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How to Talk to Parents and Engage them in the Lives of their Children

By Scout Executive Paul Wilkinson

A lot of parents today are not engaged in the lives of their children both in Scouting and in other extracurricular activities.  It is our job, as people who have raised kids or are raising kids currently and are involved in their lives, to educate parents “why” they need to be involved in the lives of their children.  This is not meant to “brow beat” them into doing something they do not want to do (even though this might be the outcome), but they need to know what they are missing by not participating in the lives of their children.  We need to tug at their heartstrings to accomplish this task.  Below are some taking points that volunteers can use when talking to parents.  Keep in mind most of the stories are my personal stories, but all of you have testimonies related to being involved in the lives of your children.

 

  • “Kids are only young for a very short period of time.  Don’t miss it! It goes by quick”.  I tell parents not to blink  because your kids will be grown before you know it.  I have a good friend (another Scout Executive) who was not involved in his girl’s lives at a young age (even though I strongly encouraged him to do so) , they are now teenagers, and he has no relationship with them today.  They do not know him, and one of them is currently “rebelling”. He missed his chance to get close to them when they were young.

 

  • “Kids want to look at their parent’s as their heroes”.  Maybe they do not see that right now, maybe they do, but as I look back, both of my parents were my heroes growing up.  This was mentioned at my father’s funeral.  My parents were always involved in my activities and life.  My father was my role model growing up.  He took care of his family, his job, and still found time to be involved in our lives.  Even as an adult, my favorite past time was fishing with my father.  Today parent’s need to be that hero and role model for their children.

  • “Children, who have parents who are involved in their lives, are closer to their kids”.  I look at the things that my children and I did because of Scouting.  It drew us closer together, and we did activities (through Scouting) that I would have never done with them without Scouting (Boundary Waters, Hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains, White Water Rafting the New River in Virginia, Cave Exploration, Canada Boating High Adventure, Weekend Campouts, Summer Camps, etc.).  It drew us closer and we still talk about these activities. Your children get more out of any activity when the parent is involved. 

 

  • “Children want their parent’s to be proud of them.  This happens more often if the parents are involved in their lives and present”.    By participating in my children’s lives, we celebrated life accomplishments together because of my involvement.  They knew that I was always proud of them.  This does not end when they become adults.  My 27 year old will run the Twin Cities Marathon for the third time last year.  My wife and I were there to cheer him on and tell him how proud we are of him.  I have made one trip to Chicago for Navy Boot Camp graduation, two trips to Charleston for Navy Nuclear School graduation, and one trip to upset New York for his final graduation.  My son was concerned that I would not be there for his graduations.  I told him nothing would keep me away, and I would be the proudest parent in the room.
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