It’s funny how something can happen that can inspire me to go, “I have to write about that!”. That is where today’s post comes from.
My oldest is a leader in our local Scout group. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to come back as a leader this year. My husband (who is also a leader in the same section) persuaded him to return because we were short on leaders at the time.
Now, let me put things in perspective. If this does become his last year, he will have been with Scouts Canada for nine years, two of which he was a leader AND a Venturer. I am proud of him for it. Scouts has taken a kid who had some issues (I won’t go into them here right now) and turned him into someone who the younger kids look up to.
That’s pretty cool.
All that said, it’s been about a month into the season and he regrets agreeing to do it. We realize that part of it is that we coerced him into it because we didn’t want to have to turn any kids away (we have to maintain the correct adult to kid ratio). Part of it is that, as a “typical” teenage boy, he wants whatever free time he can get, and making this type of commitment infringes on that time. We actually have enough leaders now, so we could let him “off the hook” and have him step away from this responsibility.
WE ARE NOT.
Besides the fact that the kids enjoy spending time with him, he did make a PROMISE. A promise not just to us, but to those kids.
We’ve all been there. We have all taken on tasks or responsibilities that in hindsight, we wish we hadn’t. No matter the reason, we grin and bear it and get it done. Why? Well, we made a promise.
Sometimes as a parent, it can be easier to tell your kids that they don’t have to bother doing something, rather than having to put up with them griping about it. Heaven knows that I have done it more than once. 😉
In this case, we are making him stay with the group for the rest of the Scouting year. Let’s just say that he wasn’t happy with that decision. So I took the opportunity to sit down with him and explain why.
This wasn’t one of the those “because I’m the parent and I told you so” moments. Instead, I wanted him to learn that even when you have to do something that you don’t want to do, that you can find a way to get something positive out of it. Part of the Scout motto is also to always “do your best”.
So what did I tell him? Well, the first thing was saying “thank you”. I wanted him to know that we understood that he changed his mind, and that we APPRECIATED him staying on.
Hold on for a minute. Didn’t I just say that we are MAKING him stay? Why would we bother saying THANK YOU then? Simple. It’s a lot easier to have someone’s help when they know that they are appreciated, even if they are a teenage boy being told to do it by his parents.
He made a PROMISE, and a promise is a promise. He doesn’t hate Scouting. It’s just after almost nine years of it he has lost interest. It happens. So we talked about the things that he does like about it. Finding something that you like about a job makes that job easier to do. He does like being around the kids. When we mentioned how they look up to him, it reminded him of how he used to look up to the older boys when he was younger.
It looks great on a resume. He hasn’t started working yet, but having this type of experience impresses an employer. It shows responsibility, time management, teamwork, and all those other traits that an employer looks for.
He will be leaving on good terms with the group. By staying for the year instead of bowing out early, he shows a respect for the leaders who are counting on him for his support.
It’s just a part of growing up. This will not be the only time that he will be made to do something that he doesn’t want to. Teaching him how to deal with it now can only help him as he gets older.
So, he is staying. He will probably complain about it on and off for the next nine months, but that’s okay. On the other hand, he may find that he doesn’t dislike as much as he thought, and will finish the year on a good note.
We will see how the year goes. We just had a fundraiser over the weekend and he complained that it took up his entire Saturday. My husband then proceeded to tell him how much we raised and how it’s helped the group, and suddenly he was glad that he was a part of it.
He will be learning a lot in this last Scouting year. It won’t just be about camping skills and first aid tips. It will be about the importance of keeping a promise. Finding something positive out of something that could be negative. Finally, he will learn that by “sticking it out” he’s made his parents proud of him.
I think that we have a pretty good kid. 🙂
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