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Over-involved Dad

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I have started this message five times now.

The title seems a bit misleading, but maybe not.

 

There is a father in my son's troop and he is part of the adult leader team for the troop. This dad is an exceptional guy (maybe a bit naive)and his son is a pretty good kid, but could really benefit from scouts and the Patrol Method.

 

The problem is that this boy has NEVER gone on a Troop outing without dad. The one time that dad had to leave 1 day ahead of time at a summer camp, the boy was a mess and needed to be constantly consoled.

 

Now this boy has been selected for an honor guard (with my son), and dad is again going to attend.

 

I know the obvious implications of my post, but can not help but think that there is no way the boy would be part of a Troop or go on outings with dad. To this point, there is no way the scout would advance in rank if not for dad's involvement with all of the outings.

 

How does the Patrol Method relate to issues like this where active adult participation is encouraged, but constant involvement does not help the scout understand the patrol method and gain leadership experience?

 

Qualifiers: The boy does not have any medical conditions that would support the father being there constantly. The boy is home-schooled, but seems to interact well with the other boys in the Troop. As I said, the dad is a great guy and would do anything for the Troop.

 

Just was wondering if anyone else had over-involved parents and how the scouts turned out...

 

Thanks

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You could let the dad know that the PL can't do his job if dad is doing the PL's job. Ease the dad into other roles while still being present. They'll both have more fun.

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How old is the boy? Is the dad doing things for his son that the son should be doing for himself (setting up tent, cooking, clean-up, etc)? Does the dad interfere with the way the boys Patrol operates? Does the dad overrule the SPL or his son's PL? Does the boy sleep with his dad or with his Patrol?

 

Or, is the dad simply there, providing transportation and a background presence?

 

BTW - medical conditions are not always obvious to the outside viewer. Unless you are privy to inside medical information (not just what the parents have decided to tell/share with people outside of the family) you can not say for a certainty that there is no medical condition.

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Most over-involved parent problems are solved when we follow Baden-Powell's simple advice:

 

Separate those Patrols by 300 feet!

 

The dynamics of "active adult participation" are far more obvious when we must get up and walk 100 yards to interfere.

 

Kudu

 

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Dad just needs a little help to refocus his attention. You or another leader sould buddy up with him, draw him into other tasks sand then while you have his attention you can slowly trainin him to understand the methods of the program. Help him to watch his scout and the others from a distance rather than from right next to them.

 

Remember you can't complain both when you can' get adults to come, and then also when they want to. At least he takes an interest, now you just need to help him curb his enthusiasm a little.

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This past weekend I had a similar situation. A Webelos cross-over on his first Camporee... showed up all packed, in full uniform, and yet in tears because Mom or Dad couldn't go along. I visited with the boy and I gave the boy 10 minutes to make his choice because we would be leaving at that point. I then went to his PL, explained the situation and suggested that he consider taking the boy as his buddy for the weekend. He did that, the boy accepted with the assurance that the parents would stop by on Saturday to see if he still felt the same way.

 

We had a major storm roll through, it rained and blew heavily, the temps dropped down into the low 30's and I was seriously worried about hyperthermia in the whole troop. In the morning they all got up and began drying things out. At noon Mom showed up but the boy wanted to stay. Saturday night the sky cleared and the temps dropped into the upper 20's with a major frost.

 

When we got home, and his Mom came to pick him up, he wouldn't stop talking about all the fun he had had. 16 boys attended the event, 4 were not Webelos cross-overs. I put my tent up away from the boys as Kudu suggested and split out the patrols as far as the space allowed and everything went just fine. I have found over the years the more adults "oooh" and "aaaah" and "poor Billy" the situation the more the kids get worked up. Leave them alone, and let your PL's do their job.

 

Just make sure the adults camp together and not with their kids!

 

Stosh

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How is the Father interfering with the troop or patrols on outings? I see nothing in your post that reflects that.

 

You have an active registered active adult leader and parent..you have a good problem.

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As a scoutmaster, I have seen various degrees of over-involved Dad's in my troop. Some don't interfere with the program, some do.

 

One Dad interfered so much that we had to pull him aside and give him a talking to. By we, I mean me the CC and one of my SA's. I talked to him several times before this to get him to back off, with no effect. After we all talked to him, he backed off, but was in a sore mood. After a while he slowly lightened up and started helping out at the committee level.

 

I have another Dad that goes on every campout his son goes on. This Dad does not interfere with the program at all and is a real nice person to have around. However, several times during the day his son will come over to him and ask for something or ask him a question. I've asked him if he would like to be an assistant SM, but he says he doesn't have the time. It's really not an ideal situation for his son, as he is not learning to rely on himself or his felow scouts for help and he's not gaining self confidence. I don't think he gets to spend much time with his Dad other than campouts.

 

I've learned over the years to really stress the personal growth benefit of scouting with the new parents. I give them a handout which gives them the guidlines for camping with our troop. I make sure to mention these guidlines at our WEBELOS open house and new parent's meeting. It helps nip it in the bud to some degree, but I still get that one Dad who wants to do too much. I call it "New Parent's Syndrome" - just another thing a scoutmaster has to deal with.

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Wow...great replies...that's why I come to the forum.

 

First off, yes...there are worse problems to have.

 

Second, no...there are no additional health worries (possibly behavioral-not mental) that would create this atmosphere.

 

Third, the boy is 12 and comes from a very good home that provides regular family time.

 

Fourth, Dad does not interfere with the outings as much as the scout relies on Dad at the outings. How is the Patrol Method reinforced with the scouts if constant parental contact is the norm?

 

Fifth, the dad GLADLY takes on other roles, but is continually used as a security blanket. The problem is the lack of dad's awareness of interdependency that is prevalent at the outings.

 

I guess the idea of self reliance and self confidence is the biggest issue at stake. I think if left on his own, the scout would eventually thrive after a few "rough" outings. But again, the "problem" of an over involved dad comes with the idea that he is unaware that he is enabling his scouts dependency. So is it the PL, SM, another parent, - me - that approaches dad and asks when he will let his scout become independent?

 

 

 

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I still fail to see how dad is hurting the patrol method or the scout.

 

Is his son coming to him to help cook his food or put up his tent or adjust his backpack? If something like this occurs then yes someone should speak to him

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Dad needs Hockey goalie equipment to help him "kick the boy back in to play". I say this in a most light hearted way as it is how I have described the parents job at the troop level to freshly crossed over boys. "If your son comes to you for help, you kick him back into play and send him to his PL. If that doesn't work, send him back to his SPL. If that doesn't work, try the Troop Guide. If that doesn't work, its the SM/ASM. Basically, anybody but you." Oversimplified yes, but it gets the message across.

 

When Nephew bridged over, I knew I would be this dad (well, except I'm not a guy). So, I intentionally stayed away from camping trips, summer camp, camporees, etc. It worked for us. He and I have a great relationship and he knew he could come to me and I'd try to help. Fine for a guardian/child relationship - but not so great for Boy Scouts or even the bigger world at large. I'm still a work in progress (being a compulsive "fixer"), but I do try.

 

Sometimes a pleasant "bringing this to your attention" is all that is needed for dad to be comfortable with just being the goalie. I knew Nephew would be fine learning that he could 1 - probably do it himself, 2 - the other boys would help him if he asked for help and 3 - other adults do care about his well being and he can ask them for help if other venues fail. Maybe dad needs a button that reminds him and his son both "Did you ask your PL?"

 

Good luck - it sounds like his heart is in the right place...he just needs to kick junior back into play.

 

YiS

Michelle

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So are the Patrols close together, Cub Scout style?

 

The closer the Patrols, the more you need leadership theory and personal growth pop psychology to "understand" Scouting.

 

Kudu

 

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"How is the Patrol Method reinforced with the scouts if constant parental contact is the norm?"

 

How is the Patrol Method enforced with the other boys who have parents along at campouts?

 

Same thing. This boy is simply a bit young and emotionaly dependent yet.

 

As long as the dad is not doing things for the boy, stays with the other adults, and the boy is working with and sleeping with his Patrol, I really do not see a problem.

 

The boy will grow and mature in his own time frame.

 

 

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I have seen this (in varying degrees), and feel your pain.

 

I am fortunate to be with a group of experienced scouters that have dealt with this. You really won't change anything unless it comes from the whole troop/ leadership.

 

A group of dads I work with agreed together that during campouts, we would avoid interaction with our own sons. I would help the patrol my son was NOT in, and another dad would help my son's patrol. If my son came to me for help with, say, putting up his tent, I would ONLY direct him to another scout (or adult if appropriate), I would NOT give him other help or advice.

 

Have you tried talking to the dad? uncomfortable, delicate situation... I know. I have done this before. I told the parent the boy was struggling. I related my struggles and temptations wanting my boy to be the best, have the most fun, etc. and how difficult it is to step back. I suggested, and we made a pact. At the first campout, anytime he saw something and wanted to call his son on it, he was to catch MY attention and let me do it... and vice versa. I think it helped him to see that we all notice things from our own son that catches our attention, but others see as normal. We also decided he would go on the next campout (and I would stay home) and I would take the following one with him staying home. In that way, I made it sound like _I_ needed _his_ help, rather than me attacking his behavior.

 

Last tip... look for warning signs. Learn to watch for him seeking his son, or the boy seeking his dad. Intercept them. Find out the problem and solve it before they connect, give them a job to do, whatever. It's a LOT of work.

 

Good Luck. You are on the right track.

 

 

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We made a point, at our new parent orientation, to teach the parents the following phrase: "Ask your patrol leader". We have all new parents and leaders. The previous membership of the troop completely turned over in the last 6 months, so we are all starting from scratch. However, I knew enough from hanging around on forums and lists like this, and from my previous troop experience with my sons, what some of the issues would be.

 

We are trying hard to teach the parents that the boys need to rely on other boys for their answers. If they want to come to the adult area and say Hi!, that's fine, but if they need something, we want the parents to steer them to the PL or SPL. So far (fingers and toes crossed) it works most of the time.

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