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Eagle94-A1

Dealing with Helicopter Parents

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I think that with my sons' Troop, it's going to be a journey of baby steps to help the Troop become more boy oriented and less adult controlled.

 

On the way up to our Thanksgiving spot, I chatted with my husband (an ASM) about the idea of throwing away the bylaws.  His feedback was that -- no one follows the bylaws anyway so don't rock the boat repealing them.  This may be a good suggestion, especially since the bylaws' amendment process is a 2/3 vote at 2 consecutive meetings.  I have been attending parent meetings for a year, but I'm still "new".  Is this the best use of time? 

 

So I asked my husband what he thought of proposing that the Scouts choose their own summer camp destination this year.  He feels that suggestion is more meaningful.  The troop has a deposit with the regular camp but that could possibly be refunded.  The troop committee is imo, very adult run in how they plan outings.  I think that if we can encourage the Scoutmaster to take Scout input (and the committee to back off), that would be a big and meaningful step.  So I will pursue that.  Maybe I will ask the Scoutmaster to have coffee? 

 

My boys like their Troop and it is our local troop.  Another troop in the area is huge, giant, and unappealing because of its size and the other troop that is very nearby does not have a strong outdoor program. 

 

Maybe one bite at a time, the elephant of adult control can get eaten and out of the way. 

Edited by WisconsinMomma

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This may be a good suggestion, especially since the bylaws' amendment process is a 2/3 vote at 2 consecutive meetings.  

 

The IH and COR can change any unit policy without a vote. It might upset some people, but they can do it.

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The IH and COR can change any unit policy without a vote. It might upset some people, but they can do it.

Good to know.  Thank you!   

 

So our chartered organization is a school PTO that seems to be pretty out of the loop, but the PTO co-president has a son in our troop, so she would be the "natural" COR.  Probably need to make that more formal?  We do not have anyone as a COR who attends troop committee meetings at this time. 

 

IH is institutional head, correct?  Would that be the PTO president, or the School principal?  

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IH is institutional head, correct?  Would that be the PTO president, or the School principal?  

 

You would need to check your charter.

 

Every unit must have a designated Institutional Head (IH) and Chartered Organization Representative (COR) listed in the annual rechartering papers. 

 

In my unit, the Athletic Director is the IH, not the principal or the pastor. 

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In BSA charter parlance, the Institution Head is the person that is "in charge" of the Charter Organization.  Church? the Pastor.  Synagogue?  The Rabbi. Volunteer Fire Department?  The President of the Volunteer Corporation.   Hardware store (yep, one of them!) owner of the store.    The CORepresentative is expected to be a "member" of the CO, but need not be a Scout person, no need to have a Scout in the unit.  

Since no Public School can be a Scout Charter Org, the Principal should not be the IH.  If the CO is the PTO, I would expect the PTO prez should be listed as IH.  But then, very often, "whomever" is often listed (often) to get the paper work done for the DE's and Council's convenience and expectation. 

Why anyone would allow themselves to be listed in a position of responsibility and not be aware of it ("my name is WHERE??")  and not be willing to attempt to "do  the job" is beyond me, but COs of "convenience" are not unknown. "Yeah, I like Scouting, where do I sign, don't bother me any more...."  "You said if I signed this, the Scout Unit would be OKAY and I wouldn't have to do anything else.  Why are you bothering me now?"

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Good to know.  So that is the IH and COR, together, can change policy?  

 

I think I need to go read the troop committee guidebook...

Yes, read the guidebook! Things are more nuanced than that. I suspect your COR is only concerned with good people as leaders and the last one out turning off lights and locking the door ... and smiles on the boys faces.

 

I think the "baby step" that your husband agreed upon is a good one to work with, but only if you have at least a patrol of boys itching to try a different camp. We could not convince our boys to pick anything but their spot-by-the-water in week 1 for love nor money. When we merged troops, most of those boys were not going to give up on the camp they had been attending (also in week 1). So, if we are to plan anything for the summer, it's those camps + whatever other adventure scouts plan.

 

By the way, this has nothing to do with how many years you have in the program. It does have to do with building shared vision, and the new person can do that as well as some SM emeritus who comes to the same realizations as you.

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Good to know.  Thank you!   

 

So our chartered organization is a school PTO that seems to be pretty out of the loop, but the PTO co-president has a son in our troop, so she would be the "natural" COR.  Probably need to make that more formal?  We do not have anyone as a COR who attends troop committee meetings at this time. 

 

IH is institutional head, correct?  Would that be the PTO president, or the School principal?  

 

 

Since it is the PTO that is chartering the unit, the IH would be the president of the PTO, not the school principal (unless the principal is the president of the PTO).   Depending on how the PTO is structured, the IH may appoint the COR with either notification to the PTO board, or approval of the PTO board, or the PTO board may approve the COR.  Sometimes the IH will appoint themselves as the COR if they have a particular interest.  

 

 

"So that is the IH and COR, together, can change policy?" - Neither can change the policies of the BSA.  BUT - they can change the "policies/bylaws" of the unit.  And they don't need to do it together.  Ideally the COR has the best interests of the chartering organization in mind when working with the unit and would be in sync with the IH so a decision of the COR is usually enough - the only one that can reverse a COR decision (as long as it is not a change of BSA policy) is the IH.  The COR cannot reverse the decision of the IH.

 

Want to get rid of the bylaws?  Easiest way is to become the COR then contact the Committee Chair and tell them that the units bylaws are no more and that the unit will operate under BSA policies.   Second easiest way?  Convince the existing COR and/or IH that the bylaws need to go.  There is no votes needed by the unit - the IH/COR speaks - it's done.  

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...

Want to get rid of the bylaws?  Easiest way is to become the COR then contact the Committee Chair and tell them that the units bylaws are no more and that the unit will operate under BSA policies.   Second easiest way?  Convince the existing COR and/or IH that the bylaws need to go.  There is no votes needed by the unit - the IH/COR speaks - it's done.  

I just want to put out there that, in units steeped in tradition, this form of "nuclear option" doesn't go over well.

This is especially true if your COR hasn't even dropped in on committee meetings in a while.

If it's his way or the highway, but half the room hits the road, all he gets is a lonely highway and nothing to haul on it.

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I mean no disrespect with the following questions/comments but seeing as you're finishing up Wood Badge, I'm just very curious about some of these:

 

 

  I think that if we're honest, Eagle Scout is part of the dream or part of the opportunity that we hope for for the boys. Spoken very much like a parent - and I hear this all the time, but I have to ask - have your asked your boys what their hopes, dreams and plans for Scouting is?  Have they given you the answer they know you want to hear or have they really given it any thought?  Are they doing this because you want them to do it or because they want to do it?

 

 

Reading stuff about first class in a year freaked me out.   And it was a disservice to have that expectation pushed out there (not by our troop, by online reading) My kids aren't there and it's not a reasonable path.

 

Regarding getting to Eagle Scout and merit badges -- at the ages my kids are, I have signed them up for a few merit badge classes and forced them to go.  They get some choices but not all the choices, so I can and will decide for them, at these ages -- boys, you're going to learn about Electricity or Fire Safety and take a 1/2 day class and earn a merit badge.  Period, end of story.   How does this square with anything you might have learned about how the Boy Scouts work in Wood Badge?  A major part of the advancement method is that the SCOUTS decide what they want to earn - and when.  We tell people on this forum all the time that Scoutmasters that refuse to give out blue cards to Scouts because "they have too many out already", or "they are too young to earn that badge" or "the Troop doesn't have a qualified MBC for that badge" or "the lad isn't a Tenderfoot yet" or whatever countless reasons they come up with that the Scoutmaster is not following BSA advancement policy and is off the rails.  Yes, you're the parent - but guess what - you're doing it wrong.  Encourage them - sure - but make them do it, period, end of story?  It's no longer their experience - its yours.   And none of this "at their age" stuff either.  The BSA has been around for over 100 years.  During most of that time, 11-year old Scouts were making their own decisions about what badges and rank requirements they wanted to work on, without being told what to do by their parents.  That was one of the things that made Scouting exciting when I crossed over and got my first Boy Scout Handbook - looking through all of the descriptions of the awards and merit badges and trying to decide which ones I was going to do and which one I was going to do first.  Why take that experience away from your boys just because there are things you've decided are good opportunities.

 

 One of the great things about Scouting is the opportunity for kids to get some practical learning. When we went to Washington DC on spring break, and about a month before our trip, I realized -- there's a Citizenship in the Nation badge, we made them do it.  It made sense.  Yes, it made sense - but why did you make them do it?  Is that part of Wood Badge now?  Parents should make their sons earn certain merit badges just because the timing makes sense?  As leaders we should be encouraging the Scouts to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities.  In an ideal world, the Scoutmaster would have gotten word that you were going to Washington DC on spring break which s/he then could turn in to an opportunity to take your sons aside, hand them the merit badge books from the Troop library, let them know they have a great opportunity to work on the badge while they are in DC and that s/he could get them a blue card and name of counselor if they think they might be interested.  As a parent, instead of making them do the merit badge, why not suggest it - a "hey, you know what - if you want to, we can take some time on our vacation to get to places that will help earn the badge" instead of making them do it. 

 

I am nerdy about their advancement.  I take photos of their signed blue cards.  I have a Google spreadsheet for each of them, as well as a list of all the resources in the area for badge classes that I know of.  Not that they will take all those classes, but at least we have an idea of what's out there.  If you keep track of their school work like this, that is admirable and a good thing for a parent to do - but eventually they are going to have to take control over that - especially when they get in to college.  Doesn't Wood Badge teach that Scouting is a place for the Scouts to control their own destiny, to take responsibility for their own experience, to take responsibility for their own advancement, to keep track of things?  Isn't Scouting a perfect opportunity for them to keep track of the Scouting stuff to learn how to keep track of the academic stuff?  Let them create their own google spreadsheet, their own tracking list and let them find their own resources.  

 

My personal goal for my boys is that they get 3 or 4 Eagle merit badges a year so that by freshman year of high school they have them all out of the way.  Maybe that happens or not, but they may as well be working on Boy Scout things, eagle required or not, than sitting with a nose in their electronics.  Not to keep harping on it but why do you have a personal goal of what your sons will accomplish in Scouting? As you're working your ticket, take a step back and think about this as a Scouter and not a Mom.  I encourage you to let your sons follow their own Scouting path.  Maybe they won;t get to Eagle and maybe they will - but I can tell you this as an Eagle Scout - the Eagle Scouts I talk to (in the adult world) that were supported by mom and dad but left to do it at their pace without being structured in either a Troop "eagle mill" or by their parents tracking everything and making the decisions of what comes next for their sons, have a lot more positive to say about it, and have gained a lot more from it than Eagle Scouts that we're directed by their parents to get it done.  

 

 

Back to the original point, It would make sense that over time, families and kids get more comfortable with Scouting and things get better. I was reading a post yesterday that said new Webelos come in with no teamwork skills.  Well, they're 11 year olds!  They haven't learned yet.  That's how it goes.   New parents come in with little understanding of Boy Scout processes, but it would seem that the boys and their families all grow over time.   Yes - this is exactly right, but they don't learn if the parents aren't either willing or able to let their sons flounder a little while they get their bearings.  

 

Like I said - please don't think I mean any disrespect - and take it with the grain of salt all of us should take things.  Maybe its the times.  I think back to when I was 11 and realize that by the time I crossed over to Boy Scouts, I already had a lot of experience in teamwork and organizing just by the everyday "routine" of getting up sand lot baseball games, or impromptu football games in the neighborhood.  I think the most important thing I want to stress is that yes, I was excited to get that book and start to dream and wish and plan what I was going to do - and I'll direct this to any parent who may be reading this - Are you letting your son dream, and wish and plan and get excited or are you turning your son's Scouting experience in to just another activity for the resume with homework to boot.

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I just want to put out there that, in units steeped in tradition, this form of "nuclear option" doesn't go over well.

This is especially true if your COR hasn't even dropped in on committee meetings in a while.

If it's his way or the highway, but half the room hits the road, all he gets is a lonely highway and nothing to haul on it.

 

That is a very good point Qwazse - thanks for making it.  I was speaking more that it could be done this way rather than it should be done this way.   

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I just want to put out there that, in units steeped in tradition, this form of "nuclear option" doesn't go over well.

This is especially true if your COR hasn't even dropped in on committee meetings in a while.

If it's his way or the highway, but half the room hits the road, all he gets is a lonely highway and nothing to haul on it.

 

Yes, that is a good point.

 

I would add that the IH and COR are supposed to be representing the Chartered Organization. They are not doing their jobs right if they are acting on their own private agendas. 

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My parental attitude towards raising the boys is not really connected to Wood Badge in any way.  I think it is a balancing act and will back off on making some of the decisions for the kids... but... I do make some decisions for them, such as -- put that computer game away!  (that's a big one nowadays).  The boys are sort of going along with Scouting and I don't know if they have any particular goals and desires for the program.  While they generally like Scout things when they get there, they don't necessarily desire on their own to go.  Both boys if given totally free choice would likely live on the couch with a remote control and an ipad, and so for us, Scouting is a way to pull them off the couch and put structure to some life skills.  Nothing's perfect.  

 

Most of all I just want the kids doing something other than electronics.  If I ask the kids to pick something and they pick nothing then we might pick things for them once in a while.  

 

Right now oldest is sort of working on family life and both boys are taking swimming lessons. The middle son says he wants to work on swimming and that's his thing, so that is good.  Both will learn valuable things at the upcoming Electricity merit badge class, and then we'll see.  I'd rather have them do something than not do anything at all.  

 

We can ease up on the kids -- and I like the process you suggested for the Citizenship in the Nation merit badge -- that sounds ideal.  I have read some books about becoming an Eagle scout and there is a lot of instruction to parents that they must push and that the big three with the 90 day logs are a huge obstacle.  

 

It is interesting, most Scout parents I have met push their kids.   I agree that as kids get older they will decide whether to go for Eagle or not.  Some examples of pushing, a dad at TKD is always offering parenting advice and has said you must push them and drag them, etc.  Looking at his kid, his kid has turned out fantastic, top of his high school class, a TKD instructor, doing great in college.  A mom on our committee was reviewing a log of all the merit badges that had been earned by the troop over the last 10 years and said about her son -- I made him get all of those.  Our retiring treasurer/former cc told us that his oldest son was pushed to Eagle at 14 and that then he let his second son take a little more time.  At our recent committee meeting, a cooking merit badge counselor complained he hasn't heard from an Eagle candidate who is coming up on 18 and needs to finish. Should be interested in the kids' progress, or que sera sera? 

 

I've met a lot of pushy parents!  I don't plan to be as pushy as those parents, but I may push a little.  It would be very hard to let, especially my middle kid, do nothing.  

 

Today we were out target shooting with a .22.  Youngest loves it.  Oldest liked it and tried it,  middle didn't want anything to do with it, but dad made him shoot one round.  Middle didn't like it but survived the experience.  Was it the wrong choice?   That's really still our decision as parents. 

Edited by WisconsinMomma

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That is a very good point Qwazse - thanks for making it.  I was speaking more that it could be done this way rather than it should be done this way.   

Since everyone appears to ignore the bylaws anyway, a repeal is not urgent.  It's good to know however that there is more than one path to get the job done. 

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I've seen pushy parents that cause their sons to lose interest and/or rebel.

 

My uncle pushed my cousin to get Eagle at 13. As soon as he became an Eagle, he quit. Still had 5 more years of adventures left.

 

Another Scout I know has been dragging his feet because he is not interested, but his dad wants another Eagle in the family. The troop changed from a hiking and camping troop, to a high speed, low drag advancement oriented troop because Dad is the SM and wants his son to be Eagle. Troop went from 3 active patrols (approximately 24 Scouts), to one patrol of 4 active Scouts. And 3 of them are new Scouts Everyone else has either quit, transferred, or Eagled and still registered, but not active, so they can get their palms. Some of the Eagles have not been on a camp out in years.

 

One interesting Life Scout I knew had 63 MBs because he was pushed by parents/ He rebelled b/c he got ticked off at them pushing. Missed Eagle by a service project.

 

Regarding change within a unit. You need adults who share the vision and are willing to back up and enforce the vision. One reason we got change going was the adults meeting and getting one vision. While it was not a 100% Scout-led vision, it was enough change to get it on the right path, and we had enough adults at the time agreeing to it. Now there is no enforcement, and the helicopter parents are taking over the troop now as they are ticking off the established Scouters to the point they are slowly backing away.

 

I do not know who attended the leaders' meeting last weekend, but I do know all of the helicopters were there. Long story short, they started a mega fundraiser for the pack and are still in charge of it.  Now that their sons are in the troop, the troop is involved with the fundraiser. I know two pro- Scout-led adults were not there because we were suppose to go backpacking today, and  1 was in the hospital.  So I do not think enough of the experienced adults to fight for the Scouts, and we will now have a Webelos 3 den with the troop that the adults will teach.

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