“No Scouts for you until you start behaving, mister!”
Come on, nobody says that, right? Wrong. Here’s proof:
I am a den leader in a pack, and parents use coming to Scouts as a reward. If Scouts misbehave, their punishment is they can’t come to Scout meetings. But Scouts has done wonders for these kids. Any ideas on how to encourage the parents not to use the meetings as their reward for being good or getting good grades? I don’t mind if they do that for other events, but not the meetings. The Scout misses out on so many things.
Trying to help my Scouts,
Cradle of Liberty Council (Philadelphia)
Thanks to M.M. for the letter. It’s a really tricky one: Should you discourage this form of punishment — and keep Scouts coming to meetings? Or would that risk offending the parents by telling them how to raise their child?
I asked our Facebook friends for help, and they came up with several great suggestions. Take a look:
Be Frank With the Parents
“I am a leader, and I have run into this. I carefully approached the parents and pointed out that Scouts teaches good behavior and that maybe a different punishment was better suited (than missing the pack meeting). Sometimes if you explain that the outing is not just a field trip but an opportunity to learn and display (publicly) Scout behavior and be an example that works. Other times, if you explain that they will have to make up the outing on their own time in order to not get behind, that works too. If parents feel like you are teaching their son to become an honorable young man by instilling values, and by expecting stellar behavior, they are more likely to trust you to help with the issue!”
— Rebecca H.
“As with anything else, there has to accountability. Parents who don’t send their child to Scout meetings are showing them that there are consequences to their actions. As long as they don’t miss a lot it shouldn’t hurt them. As a Cubmaster, my son knows that his attendance depends upon his grades and behavior from one meeting to the other. I may seem harsh to some, but growing up we learned that misbehaving often lead us to missing things that we enjoyed, and after one time we didn’t want to miss again.”
— Sandra F.
Follow the Law
“That punishment is counter to the second line of the Law of the Pack: The Cub Scout helps the Pack Go. Attending pack meetings and representing his den in the pack activities is one way the Cub lives up to his commitment to “help the pack go.” If he misses a pack meeting, sure he’s being punished by missing fun activities, but he’s also letting down his den teammates by not being there to do his part.”
— Greg F.
Set Some Limits
“When my son first became a Boy Scout he had grade issues at school. He lived for Scouts! He was allowed to attend two meetings a month but no outings until his grades came back up. That kept him active with the unit but also showed him what he was missing.”
— Phyllis K.
Not My Place
“I think this is a parenting decision and not my place to interfere. I love being a leader and I love Scouting and see the good it does. However, it is extracurricular, and if a boy’s grades drop or he needs correcting, it is up to the parent to decide is a Scout is attending or not. I don’t use this as punishment for my son, but it isn’t my place to tell parents how to parent. Or judge them.”
— Nancy A.
Read more solutions from Scouters like you by clicking here.
But first, a final point I couldn’t resist posting: “When it comes to total value, maybe the child should be kept home from school and allowed to attend the Scout meeting.” — Ray C.
That’s unlikely, but it’s definite food for thought!