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meschen

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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.

 

Well said.

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I have to agree that I really liked David's answer.

 

That said - there is probably more going on here than a simple complaint about advancment.  As a leader, it would be my responsibility to meet the parent and understand the real issues.  Yes, there should be a neutral(ish) third person, an ASM or CC sound ideal. As a parent, if the leader blew me off (even if I was in the wrong) that would set of my red-flag warning bells.

 

I might wait on bringing the Scout in to the discussion, because, as many of the responses here indicate, this sounds like it is really about educating the parent on boy led scouting, and letting the scout control their own destiny - this is a discussion that in essence, could embarass the parent in front of their child.  We would not have a similar discussion with a youth member that was designed to embarass them in front of others, so let's extend the same courtesy to the parent - who may also need some learning.

 

Now, if the discussion lends itself to doing so, then maybe the Scout is nearby and can be brought in to join the dicussion, or to get their perspective on if there really is even a problem to begin with.

Edited by gumbymaster

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Does this parent question every ball or strike at their kid's game?

 

Do they review and question every grade they get in school and set up meeting with the teacher?

 

Do they go to every employer and ask whey their kid didn't get the job?

 

I think @@Stosh has the right approach. Have the meeting. Make it short. Have the scout there. Direct the questions through the scout and let *him* answer his mom's questions. If he doesn't know then help the scout explain.

 

Mom needs to be respectful of the SM's time. 45 scouts x 1 hour meetings is a full time job if everyone wanted one. There are limits to the one hour a week we can give to volunteering. ;)

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The parents of a 6th grade middle school student don't have to make a special request for parent/ teacher conference.  We have two P/T conference days scheduled every year.  

 

Perhaps we should extend the analogy made by SlowDerbyRacer and schedule P/SM conference days for first year scouts?

 

Over the years, I have had some interesting conversations at parent meetings, in both school and Scouting.  Some are serious and some are funny.

 

You might be surprised how often, back in the days when boys took group showers, parents would ask me if their son had begun puberty. 

 

At one P/T conference, a mother asked me how to make pancakes.  

 

You just never know what you're going to be asked.  Do I consider it a waste of time?  Not at all.  I enjoy it.

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I can see a scheduled SMC with the parent as a good thing for first year scouts.  I find that parents who are concerned about issues their son may have are also involved in the troop in other ways so that regular contact with the SM, SPL and PL occur on an ongoing basis.

 

If an uninvolved parent called me out of the blue with such a request, red flags would fly.

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Does this parent question every ball or strike at their kid's game?

 

Do they review and question every grade they get in school and set up meeting with the teacher?

 

Do they go to every employer and ask whey their kid didn't get the job?

 

I think @@Stosh has the right approach. Have the meeting. Make it short. Have the scout there. Direct the questions through the scout and let *him* answer his mom's questions. If he doesn't know then help the scout explain.

 

Mom needs to be respectful of the SM's time. 45 scouts x 1 hour meetings is a full time job if everyone wanted one. There are limits to the one hour a week we can give to volunteering. ;)

 

Do parents sign their kids up for baseball camp, take them to the batting cages, go out and run with them to get them in shape?  Do parents go out an buy sleeping bags, tents and hiking boots for their kids?  

 

Do parents look at their kids homework to make sure it looks right?  Do parents see their kids grades and ask their child about them?

 

Do parents look over cover letters and resumes and make suggestions?  Do parents tell their children to forward a resume to one of their friends who may know someone?

 

I wonder if the different responses in this thread reflect which of us are parents and which of us have kids well beyond scout age?

 

I've talked to a lot of parents about the advancement process.  It is confusing.  Also, it is sometimes difficult for a new scout to do what they need to do.  I suspect that everyone here has a different sign off process.  Heck, I"m not sure what our troop's sign off process is -- I think any scout that is First Class can sign off but we encourage boys to have the Troop guide that is in their patrol sign off and if they aren't around have the PL or APL sign off.  That covers everything except for Scout Spirt, SM conference and BOR.  There also are a lot of questions about merit badges.  The process is different for summer camp, Troop run merit badges, outside merit badge classes (some groups in our area run great full day classes for a single merit badge) and merit badges where the person works with a counselor.  

 

The bottom line is that parents want to understand the process so that they can "mentor" "coach" "encourage" or "parent" their kids.  The jump from adult led Cub Scouts to boy led Boy Scouts is not a cliff, but an incline.  You take the transition one step at a time.  I have no problem with a parent reminding their son  to bring their book to the meeting so something can be signed off or reminding them to e-mail Mr. Hedgehog and ask if they can come over to finish up the cooking merit badge.  Even with my own son (8th grade and Star), I still mention to him things he needs to follow-up on ("hey, make sure you come up with a route for the 50 mile bike ride and let's see if we can get in a couple of warm up rides before we do that"; "hey, I forwarded the e-mail with the District Camporee information -- take a look at it and see if that is something you guys might want to do"; "hey, you should finish up the work on Sustainability and Citizenship before school starts"; "hey, don't forget to take out the trash, feed the dog, practice your trombone, make your bed, clean up the piles of gear in the basement, brush your teeth, wash behind your ears...").  We are parents... that is what we do.

 

But here is the silver lining.  I think that all parents WANT their kids to learn independence and responsibility.  Every parent I've talked to understands that scouting teaches responsibility -- first for themselves and then for others.  They understand that scouting provides a safe place for their children to falter and fail.  I've seen the looks in the eyes of moms when their 6th grade sons are responsible for cooking for their patrol and the release of tension when I joke "we've never had any scout die of starvation on a campout" and then explain "the older boys are great at helping out and showing them how to do things."  I've seen the looks in moms eyes when they turn their 12 year old sons over to me for a 6 day 50 mile backpacking trek and how it changes when I give the kid a high five and ask "you ready to do this?"  I've seen the look of moms when they pick up their son's after the first campout and nervously ask "how did it go" and how that look changes when their son breaks out into the biggest grin and says "it was awesome!"  I've seen the nervous smiles of moms when they arrive at summer camp and joke with me "it would be really bad if I ran over to my son and hugged and kissed him during the flag ceremony, wouldn't it?

 

Our children are precious to us.  They are our life's work.  The only question the parents need answered is "can we trust you to do right by my child?"  It may take a smile and a joke, it may take an hour. 

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I wonder if the different responses in this thread reflect which of us are parents and which of us have kids well beyond scout age?

 

 

For me, it's both.   Two grown and gone and one still at home, in a venture crew.

 

My philosophy for their collective activities has been:   Meet/greet their leaders at the beginning.  Figure out my role as a parent.   Then get out of the way.   I let their coaches coach, and their scout leaders lead.   For good or ill.

 

All three kids have had a wide range of teachers, coaches, scout leaders, and youth ministers, ranging from outstanding to awful.   I keep tabs on how things are going by talking with the kid.   I only step in if things are really, really screwed up.   Like life or limb.

 

I taught my kids that their success is dependent on their ability to listen, figure out problems, and learn to work with/for difficult adults and scouts.   There have been some tough moments when there has been injustice, inefficiency, etc, that I sorely wished to step in and say "what the....?"   But I didn't.  I love my kids but I did not/cannot resolve every injustice they face in life.   They have to figure some things out for themselves, be resilient, stay with the program, press forward, turn the page.

 

If I had to speak to a coach/leader/etc., it was always just a few minute chat in private.  I respect their time, and they need the space and flexibility to lead without committee of parents questioning every little thing they do.

 

I'm involved, and support the crew, team, teachers, etc.   But only to a point.   When my kids turned 18 and left the house, I wasn't going along to sweep their path.   They learned to do that years earlier.

 

So back to the case at hand.   Two thoughts to clarify:

 

1.  There is a big difference between a curious new parent and a parent who just loves to chew out the SM.  I knew the difference between the two.   The new parents and I would chat, the parents said "aha" and then let their scout proceed down the scouting trail.   On the other hand, during my ASM/SM days, there was a Greek chorus of shrill moms that just lived to loudly pounce on the scout leaders for every reason.   An hour long meeting is just what they wanted...not to understand, but to endless criticize and harp on ever little thing that happened to Johnny, real or perceived.   That was their MO in life, and I had to set boundaries with them.

 

2.  The trail to Eagle is a solo one.   Yes, there are parents and scouters and peers that assist Johnny along the way.   But Johnny has to climb the trail himself.   He has to fall and sprain his ankle.   Take side trails that are fruitless.  Sit and shoot the breeze while the clock ticks and others pass him by.  But in all instances, Johnny must be the one to solve the problem, pick himself up, and continue.  Wherever he finishes, it will be HIS accomplishment, something he earned.  

 

PS  The scouts are smarter than we give them credit for.   If Johnny wants to advance, he'll figure it out.   If he's confused, he can ask his PL.  He's not a cub any more.   He's a scout.   Those first years he'll waste time not advancing, eat cold oatmeal seasoned with ash from the campfire, sleep in a poncho because he forgot his sleeping bag, leave his canteen behind at the last rest stop, etc.   All part of the plan.    They catch on quick if they are allowed a safe environment to fail.

Edited by desertrat77
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1.  There is a big difference between a curious new parent and a parent who just loves to chew out the SM.  The new parents and I would chat, the parents said "aha" and then let their scout proceed down the scouting trail.   On the other hand, during my ASM/SM days, there was a Greek chorus of shrill moms that just lived to loudly pounce on the scout leaders for every reason.   An hour long meeting is just what they wanted...not to understand, but to endless criticize and harp on ever little thing that happened to Johnny, real or perceived.   That was their MO in life, and I had to set boundaries with them.

 

 

Gerbil nailed it.  I had one mom who was awful.  Her first son was a great self-motivated model Eagle.  Second son was "Mom wants me to do this..."  SM JoeBob: "What do do you  want to do?"  Finally moved him to another troop after I refused to be bullied.

 

1- What issues can't be addressed on the phone or via eMail?

2- If you want to pay for an hour of my time without your boy present, bring your credit card to the local pub.

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@@Hedgehog email is a fine tool to begin that discovery if someone needs guidance.

 

The OP seemed to be almost demanding a meeting. Unless there is a serious issue to be addressed, the tone of the request is not only off-putting, but disrespectful.

 

At a minimum the parent could show more consideration of the SM's time, present the issue via email or a phone call, get the input from the SM and then if there is reason to follow up in person, do so.

 

This high touch, me first, listen to me attitude is a direct contradiction to what scouting is about.

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I thought the OP sounded neutral.  This seems to be the Scouter version of an ink blot test.  

 

Today's parents are of the same generation as my former students and scouts.  A few actually are my former students and scouts.  We share a history together.  

 

I loved these people when they were kids.  I'm still very fond of them.  I really like these parents.

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I thought the OP sounded neutral.  This seems to be the Scouter version of an ink blot test.  

 

Today's parents are of the same generation as my former students and scouts.  A few actually are my former students and scouts.  We share a history together.  

 

I loved these people when they were kids.  I'm still very fond of them.  I really like these parents.

 

Neutral?  No way.  Exclamation point in the subject and the sigh after the parent pushback say he clearly has a position/opinion.  Granted I'll give you neutral if you're just talking about his (apparent) willingness to still meet with them.

 

I like the inkblot reference!

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An hour is neutral? Pushing back from the SM saying "Have Junior come to me and I will explain it to him" is neutral?

 

How many parents call the school to arrange a meeting with their kid's teacher when Junior misses several answers on a test? Isn't that Junior's job to follow up? Even in 6th grade?

 

An hour is overkill. The request is silly. Why not handle via email and be done with it? It's inconsiderate.

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It's true, we are products of our upbringing and environment.

 

If I measured the total amount of time my parents talked to my six different SMs, four different troops (we were a military family), added up, it might equal one hour.   Probably less.   From when I was 11 till I turned 18.

 

The conversations went like this:  "How are you doing?"  "Great."   "Need help driving to the camporee?"  "Yes, we need someone with a truck."  "Okay, you got it."   "Thanks."  The end.   Parents drive away, Johnny joins his patrol, SPL gives direction to the PLs, SM watches and listens from afar.

 

That went for other scouts too, unless there was a major issue, such misbehavior that might result in legal issues or expulsion from the troop.   That meeting might have lasted a hour.   But certainly not a demanded sit-down about administrative issues with Johnny's handbook.

 

The Disgruntled Mom/Dad Club will steal your time and sanity.   I wasn't rude or unprofessional with them, but  firm boundaries had to be set.

 

After everyone left, and I went home, a nice cold beer sure seemed to make things better.

Edited by desertrat77
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Actually, it is very common for sixth grade parents to request P/T conferences this time of year, mid-September, for seemingly trivial matters.

 

It is sometimes called "nipping it in the bud" or "the broken glass theory."  We don't wait for small issues to become major problems.

 

Sixth grade is the start of middle school.  It is a big change for kids.  They exchange classrooms and have a different teacher for every class.

 

Some students have a difficult time making the transition.  At our parent orientation, we encourage parents to contact the teacher immediately if they notice a change in mood, study habits, or academic performance.  

 

I would also note that Catholic school teachers have a lot more contact with the parents.  Our schools are very parent friendly.  

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