heard the horror stories of how these "helicopter moms" will even call their "child's" college professor and complain about this and that.  The professors usually refuse to talk to them...and rightly so.  Parents need to cut the umbilical cords.  They are not doing them any favors.

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If we really want the program to work as it should and serve the scouts as it should than we need parents to understand the program, believe in it, and to the best of their and our ability reinforce it.  The better educated your parents are about how you believe the program should work for their scouts the better chance you have that it actually will work.

 

It is worth spending whatever time necessary with a parent to get them to understand and buy into what a boy-led advancement process means and how it operates.  For new crossovers, what is happening in Scouts is happening in school.  What parent wouldn't want their son to be responsible for understanding, tracking and completing their own homework?

 

I've never had any push back from parents when I explain how scouting is about learning responsibility -- first for the scout themselves and then for others.  Explaining to them that I'd be glad to sit down with their son and their patrol leader / patrol guide and have the patrol leader or guide work with their son to come up with a plan to help their son meet their advancement goals. 

 

The bottom line with parents is TRUST.  They need to trust the leaders and the program we provide.  They don't trust us if we blow them off and tell them that its the boy's problem.  The do trust us when we explain that we will work with the boy leaders who will work with their son to make sure their son is getting what they want out of the program.

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I disagree.

 

If parents asks for an hour long, one-on-one, face-to-face meeting with me, they got it.  No preconditions.

 

By the end of the meeting, I will have my way on advancement, and the parents will discover that they have "volunteered" for something.

This is exactly how I did it many times. The tone of the discussion is coming off a little hostile, but it's really about teaching the parents about the troop vision for the scouts and how the program works toward that vision. I can remember one family that chose to join another troop because they realize their vision and ours were different. 

 

Barry

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I agree with DavidCO's approach. There is nothing wrong with having a conversation and trying to turn it into something positive or at least trying to make the parent understand how things work. I think that is part of the SM's (and CC's) job. And just because the parent asked for an hour doesn't mean the conversation has to take an hour. If it is handled as David suggests, the conversation will go where it will, and maybe it will take less than an hour, and maybe it will take more than an hour. At the end of it you could have a new committee member who is helping rather than taking up your time, or you could have a parent pulling her son out of the troop, or anything in between. But that's her choice. All you can do is try.

 

On some of the other comments, could this parent be handling this better? Sure? Should she have expressed her concerns in the email? Should she have been more courteous? Yes and Yes. But she didn't. It is possible that she is not a very nice person. But we don't get to select the parents, we just have to deal with them, courteously, and try to get them to understand how things work.

Edited by NJCubScouter
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The problem could very well be with the troop leaders. I try to use these situations as opportunities to improve myself for the next time. Obviously this parent doesn't have quite the understanding of the program that she should have. What can I do better to help her, and parents like her, have a better understanding of the program, and what can I do to prevent this situation with new parents in the future? Then I make some changes. These situations helped me grow into a better scouter.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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IMHO, it's going to happen.  You are working with their kids.  I'd almost be more annoyed and concerned with parents who dump and run and never show any interest.  

 

Turn it into a positive.  It's a chance for you to get to know the parent and to get the parent on the same page.  Perhaps then, you both can influence the scout the same direction.  Dump immediately jump to assuming the parent is trying to get the sign-off done for the scout.  That very well may not be the case.  they may just be trying to understand a different perspective than what they hear from their own son.  

 

Probably won't take an hour.  Approach it with a smile and an open hand shake.  

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It is no pleasure for the parents, either. 

 

When parents come in for a meeting, they are usually on edge.  A scout leader can easily interpret this as hostility.  It may actually be hostility.  But most often, it simply reflects the parents unease.

 

Also consider that many parents can't write well.  They may be embarrassed to communicate in this form.  They may feel that their writing skills are being judged.

 

Parents have a lot more to lose than you do, and they know it.  

 

Parents don't like to be talked down to or belittled in front of their child.  It is humiliating.  If a parent doesn't want their child present at the meeting, this may be the reason.

 

Keep in mind how many hours it takes you to recruit a new Boy Scout.  Isn't it also worth a little extra effort to retain him?

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It is no pleasure for the parents, either. 

 

When parents come in for a meeting, they are usually on edge.  A scout leader can easily interpret this as hostility.  It may actually be hostility.  But most often, it simply reflects the parents unease.

 

Also consider that many parents can't write well.  They may be embarrassed to communicate in this form.  They may feel that their writing skills are being judged.

 

Parents have a lot more to lose than you do, and they know it.  

 

Parents don't like to be talked down to or belittled in front of their child.  It is humiliating.  If a parent doesn't want their child present at the meeting, this may be the reason.

 

Keep in mind how many hours it takes you to recruit a new Boy Scout.  Isn't it also worth a little extra effort to retain him?

 

Great thoughts.  

 

People are individuals.  So are situations.  Be open and friendly and it should go fine.  :)  

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Let me add a parallel analogy.  You said he's a first year scout right?  That says to me he's a 6th grader.  If this was school, it's completely reasonable for parent teacher conferences to take place. This is a scout equivalent.  As a courtesy and to a degree an obligation, I think you need take the meeting with the parent of the minor child you mentor.

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