Jump to content
Eagle94-A1

Dealing with Helicopter Parents

Recommended Posts

I'll chime in with the experience of being a newer parent in the Troop.   I'm not a helicopter parent, but... I am a parent with a strong interest in Scouting.  Some folks may feel that's just as bad, or may as well be the same thing.  My question for your friend's troop is -- how are they communicating with parents, and what opportunities are they making for the parents to be involved?  

 

An active parent can be a resource for a Troop.  Do you need fundraising, a committee position filled, support with rides, etc?  Is there any way that you can fit in a helicopter parent into your program and start more of a relationship with the family?  

 

In my experience, I have felt some frustration with my son's troop committee (my boys' experiences in the troop itself are very good) because I want to be active, but... there is a bit of an, "we've always done it this way" culture. We have some old-timers, perhaps one in particular, who has exerted a lot of influence over the adult leadership, although that is gradually changing and more parents of current scouts are getting involved.  Experienced adult leaders are wonderful, but not when it comes across as a resistance to any change or new idea. I have felt frustrated with an adult committee dominated by Scouters whose children are long grown up, and who I occasionally hear complaining about current parents not stepping up when, in my view, there's little room made for them!  Experienced Scouters get a lot done and they make the program stronger, but... current parents must be welcomed and brought into the organization, too.   There has got to be a balance and respect going both ways. 

 

Parents are part of the Scouting team, and a negative bias towards parents hurts the program.  

 

Yes, there has to be a balance and respect going both ways.

 

In my unit, a leader's authority is not based on age, experience, or the number of years service in the unit. It is based on the leadership position held. A 25 year old Scoutmaster outranks a 50 year old ASM.

 

Some parents come into our unit expecting it to be very egalitarian, with everyone having an equal say. We don't do it that way. We want everyone to be treated with respect.  We also want everyone to acknowledge and respect the leadership positions we hold. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's all fun and games until the Tiger Kid gets burned, cut, or gets into with an older scout.

 

or causes $1500 to $2000 worth of damage and gets the troop banned from staying at the location ever again.

 

Yes, that happened in my old troop back in the day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's all fun and games until the Tiger Kid gets burned, cut, or gets into with an older scout.

 

According to the latest BSA FB ad, even that may not matter. ;)

 

22853418_1576047072454175_92719578305859

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm curious to what you're seeing as the progression goes from new scout and scouting family to a more experienced scouting family one or two years later.   How do things change over time?

 

I know that in my oldest son's first year, I cared about advancement and I had questions.  I still care about advancement.  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.  Prior to a cooking outing, I was curious if the boys would have the opportunity to get certain parts of their requirements checked off.  I was nervous, because it was a good opportunity and it might be months before the boys would have the opportunity to cook with their patrols again.  As it turned out it all worked out.  My confidence in the troop grew, but I am glad that I asked a question (to an ASM) about how if they planned to cover the second class cooking stuff.  Now I understand a little more and I'm a little more relaxed about it.  Also, since my oldest has made it to second class, I can see that first class can be done and the rest after that isn't so bad.  

 

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.  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.  My tenderfoot completed an Eagle badge and that's OK, and it's perfectly fine for that to happen. I had the boys do a council class for First Aid.  Older son had his First aid about  1/2 complete from an outing, middle son had no experience.  They took the class.  My husband complained that it's not enough, but the reality is these boys will be reviewing first aid all the time in their Troop.  They're not supposed to be paramedics from a 4 hour class, they are supposed to have a basic understanding of whatever is in the requirements. 

 

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.  

 

ETA: A friend in our troop said that her son is going to manage the whole thing on his own, and that is great.  At a cub camping trip, I talked with her about it, and said something like -- knowing your kid has a goal of getting Eagle, I think he will get it but he might be the kind of get that gets it done at the last minute. She agreed. I let her know about the three 90-day requirements for Personal Fitness, Personal Management and Family Life and suggested that they develop a plan so the kid won't be stuck trying to do them all at the last minute, all at the same time.  I also let her know that for my kid, with some of the tracking things, we have struggled, and we've helped our son by giving him a calendar on the wall, or a daily desk calendar when it's time to track stuff, like the 30 days of fitness.  My oldest lost his first 30 day fitness record and ended up doing it twice.  He survived, but he's learning to organize, with some parental help and structure.  Without us giving him some tools and suggestions, the task is too much, and this is all a learning experience.  

 

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. 

 

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. 

Edited by WisconsinMomma

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the effort is laudable, these tracking techniques should be taught to the Scouts and then let them manage it. If they use your technique and tools, great. If not, let it go. Scouts can manage their own advancement using their handbook, keep track of their own blue cards and everything else.

 

Now, if they are not getting proper training, then step in, train them how to track and engage and then step back.

 

If you give Scouts the tools they will either use them or find their own tools. We, as parents, don't need to track everything for them. Hopefully we let them do what they (are supposed) to do in school: Learn, take notes and keep track of things themselves. They don't need mom and dad "helping". That's how we get 30 year olds "#adulting" instead of being adults (or parents).

 

Trust your boys. They will make it on their own.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm curious to what you're seeing as the progression goes from new scout and scouting family to a more experienced scouting family one or two years later.   How do things change over time?

 

My unit doesn't have scouting families. We have scouts and scout leaders. Some of them are related. Some aren't.

Edited by David CO
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My mom and dad paid for my scout uniform.  That was the only thing they did for me in my scouting career.  Everything else came out of my pocked and was accomplished on my own.  With that being said, I have come to the conclusion that parents aren't really needed in the program.  My dad was district commissioner for a brief time, but didn't get involved in scouting other than that. 

 

On the other hand all the weekends that I was not camping with the troop, I was camping with my family.  I learned more about camping before I got to scouts than I did while in scouts.  Scouts was just a great time to hang out with just my buddies.  That's why after 4 years none of us got beyond 2nd class. :)  It was still worth it for 4 years.

 

If the program was back then what it is today, there would have been no incentive to join.  None of us wanted parents and siblings around and Scouting was our opportunity for it.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again, in Red

 

 

I'm curious to what you're seeing as the progression goes from new scout and scouting family to a more experienced scouting family one or two years later.   How do things change over time?

 

Webelos is the time for progression/ transition. that is when the parents should begin backign away and letting the Webelos start doing things on their own. That way when they are Boy Scouts, they are prepared to go it without their parents and be with their patrols. While Cub Scout camping is family camping, Boy Scotu camping is not.

 

I know that in my oldest son's first year, I cared about advancement and I had questions.  I still care about advancement.  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.  Prior to a cooking outing, I was curious if the boys would have the opportunity to get certain parts of their requirements checked off.  I was nervous, because it was a good opportunity and it might be months before the boys would have the opportunity to cook with their patrols again.  As it turned out it all worked out.  My confidence in the troop grew, but I am glad that I asked a question (to an ASM) about how if they planned to cover the second class cooking stuff.  Now I understand a little more and I'm a little more relaxed about it.  Also, since my oldest has made it to second class, I can see that first class can be done and the rest after that isn't so bad.  

 

One of the biggest differences between Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts is this: advancement is the Boy Scout's responsibility, not the parents. Another difference is that not everything a Boy Scout does needs to be advancement oriented.

 

As to my boys, or even my Scouts, earning Eagle. I actually could care less. The purpose of Boy Scouts isn't earning Eagle, but rather the Scouts grow physically, mentally, morally. I want Scouts who are independant, productive citizens.

 

But I am also part of that pre-1989 group of Scouts and Scouters who remember the words of William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt, and the emphsais on 'mastering the skills" and not getting First Class in a year and earning Eagle.

 

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.

 

i remember when 'Operation First Class" came out in August 1, 1989. As a Scout I said it was a ridiculous mistake, and almost 30 years later I still say it is a ridiculous mistake to push it. Glad you realized it is nonsense.

 

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. 

 

With all due respect, you are doing a tremedous disservice not only to your Scouts, but also to the others in the class and the MBC doing the class. I have had to deal with Scouts who had no interest in taking a MB, instead they were forced to by whomever. Long story short, in one instance they caused so many problems, and the director would not allow me to kick them out of the class due to their behavior, that NO ONE (emphasis) was able to complete the MB.

 

In another instance, I had two trouble makers who finally stopped causing problems when one of their smart aleck questions resulted in a discourse on the seriousness of some Native American games that resulted in the losers death.

 

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.  My tenderfoot completed an Eagle badge and that's OK, and it's perfectly fine for that to happen. I had the boys do a council class for First Aid.  Older son had his First aid about  1/2 complete from an outing, middle son had no experience.  They took the class.  My husband complained that it's not enough, but the reality is these boys will be reviewing first aid all the time in their Troop.  They're not supposed to be paramedics from a 4 hour class, they are supposed to have a basic understanding of whatever is in the requirements. 

 

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.  

 

Why are you doing all of this and not them? You do realize that you are taking responsibility for their advancement away from them, and in effect treating them like Cub Scouts, not Boy Scouts. They need to be the ones searching for MB opportunites based upon what interests them. They need to keep track of what they have done, and what they need to do for advancement. if you do everythign for them, they will never learn to do for themselves.

 

ETA: A friend in our troop said that her son is going to manage the whole thing on his own, and that is great.  At a cub camping trip, I talked with her about it, and said something like -- knowing your kid has a goal of getting Eagle, I think he will get it but he might be the kind of get that gets it done at the last minute.

 

What is wrong with getting Eagle at the last minute? I'll post my Tale of the Two Eagles later when I have more time.

 

She agreed. I let her know about the three 90-day requirements for Personal Fitness, Personal Management and Family Life and suggested that they develop a plan so the kid won't be stuck trying to do them all at the last minute, all at the same time.  I also let her know that for my kid, with some of the tracking things, we have struggled, and we've helped our son by giving him a calendar on the wall, or a daily desk calendar when it's time to track stuff, like the 30 days of fitness.  My oldest lost his first 30 day fitness record and ended up doing it twice.  He survived, but he's learning to organize, with some parental help and structure.  Without us giving him some tools and suggestions, the task is too much, and this is all a learning experience.  

 

Again you do realize you are doign a disservice to you Scouts by doing it for them. My Middle son lost his records and had to do them twice. Best lesson he ever learned, and is now careful to keep track of things himself with no need for me to get involved.

 

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. 

 

What are your sons' goals? It shoul dnto be your goal. I hope thet do not do what one Scout I had did when his parents pushed him to do things he didnt want to do: rebel. This Scout had 64 MBs, which his parents pushed on him. he finally got fed up, rebelled and quit. He missed Eagle by a Service Project. if memory serves, his parents wanted him to do one thing, he another. 

 

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. 

 

I actually had 2 dens come into the troop that WDLs starte treating them as Boy Scouts as soon as they became Webelos. Those WDLs spent 18 months transitioning them and their parents from Cub Scout mentality to Boy Scout mentality.  They were a team and worked out well. It's the new Scouts from dens thaqt do not begin that transitioing process, the dens that keep Webelos as an extension of Cub scouts and not a transition program, that do not have the teamwork, and abiltiies.

 

True story, we had 2 dens from 2 different packs working on Castaway Activity badge when the troop did wilderness survival. With one den,  the one that began the transition as soonas they become Webelos, the 3 Scouts attending jumped right into it. They had their shelters made, fires going, and were cooking their lunches before the other den, the ones who we are now having issues with, even started on their group shelter. Long story short, the parents ended up buildign the group shelter for the Webelos, and then they left as they didn't plan to camp. Funny thing is that one of those shelters that a Webelos buit is till up almost a year later.

 

I have found if you have high expectations, the Scouts will live upo to them. If you treat them like Cubs, they will. Or if they are older, they will back off and/or leave completely.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.   

 

If I were you, I would put your helmet on, now.   :)

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the subject of last-minute Eagles (it's too cumbersome to quote and sub-quote what WisconsinMomma and Eagle94-A1 said):  An Eagle is an Eagle whether they are 14 or their last requirement (other than BOR) is signed off on the last business day before their 18th birthday.  (My son was the latter, and at that time the application, workbook, etc. had to be in the hands of the Eagle coordinator at council hq before the 18th birthday, so he actually made it with four hours to spare.) 

 

The problem is that if you do it the way my son did it, you dramatically increase the chances that you are not going to make it at all.  If it had rained on the last workday for his project (five days before his birthday) he most likely would not have made it.  If any one of about seven different people (including 2 MBC's, the township engineer, the SM and CC, and others) had been away on vacation, on business, ill, or whatever, during that particular week, he might not have made it.  (In fact, his SM was about 2,000 miles away when he "signed" my son's Eagle application over the phone.)  My son made Eagle because all of these adults were willing and able to be inconvenienced in order to review and sign what had to be reviewed and signed - and because his father was willing and able to take a long lunch-hour to run his paperwork up to council.  (In theory I could have made him drive to council himself but that would have meant missing part of a day in school, and I decided it was better for him to be in school AND make Eagle, all at the same time.) 

 

I think that despite his protestations to the contrary, in my son's mind the "target date" was always his 18th birthday, despite the too-frequent reminders from both myself and people who weren't his father, that this was the path to probable failure.  He put the outcome of his effort much too much in hands of people other than himself.   Despite all his hard work, he made Eagle because he was lucky.  That's the problem with a last-minute Eagle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the Tale of the Two Eagles.

 

Once there were two Eagles. The First Eagle was the son of a "Double Eagle," or an Eagle Scout and Explorer Silver recipient. "Double Eagle" dad pushed and pushed and pushed his son to earn Eagle at the ripe old age of 13. Since the Silver Award was no longer around for Exploring, dad did no pushing for that. Since the First Eagle met his dad's expectations, and thought his journey was over, he quit Scouting at 13, only to rejoin many years later when his own son became a Tiger Cub.

 

Now the First Eagle had a cousin. Both "Double Eagle" Uncle and First Eagle Cousin pushed and pushed and pushed the Scout to earn his Eagle. As a 13 year old Life Scout, he was  well on his way to becoming an Eagle at 14. But the Second Eagle took some winding trails after earning Life. First he did a local high adventure program instead of the traditional MB summer camp program, and he had FUN! A few months later he took the NYLT course of its day; Brownsea 22. It was a challenging week and he had FUN. Next Second Eagle was inducted into the OA, becoming a Brotherhood Member before earning eagle. Then Second Eagle went to a National Scout Jamboree and then did a Canadian canoeing trek. It it was FUN. Finally Second Eagle realized he was 17 and some odd months, and he needed to buckle down fast if he was to become an Eagle. He finished everything but his Eagle BOR 5 days before turning 18.

 

And Second Eagle stayed active in Scouting. He got involved in Sea Scouts, earning Ordinary, and then the OA, becoming a Vigil. Second Eagle was selected to participate in the European camp Staff program and attend a World Scout Jamboree. He stayed active in a variety or roles, and was proudest when his three sons earned their Bobcat badge wit him as their DL.

 

Now tell me who had more fun in Scouting, my cousin the First Eagle, or me the Second Eagle? Over the years, no one has asked me how old i was when i got it, or how many palms I earned. They ask if I am an Eagle, and what my adventures have been. And I can go on and on about my 35 years in Scouting as a youth and adult.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the Tale of the Two Eagles.

I prefer, though I do not recommend emulating, the Tale of the Third Eagle, which I have recited above. He had a lot of fun in Scouting too, but things still would have been much easier on him, and those around him, if he had made Eagle around 6 months before his birthday, rather than four hours.

 

And then there is the tale of the... well, he was not the Fourth Eagle, because he aged out at Life, after having been to TLD (nka NYLT) and Philmont, and having been SPL and JASM, having founded the Leadership Corps in his troop, and other fun and beneficial stuff, and having decided at about 16 and a half that there were higher priorities (both inside and outside Scouting) than making Eagle.  This Life-for-Life did disappoint his father, though.  (If not already clear, this Life-for-Life is me.)

Edited by NJCubScouter

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

×