So I recently became aware that one of the parents of a boy in our troop believes that I am too strict and too hard on her son. She thinks I'm picking on her boy. The situation is that her son misbehaves during activities and camp outs, often being loud and disturbing other campers and troops late into the night at district events. He doesn't pay much attention during scout meetings, often leading the other boys down a disruptive track as well. The issue is that this boy also happens to be our senior patrol leader, and holds an important leadership position within our church as well. We have a small troop, consisting of six boys total, and the other boys are not currently capable of fulfilling these roles that this boy fills.

All I've been doing is reminding the boy of his leadership positions and his responsibility to behave better as an example to others. I remind him he needs to wear his uniform, which he never does. He also has just one requirement to fulfill to earn his next rank, but he doesn't take the time to fulfill it. He cannot advance in his current rank or any other without first fulfilling it. It's not one he can do with the troop as it requires a short amount of time with his parents. Instead he claims "he's busy" with extracurricular activities at school, ones I know do not take up all of his time at home.

I don't believe that I am wrong in holding him accountable to the standards he should be setting for the other boys. The unit committee is supportive of my actions as well. My question is am I wrong in holding him to a higher standard? In all reality, I'm not handling his behavior any differently than I am the other boys. What suggestions would you give me in handling this parent and child? We need his participation and this parent's support, but she doesn't seem to want to give it, which is influencing her son's desires to participate.

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Disclaimer: I'm not involved in BSA, but I do run my church's boys' group, which in a lot of ways is similar to BSA.

Going off what you shared here, you seem to be doing the right thing. Have you explained to his parents that he is behaving in a way unbecoming of his position, and what he needs to do to advance? They may be only hearing what their boy tells them. If you have made any threats of punishment, be prepared to act on them. If you haven't, you may want to start, along with the promise of reward if he does well.

I do an inspection every meeting on Wednesday. They get a point for every category I can check off for them, and every quarter I give a modest prize to the boy with the most points. One of those is for dress code. Maybe you could use something like that as incentive for him to wear his uniform.

A good question.

One thing that I'm sure has contributed to the sore attitude I've been receiving has been my reaction to a bullying event that occurred during one of our activities. This boy had been discovered to be leading some others in bullying another boy, and after a swift end to the activity for the day, as most of the troop participated in the bullying, each of the parents of the boys involved were contacted. Most of the boys' parents were appreciative of our actions, but this parent never reacted in any sort of way. Only recently did I learn she didn't think her boy was actually involved in the bullying, even though I know it to be true as I saw it with my own eyes. The general feeling amongst those on the committee is that this parent may be one that doesn't think her child could do anything wrong. However, as the one who discovered the bullying and enacted punishment (i.e ending the activity and sending the boys home, contacting their parents) I seem to be the one this parent wants to find issues with. I'm not he only leader but I am the only one keeping order and discipline. This has been discussed by the committee and will be addressed so that I am not the only leader to discipline the boys for misbehavior, in an attempt to perhaps remove the focus on me.

She is not complaining to me about the situation at all. She is complaining to others on the committee and while not explicitly saying it, seems to be implying that she no longer wants my participation in the program. She's said she is beginning to think that she doesn't want to send her boys--she has two in the troop--to attend scout meetings so long as I'm involved. However as I've said before, the unit committee doesn't see the things she's complaining about nor do they see that I've done anything wrong.

I wouldn't say that it is debilitating just yet. I'm just trying to find ways that I could diffuse the issue before things aren't repairable any longer.

His leadership position in the church is irrelevant. Judge his actions in the troop, by the standards of the troop, and what is best for it.

The standards of the troop are heavily influenced by those of our church as the troop as it consists at the moment is a uni-denominational unit. The same boys he leads at church are the same boys he leads in Scouts. While it would be nice to separate the two, in the minds of the boys, and due to human nature, separating the two simply isn't as easy as it sounds.

That's one reason I've long argued that the Troops should not be hosted or otherwise organized by churches. But that's my own hang up with the BSA, and sadly, why despite being a scout myself, it is unlikely my son will be one. 

Good luck! I'll be following the thread to see where things end up. 

That does make it tricky.  But it sounds like he can't advance due to his own lack of care.  Hold him to the specifications just like every other boy.

What does the young man think? 

It sounds to me like your focus is where it should be - on helping the boys grow and develop into good young men.  But how are the boys responding?  Is the kid in question responding well, is he still acting up or is he changing for the better?  If your actions are helping him to get better, then it sounds like the problem is just with the mom.  If the kid hasn't changed his behavior for the better, then you might want to re-evaluate your methods - but not because the mom is complaining.  It may be that she is seeing his reaction to your discipline as being counterproductive, but she may not be expressing her concerns as well.  Remember Kipling:

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too; 

From what you've written here, it sounds like you are acting appropriately, especially since the committee is backing you on this.  But just make sure you are getting the results you want.

I am a Cub Scout leader.

If the guy can't, let him fail.  As a Cub Scout Leader I believe Boy Scouts is the time to let them, lead, fail and learn. 

Hold him to the Scout Law.  If he is too busy to take the the time, he does not want it.  You may be the first real wall he hits.  This may actually teach him you can't talk your way through things.

A grade is a grade in school.  A project takes real time and work.  Better to learn it before college.

I use the Scout Law when ever I discipline the boys.  My discipline is to ask the boys how what they are doing follows the Scout Law.  I'm sure the boy in question is failing at "Trustworthy, Loyal"  The parents are pushing you to break "Obedient".


I have found the Scout Law and oath fairly solid.  We can argue interpretations on a few points.  That understood, most actual points where you have to step up and discipline / regulate the boys it works well.

The Scout Law for those who might not remember / know.

A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.
A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.
A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.
A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.
A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.
A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.
A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.
A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for unforeseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.
A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.
A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.
A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.


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