Jump to content
Eagle94-A1

Dealing with Helicopter Parents

Recommended Posts

So I ran into an old friend today who is also involved in Scouting. Sounds like he is having similar issues with helicopter parents like my troop is having, except worse.

 

He said One helicopter in his troop has caused a long time Scouter to quit as he cannot take the hovering and passive aggressiveness.

 

Parents also  keep thinking it's all about the bling and pushing advancement. Another helicopter  organized a Radio MB and JOTA weekened without consulting with any other adults in the troop the week before a scheduled camp out., A third helicopter was whining that her son coudn't do the Radio MB and JOTA, and wanted to know how to go about getting a MBC and doing it locally with 2 weeks notice! Then the mom tried to say it wasn't fair that her son couldn't meet xyz requirements for Citizenship in the World since he couldn't do JOTA.

 

Finally, the helicopters complained that they had to a camp fee for a campout and they didn't know anything about it. That has been mentioned for 2 months now, all the Scouts knew about it, and it event guidebook was posted on the troop's facebook page.

 

It's to the point that my is thinking of quitting and going to another troop.

 

So what are some ideas to help my buddy, and if my troop keeps it up then  me too, out?

 

I talked to him about coming up with activities for the adults to do to keep them out of the Scouts' hair.

 

I talked about having 2 experienced Scouters herding the new adults.

 

I talked about 300' rule.

 

I mentioned I am thinking about going back to Webelos after my youngest crosses over, and work on truly transitioning the Webelos dens from our pack into the troop.

 

I did not mentioning one-on-one mentoring, but have seen that done. Need to email him that one.

 

Another thing I know my troop growing up did was new volunteers were in a committee member role for 1 year minimum, and longer if they didn't complete the required training for an ASM. Again need to mention it to him.

 

So, what are some of the things you've done or seen do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a helicopter parent in my troop - but no where as big as a issue you have. Parent writes down all the requirements he needs signed off, writes down all the work for the requirement. I believe he’s Second Class.

 

We know she (the mom) does all the work, and she has two sons in the troop. She’s even filling out her older sons Eagle Scout workbook (and basically did his whole project)! She even comes and disrupts every meeting..

 

Then, when the adults tell her not to, guess what, she keeps on doing it.

 

We made it clear we won’t sign off on requirements if he doesn’t do/wrote it. His handwriting is to bad apparently.

 

Wish you luck with your troop.

Edited by ItsBrian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More moms have this problem than dads. I think the only way to keep your sanity in these situations is to spread the load. The more people that understand this the better. It starts with a class on how scouts is different from cubs. They also have to understand that the aim of scouting (the parents' goals) are not the same as the methods (the scouts' goals). Then when they complain about their son not being able to do some advancement someone should respond with "wow, too bad, but I don't really care if your son gets eagle or not. What I do care about is whether he learns how to make his own decisions and solve his own problems. Since I'm talking to you and not your son, apparently he's not doing what I'd like him to do. This is a problem. How are we going to fix that?" One of 3 things will happen after this. Mom will get mad and take her son to another troop. Mom will get mad and quietly disappear and not bother you anymore. Mom will say "oh, I didn't realize that." It might actually take a few rounds of this but you get the idea. All of these outcomes solve your immediate problem.

 

You may think it'll be better at another troop but I doubt it. There are only a small number of parents like this but they make enough noise to sound like all the parents.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back in the day (here he goes), new scouts (and their families) who did not adapt to the program within a couple of months were dropped at recharter. We also had a smaller adult footprint in the program, just a SM, ASM, and 3 to 5 on Troop Committee but that footprint could be felt on an adult's backside if he/she interfered with the program. Troop adult leaders had the backing of CO and Neighborhood Commissioner.

 

No "confrontation avoidance" back then, no wonder the term "helicopter parent" did not exist.

 

My $0.02

Edited by RememberSchiff
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a few helicopters and bulldozers in out Troop. I am pretty up front with them about the fact that this isn't their journey. If they email me, I will generally email the kid and cc the parent. I address most mass emails to the Scouts, not the parents. If a parent asks for Merit Badge info, I tell them point blank that I need to have that conversation with the Scout. If they want to be involved, and we hope that they do, we need them working for the good of the Troop, not just their own kid. I have one dad with a 17 year old Life Scout that is on the edge of being able to earn his Eagle Scout. This guy pushes back on us so hard that I actually created a very specific plan for his kid (he is heavily involved in a specific sport, and I think he has some attention deficit issues, but that has never been explicitly mentioned to me), with attendance goals for meetings and outings that are on the lowest end of what I and our Troop Committee think are appropriate percentages. I really don't like this guy very much. He is the only parent in the Troop who rubs me the wrong way, and I know that he is really putting the spurs to this kid which isn't getting him any ground with me either. I am pretty sure he and I will face off soon, since the Scout isn't quite living up to the expectations that he agreed to. I also have a 6-pack of 11th graders that could, at this point in their Scouting lives, be on the cusp of Eagle. Instead, they shirk responsibilities and are not the role model to the younger boys that I feel they should be. I have had a few conversations with them- sometimes singly, sometimes in a group. I have explained to them that the path to Eagle is not supposed to be easy, and that being an Eagle Scout requires them to be the living embodiment of the Scout Oath and Law. Anything less tarnishes the Rank. Our Troop is in an affluent suburban town, and most of these boys, unfortunately, have had all the advantages simply handed to them, without needing to be responsible to anyone for any of it. Mom and Dad are quick to pull out the checkbook or write the email, but apparently loathe to raise responsible young adults.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know of, or we have been lucky to not have the extreme examples but every year we have several orientation meetings for the incoming parents where we clearly spell out how the troop works conducted by the various committee chairs and scoutmasters. we clearly spell out how advancement/scheduling/campouts/meetings/etc are conducted and what we expect of our parents as well as how they can contribute and participate.  and in the end, the current adult leadership is very steadfast in how we want the troop (boy led/patrol method) to be.  We pushback hard against parents who can't seem to get it.  i.e. I am advancement chair and I just ignore or slow roll the couple of hyper aggressive parents when it comes to getting their kid signed off or blue cards completed.  I also know I have full support of CC and SM in that.  eventually they realize the only way their kid is getting something signed is if he actually did it and goes thru the proper procedure.  or they leave the troop.

 

Now as I have gotten older and/or dealt with more and more actually serious issues in my career my tolerance for silly crap has decreased, particularly from other adults and their kids.  I really have zero problem telling another adult they are wrong, they are not going to get their way, they don't rate an exception or extraordinary effort from meor any other adult troop leader. 

 

Now there is very little I will not do or an effort I will not make for a boy who is polite/respectful and is doing their best, particularly to overcome circumstances outside of their control or obstacles not of their making--regardless of what kind of doofus their parents may be.

Edited by wdfa89

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen tons of posts on this board about the bane of "helicopter parents" and I've always thought that the level of animosity directed at this parents is a bit overkill. 

 

If I were an outsider (unfamiliar with the BSA) looking in at this, my first reaction would be "why are boy scout leaders so intent on separating boys from their parents and why are they so secretive and defensive?"

 

I also realize that while the phenomenon of "helicopter parents" is not solely unique to scouting. Scout leaders seem to have the most animosity and anger over the topic of involved parents.

 

When I read between the lines of many of these posts on how awful helicopter parents are, the overarching theme, and wish, of many scouters appears to be that parents should just stay out of scouting altogether...they should just pay their sons dues and registration fees, get them to the meetings and camp outs but otherwise never ask questions and never question the decisions of the scout leaders.

 

This extremely rigid, "back off" approach will only lead to contention between scout leaders and parents. 

 

Let's be honest. Not every scoutmaster and scout leader is a saint. To say that favoritism and preferential treatment from scout leaders, simply doesn't exist at all in any troops, would be wishful thinking. There are times when parents have every right to be concerned and to ask questions about their sons' participation in scouting.

 

I think it's also important to draw the distinction between concerned parents and helicopter parents. I would wager, and have no doubt that there are, overzealous scouters who automatically label any parent who may have any kind of dissenting view or disagreement over something as a meddlesome "helicopter parent."

 

Ultimately I think it's very important to consider where parents are coming from. Fostering communication and educating parents in a sincere - not backhanded way - of how the BSA program works and showing that you genuinely welcome their input and do want to hear about their concerns will go a long way towards building trust.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have one dad with a 17 year old Life Scout that is on the edge of being able to earn his Eagle Scout. This guy pushes back on us so hard that I actually created a very specific plan for his kid (he is heavily involved in a specific sport, and I think he has some attention deficit issues, but that has never been explicitly mentioned to me), with attendance goals for meetings and outings that are on the lowest end of what I and our Troop Committee think are appropriate percentages. I really don't like this guy very much. He is the only parent in the Troop who rubs me the wrong way, and I know that he is really putting the spurs to this kid which isn't getting him any ground with me either. I am pretty sure he and I will face off soon, since the Scout isn't quite living up to the expectations that he agreed to. 

 

From my reading of what you've shared, a 17 year old scout wants to obtain Eagle. He is working towards that goal and you and the troop committee have put a plan in place as to what level of participation he must maintain to achieve that. 

 

The father appears to be very concerned about whether or not his son will achieve the rank. As the clock is ticking towards his 18th birthday, I can certainly appreciate his concern.

 

You state that you don't like the father and you expect that soon you and he will "face off soon." Is it possible that some of this animosity towards the father is being directed at the scout and his efforts towards earning Eagle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SSF you make good points and obviously every situation is different.  For me, I don't want to discourage parental involvement--it is in fact necessary and we take every opportunity that comes to take really involved parents and get them to sign up as leaders or committee members.  I am only talking about the parents who try and steamroll thru the procedures (not that we are slaves to a checklist) that the rest of the boys follow or parents who hand carry the blue cards or scout books thru the signature process on behalf of their son for example.  Any parent who wants to set up an event is fine by me.  But I kind of gotta feel like the kid is actually doing the stuff and the kid is driving the train (factoring in we all, me included, push or have pushed our kids a little bit)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My friend's parents were like this during the time we were in Scouts. Oddly enough his parents were not helicopter-like in everything he did, just scouts. And it wasn’t because they didn’t understand Scouting it was because Eagle was the goal and they wanted him to get it. This guy was a straight A student and perfectly capable of managing his own way but his parents kept managing scouts for him so he let them. He didn’t want to deal with his parents and trying to take back control. He tried once to have the Scoutmaster talk to them, which he did, but the effect only lasted a month or so. Kids will pick up the ball but they won’t fight too hard for it if parents refuse to let it go. When he got eagle he pinned the medal on his mom at the ceremony as a joke. We laughed but she didn’t.

Edited by Back Pack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my reading of what you've shared, a 17 year old scout wants to obtain Eagle. He is working towards that goal and you and the troop committee have put a plan in place as to what level of participation he must maintain to achieve that. 

 

The father appears to be very concerned about whether or not his son will achieve the rank. As the clock is ticking towards his 18th birthday, I can certainly appreciate his concern.

 

You state that you don't like the father and you expect that soon you and he will "face off soon." Is it possible that some of this animosity towards the father is being directed at the scout and his efforts towards earning Eagle.

 

 

Actually, I am very much in the Scout's corner, and would love to see him earn his Eagle. But, it has to be HIM doing the work, and not the father. My issues with dad are purely based on his pushy behavior regarding his son's advancement and his acting as if his family is above the rules that apply to every other Scout and parent involved in the Troop. The Scout's older brother earned his Eagle just before he turned 18, with a lot of pressure exerted on the Troop by his father. The younger brother was, at the time, completely checked out on being in the Troop. He wasn't around all that much, and when he was present, he was disruptive during Troop meetings, and not all that much help to his Patrol during camping trips that he bothered to show up for. He has done a pretty amazing about face, and he and I have spoken often about the plan that my ASM and I created for him (which he seems thankful for). That being said, he missed all but 5 hours of our last camping trip (he had an athletic event that overlapped most of it). He never checked in with the SPL or any adult when he showed up, and left without any notice either- not even a text message from a parent saying that he had been dropped off/picked up. We were at a District Camporee, and were all watching a movie outdoors adjacent to our campsites. He is late for every Troop meeting due to practice, and often leaves early for a tutor that is apparently only available the night that the Troop meets. I can make all the plans in the world, but if dad is involved, it becomes about what the bare minimum he can do is, or how many phone calls he can make and emails he can write on the Scout's behalf to complete the checklist. The Scout is smart and engaging. I have seen a huge leap in his maturity over recent months, and counter to the younger, pain in the backside version of himself that used to wander into our meeting place, he appears to want to earn Eagle. But every time he fails to show up for a meeting or other Troop event is one step closer to me having the conversation with him that he is getting really low on runway. If he reaches critical mass, I can only imagine what the interaction with dad will be like.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, I am very much in the Scout's corner, and would love to see him earn his Eagle. But, it has to be HIM doing the work, and not the father. My issues with dad are purely based on his pushy behavior regarding his son's advancement and his acting as if his family is above the rules that apply to every other Scout and parent involved in the Troop. The Scout's older brother earned his Eagle just before he turned 18, with a lot of pressure exerted on the Troop by his father. The younger brother was, at the time, completely checked out on being in the Troop. He wasn't around all that much, and when he was present, he was disruptive during Troop meetings, and not all that much help to his Patrol during camping trips that he bothered to show up for. He has done a pretty amazing about face, and he and I have spoken often about the plan that my ASM and I created for him (which he seems thankful for). That being said, he missed all but 5 hours of our last camping trip (he had an athletic event that overlapped most of it). He never checked in with the SPL or any adult when he showed up, and left without any notice either- not even a text message from a parent saying that he had been dropped off/picked up. We were at a District Camporee, and were all watching a movie outdoors adjacent to our campsites. He is late for every Troop meeting due to practice, and often leaves early for a tutor that is apparently only available the night that the Troop meets. I can make all the plans in the world, but if dad is involved, it becomes about what the bare minimum he can do is, or how many phone calls he can make and emails he can write on the Scout's behalf to complete the checklist. The Scout is smart and engaging. I have seen a huge leap in his maturity over recent months, and counter to the younger, pain in the backside version of himself that used to wander into our meeting place, he appears to want to earn Eagle. But every time he fails to show up for a meeting or other Troop event is one step closer to me having the conversation with him that he is getting really low on runway. If he reaches critical mass, I can only imagine what the interaction with dad will be like.

 

No judgement intended whatsoever and I readily admit that there are certainly parents out there who do try to steamroll through everything and do cross the line between supporting their sons and doing the work for them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also realize that while the phenomenon of "helicopter parents" is not solely unique to scouting. Scout leaders seem to have the most animosity and anger over the topic of involved parents.

 

I don't know about "anger" and "animosity" but I can tell you that the average college or university administrator is probably at least as "fed up" with "helicopter parents" as some Scout leaders are.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know about "anger" and "animosity" but I can tell you that the average college or university administrator is probably at least as "fed up" with "helicopter parents" as some Scout leaders are.

I've heard of plenty of sports coaches that also have problems with some parents. "Why isn't my son first string?" "Why don't you play him more?"

 

Again, it's only a few parents but they make a lot of noise. I had between 100 and 150 scouts during my tenure as SM and something like a half dozen of their parents were really obnoxious. There were a lot that learned, many that thanked me, and probably some that left.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More moms have this problem than dads. I think the only way to keep your sanity in these situations is to spread the load. The more people that understand this the better. It starts with a class on how scouts is different from cubs. They also have to understand that the aim of scouting (the parents' goals) are not the same as the methods (the scouts' goals). Then when they complain about their son not being able to do some advancement someone should respond with "wow, too bad, but I don't really care if your son gets eagle or not. What I do care about is whether he learns how to make his own decisions and solve his own problems. Since I'm talking to you and not your son, apparently he's not doing what I'd like him to do. This is a problem. How are we going to fix that?" One of 3 things will happen after this. Mom will get mad and take her son to another troop. Mom will get mad and quietly disappear and not bother you anymore. Mom will say "oh, I didn't realize that." It might actually take a few rounds of this but you get the idea. All of these outcomes solve your immediate problem.

 

You may think it'll be better at another troop but I doubt it. There are only a small number of parents like this but they make enough noise to sound like all the parents.

I would disagree with this.  I have way more issues with Helicopter dads than moms.  The Dads are trying to get Eagle.  I have banned a couple for camping with us for a few times while their son adjusts to camping without them.   The boys do great and have a great time.  Dad just glared at me at first but then realized why I was doing it after the 4 months.  

 

We have a scouting contract for scouts and adults in our troop.  The Adults look at me wierd at first, but then they realize we have their son's best interest in mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×