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gblotter

Difficult Parent Interraction

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I get fully that there are genuinely difficult, and even downright nasty and condescending, parents out there, but those type of parents are more the exception than the norm. Most are just looking for some guidance, clarification and certainly acknowledgement of their concerns.

Maybe this guy is genuinely difficult or maybe he's just frustrated and looking for some guidance...

In my work with youth and parents, both in scouting and outside of scouting, I would never outright ignore an e-mail, text, phone call, or any communication from a parent. That's just going to frustrate the parent and make them feel disrespected. Respect and courtesy are both two way streets...

Do acknowledge the parent's concern but let them know that it s the scout who should be reaching out; e.g. "Hi Mr. Smith, I appreciate your concerns. Please do ask Billy to send me an e-mail or to see me at the next meeting so that he and I can sit down to discuss."  Then tell Billy that he, and not his Dad, should be driving this discussion and that he should contact the MB counselor himself for clarification on requirements.

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20 minutes ago, SSF said:

Do acknowledge the parent's concern but let them know that it s the scout who should be reaching out; e.g. "Hi Mr. Smith, I appreciate your concerns. Please do ask Billy to send me an e-mail or to see me at the next meeting so that he and I can sit down to discuss."  Then tell Billy that he, and not his Dad, should be driving this discussion and that he should contact the MB counselor himself for clarification on requirements.

Yep - Had a parent e-mail about some items, several e-mails.  We copied them but directed the inquiry back to the Scout.  Parent was main one asking again, sent a note just to parent reminding them that the advancement is owned by the Scout, they need to drive it.  We want them to copy the parents, but we want to enable the scout to handle his needs.  They backed off and the Scout is doing it now.

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Does Johnny Scout want to earn the badge or do YOU, Mr. ScoutDad want to earn the badge?  I will speak to which ever of the two wants to earn the badge...

Does the Scout have a disability that needs to be addressed by the Council Disability Committee to consider an "accommodation"  in the requirements? 

Busy people need to schedule and take notes and keep a calendar and prioritize... All skills learned by successful Scouts. 

 

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On 9/14/2018 at 9:29 AM, gblotter said:

A dad of a 17 year-old Scout reached out to me for guidance about the Cooking merit badge (which meals count, which meals do not, etc). I'd prefer to deal with the boy - not the parent - for such questions. I'd also prefer the boy receive that guidance from the merit badge counselor - not me, the Scoutmaster. This is a lawnmower parent, so I don't respond to his initial email.

Then the merit badge counselor chimes in and also asks for my guidance (he is trying to punt a difficult parent situation to me). I then respond and give my opinions, but I direct my  response to the boy (who is copied on the email thread). The dad keeps sending me more emails trying to negotiate an easier outcome for his son. I finally told the dad that I'd prefer to talk to his son because that is a way to ensure the Scout is engaged in the process. Then the dad gets huffy and accuses me of being a Scouting purist who is concerned only with the program and not the boys. I don't understand the reality of busy teens (even though I have three teenage children myself).

I apologized for offending him and I told him I was withdrawing from the conversation because the merit badge counselor should provide that guidance anyway. Finally an email response comes from the son's email address, but the writing style looked suspiciously like the dad was the actual author. There is no winning with some parents.

Wow, having the scout talk to you about it is about concern for the boy. Part of the process is getting the Scouts to do their own jobs and stand up and do for themselves. 

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On 9/14/2018 at 11:26 AM, Sentinel947 said:

I'd love an opportunity to hit that pitch. 

"I am a Scouting purist. Your son taking responsibility for his own needs and communicating with adult authority figures will be critical when he enters college or the workforce. I'm a purist because I want him to learn these skills now." 

Maybe this is why I'm not a SM or CC. My smart mouth would offend some parent and they'd pull their son out. "How dare you tell me how to raise my son!"

I would amend what you said to: "I am a Scouting purist.  Following the program is the best thing for the boys.  Your son needs to learn to communicate with authority figures on his own. College professors will simply laugh at a parent who tries to intervene for their kids."

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On 9/14/2018 at 12:57 PM, Sentinel947 said:

I agree, but that's not what the situation is. This is the parent doing all the talking for their son. Possibly the son isn't involved at all. All for talking to the son and his dad together. Parents have a right to be involved if they choose, but the broader point is, by doing it for their son, they are doing him no favors as life as a real adult looms.  

Exactly. 

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