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Eagle94-A1

Dealing with Helicopter Parents

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(Off topic a little bit) Sunday The Turtles are urging Son#1 to finish his college scholarship essay and get his application in. Son (who is just goofing on the smartphone all day) says "Stop being helicopter parents--you are the worst parents in the world!" Mrs Turtle tells him it is not being a helicopter parent to remind him the weekend is almost over and you made the commitment to do this. 

 

Son#2 chimes in with "Mommy and Daddy are not helicopter parents--the other ones at scouts and school are so much worse. They are more like drone parents--you know orbiting high overhead observing. They might only be watching you but it is nice to be able to call in an air strike now and then."

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The ones who annoy the daylight out of me are the ones who, when I ask the scout what he needs for his next rank, jump in and start answering before the scout has a chance to even open his mouth. 9 times out of 10, the scout doesn't even know the answer because he doesn't need to worry about it as long as mom/dad know. 

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1)  Have lots of SMMinutes about the Promise and the Law. And personal responsibility.

2 ) Address the Scout, in the presence of the parents. Do not address the parent, except as it applies to them, "their" requirements, not the Scout's.  If the parent(s) ask a question, ask the Scout about that, "Jonny, what do you think about that?"  Do not let the parent drag you back to them, it MUST be about the Scout.  

3) If the Scout needs accommodation (ADHD, physical disablement,  psychological problem, separated family dynamic, autism spectrum, etc.)  ,sit down with parent and work up a definite IN WRITING IF NECESSARY (emphasis intended) plan.  Get the Scout to agree, he has to understand and admit his limitations. This is a good thing, if done correctly. Seek guidance from pros, school counselor, county health Dept.  etc.

4) Ask the Scout (in private SMC) who packs his backpack?  I remember it was a "Big Thing"  when I told my mom "that's not the way a Scout should do it".  I think I almost made her cry.    

5)  See #2 above.   In your conversation with parent(s), (see #2 again) , remind them gently but firmly, it is BOY Scouts, not PARENT Scouts.  Remind them it will be Johnny who picks out their Assisted Living Facility.  Do they want his resentment coloring that?  Or do they want him to come back from Philmont/Summit/Northern Tier glad to be home? 

6)  Scouter:  YOU do not cut the apron strings . The parents do not cut the apron strings.  The Scout must be the one who either cuts or rips from his parents hands the apron strings.  Always good to have some string handy, never know when something needs to be tied up (or down). 

 

See you on the trail.

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My son was on staff at council summer camp, they designated levels for leaders (yes Helicopter leaders) and parents in the camp

 

- Simple over involved oversight: Helicopter

- More involved, checking on scout, asking questions on their behalf: Blackhawk

- Even more involved, direct involvement during classes, scout is two steps behind: Chinook

- Highest level, it's all about their scout, involves Camp Director in any perceived slight: Sea Stallion

 

You could almost hear their eyes roll when one of these leaders/parents would take up residence in a program area

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My replies in Red

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. 

 

I do not think so. I saw first hand what helicopter parents did to one troop, and they are hurting big time. Good news is that now all but one of the helicopters sons got Eagle, they have moved on and some fresh blood is getting in finallhy. Yes helicopter parents can destory a program.

 

 

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?"

 

Defensive yes, because they will destroy a program. They will not listen to the leaders, ignoring and trying to take over. had this happen everytime new Scout parents t went camping. Thankfully we had 2 adults run interference and get the helicopters away.

 

As for secretive, no. They are more than welcome to camp and WATCH (emphasis)  As long as they do not interfere withthe program, I'm game.

 

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.

 

As others stated, the anger is there, maybe not as verbalized.  I know my thesis advisor told me why he left Harvard to teach at my university: helicopter parents threatening to sue him for giving their student a B.

 

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.

 

Somewhat correct. The problems lies in A) the person they are asking and B) who should be asking.

 

The parents should be asking their sons basic stuff, i.e. how much the campout will be, who is the MBC for this MB, does my son need this patch by Friday, etc. instead of going directly to the adults. If the Scotu doesn' know, then he needs to go up the chain to his leaders to find out: Scout Asks PL; if PL doesn know, then PL goes to SPL; if SPL doesn't know then SPL GOES TO THE ADULTS (emphasis)

 

The other problem is the helicopters, or maybe I should call them bulldozers, trying to tkae over the program. We had one helicopter try to change 2 months of planned meetings so that his son could get a MB. SPL responded that we already made plans and maybe next year. One set of Helicopters bulldozed a campout that some of the Scouts were really looking forward to and turned it into a fundraising campout. OK, I know we need money for equipment, but A) you don't come up with stuff 8 weeks ahead of it, one the same weekend as a scheuled campout, and pressure the PLC into changing thjeir plans.Already know of 3 Scouts who will be skipping the camp out/fundraiser, and i can't blame them. It's not something they wanted to do.

 

An aside, the reason why the helicopters wanted the Scouts there is for manpower. The comment made was that the pack got all the tickets and the Boy Scouts won't get any. When I said not a problem, we can go back to the original plans, it was stated that if the troop doesn't sell tickets, they get no money, to which I replied if the troop doesn't get any money, the Scouts don't need to be there.  We got tickets the next week.

 

 

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

 

This is the problem: if you do not give the Scouts the opportunity to be independant and make mistakes, how will they grow? That's why all adults need to back off and let the Scouts process and decide what is going on. Sadly Scouting is one of the few places that happens these days.

 

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.

 

trust me, I know. I knew an SM who played favorites. And I know not every volunteer is a saint. I've dealt with Youth Protection issues as youth, a volunteer and as a pro. But my mom talked TO ME( emphasis) and not the adults about the matters when I was a youth. And when it is found out, the other adults will handle it appropriately.

 

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."

 

I agree. But when parents disregrard what they are told and do their own thing, they are helicopters. Give an example. One helicopter posted a question on the troop's FB page. The SPL answered that the son needed to ask his PL. She then posted on an Scouters' only thread, and reposted the question. When she go tthe same answer from the SM, she goes on therampage.

 

Then another helicopter asks the same question.

 

 

 

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.

 

We've had 3 meetings and numerous discussions on the matter. in one ear, out the other.

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(Off topic a little bit) Sunday The Turtles are urging Son#1 to finish his college scholarship essay and get his application in. Son (who is just goofing on the smartphone all day) says "Stop being helicopter parents--you are the worst parents in the world!" Mrs Turtle tells him it is not being a helicopter parent to remind him the weekend is almost over and you made the commitment to do this. 

 

Son#2 chimes in with "Mommy and Daddy are not helicopter parents--the other ones at scouts and school are so much worse. They are more like drone parents--you know orbiting high overhead observing. They might only be watching you but it is nice to be able to call in an air strike now and then."

 

 

My son was on staff at council summer camp, they designated levels for leaders (yes Helicopter leaders) and parents in the camp

 

- Simple over involved oversight: Helicopter

- More involved, checking on scout, asking questions on their behalf: Blackhawk

- Even more involved, direct involvement during classes, scout is two steps behind: Chinook

- Highest level, it's all about their scout, involves Camp Director in any perceived slight: Sea Stallion

 

You could almost hear their eyes roll when one of these leaders/parents would take up residence in a program area

These two made my day

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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.

 

Yup.  College faculty, too.  Snowflake Student has one issue, complaint, whatever...it's not talk to the professor about it, it is now head straight to the Dean (or higher!)

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My son was on staff at council summer camp, they designated levels for leaders (yes Helicopter leaders) and parents in the camp

 

- Simple over involved oversight: Helicopter

- More involved, checking on scout, asking questions on their behalf: Blackhawk

- Even more involved, direct involvement during classes, scout is two steps behind: Chinook

- Highest level, it's all about their scout, involves Camp Director in any perceived slight: Sea Stallion

 

You could almost hear their eyes roll when one of these leaders/parents would take up residence in a program area

 

Camp should have a "Stinger Award" for the best takedown (or, at least, redirection) of one of these!

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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?"

 

I know of a high school ice hockey team where all the parents were required to attend what one of them called "anger management" training.  I am sure it was officially called something else (like "sportsmanship" maybe?)  I think in that case it was more about the hostility that the parents were unleashing on the OTHER team, and their parents and coaches, rather than complaints to their own team's coach.  When it comes to parents complaining about their child not playing enough, or not getting the lead in the school play, or not being elected SPL, etc. etc. I am not sure parents are much different than they were "back in the day" (whatever day that was for each of us.)  There have always been some parents who were complainers. I remember when I was SPL, the SM (my father) once told me that one of the troop committee members had complained to him because I had not appointed her son to the Leadership Corps rather than keeping him as a patrol leader.  (If I recall correctly the SM did not request that I change my decision, just that I think about it.)  This would have been about 43 years ago.

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My son was on staff at council summer camp, they designated levels for leaders (yes Helicopter leaders) and parents in the camp

 

- Simple over involved oversight: Helicopter

- More involved, checking on scout, asking questions on their behalf: Blackhawk

- Even more involved, direct involvement during classes, scout is two steps behind: Chinook

- Highest level, it's all about their scout, involves Camp Director in any perceived slight: Sea Stallion

 

You could almost hear their eyes roll when one of these leaders/parents would take up residence in a program area

 

Our troop had a Blackhawk type leader--he was a grandfather of one of our scouts and had been a Scoutmaster in the past.  He helicoptered all the first year Scouts at Summer camp.  The other 4 of us were more mellow.

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I know of a high school ice hockey team where all the parents were required to attend what one of them called "anger management" training.  I am sure it was officially called something else (like "sportsmanship" maybe?)  I think in that case it was more about the hostility that the parents were unleashing on the OTHER team, and their parents and coaches, rather than complaints to their own team's coach.  When it comes to parents complaining about their child not playing enough, or not getting the lead in the school play, or not being elected SPL, etc. etc. I am not sure parents are much different than they were "back in the day" (whatever day that was for each of us.)  There have always been some parents who were complainers. I remember when I was SPL, the SM (my father) once told me that one of the troop committee members had complained to him because I had not appointed her son to the Leadership Corps rather than keeping him as a patrol leader.  (If I recall correctly the SM did not request that I change my decision, just that I think about it.)  This would have been about 43 years ago.

 

 My general observation is that the parents are roughest on their own kids, at least in soccer and lacrosse. I would sometimes cringe at how they would tear their kids down from the sidelines.  

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I know a Scoutmaster who will fill in the parents name on a blue card when the parent asks for one for their Scout.  It usually results in a sheepish Scout bringing it back to the next meeting and asking the Scoutmaster for a new one.

That’s perfect.

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New one today.

 

So the SPL and SM both mentioned after 1 incident that if the Scouts do not take care of their tents, which were donated to the troop, they could stay under the stars or sleep under tarps so that they could learn why they need to take care of the tents.  They didn't take care of the tents. SPL announced that they troop will be under tarps this weekend.

 

The helicopters are complaining because it is taking advancement opportunity away from their Scouts and 'Punishing Scouts is  violating BSA policy and that taking their tents away is way overboard."

 

Funny thing is I always thought Scouting was a place for Scouts to screw up, live with their consequences, and learn from their mistakes.

 

So glad the Charter Organization did not take me up on the offer to take over as SM. Heck even SWMBO commented on that, and stated she knows a troop that will be losing their SM soon, and the guy to take over will need help.

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Tarps? Taking away advancement opportunities? Like there's a tent-wrecking badge?

 

Told a mom Monday night that it's not her job to track her son's advancement. That's on him. She was so relieved.

In our school district, kids are sent home with so many requests for parent signatures, sometimes acknowledging every class assignment, they like having one thing that's not their responsibility.

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