Guest Post: A Sad Lesson For Two Little Girl Scouts

I’m delighted to feature Deborah Lynn as a guest blogger today. Check out her wonderful bio at the end of the post. I LOVE this post and would appreciate it if you’d help spread it far and wide. Tell your friends. Comment. Tell Deborah that she’s on the right track here and that we all need to realize what growth experiences our kids are missing out on when we step in and “help” like this.

The email was titled, “Girl Scout Cookies” but it could have read, “Band Candy” or any other item kids are selling these days.  It read:

“I was going to take Sally and Betsy around the neighborhood, but I do not see that happening today.  Sally and Betsy are in the first year of Girl Scouts and are selling cookies if anyone would like to order.  They are $3.50 a box and money is not due until the cookies arrive in Feb.  If you are not a cookie eater you could donate your order to the charity.  The girls’ Daisy Troop has picked Charity One as their charity.  John Doe lives there and that is who their school is named after.”  (altered slightly to protect the innocent)

What’s wrong with this email?  We all have received them at home and at work.  The problem with this email is that it eliminates the wonderful lessons Girl Scouts learn from the process of selling Girl Scout Cookies. I remember putting on my uniform and my Brownie beanie and going from door to door with my little order form asking people to buy cookies.  What I learned from selling Girl Scout Cookies is that raising money for any cause takes a fair amount of work, a lot of it from me.

I had to attend the meetings to understand the process (what cookies were available, which ones were new, how much they cost, when they would arrive, how and when people could pay for the cookies, what we would be using the money for), plan my sales route, organize my forms, make sure I had a pen, understand basic math for the ordering process, and be responsible enough to get all of the money and the orders turned in on time and correctly so that people would get their cookies. I also had to understand scheduling so that I could pick up the cookies when they arrived and deliver them to all the people who ordered them from me.

I maybe even had to understand good communications, relationship building and negotiation to convince one of my Girl Scout friends to combine forces and go with me. If we did that, then we also had to figure out who got to sell at which house. Back then, Mom and Dad were not involved in much of the process except helping with transportation here and there. It was our deal and we were responsible for it. In the day, we used a lot of the proceeds locally and regionally to support the Girl Scouts. This was my contribution to an organization that helped me learn and grow.

What this well-meaning mother (and hundreds, maybe thousands, like her all across the country) taught her “first year Girl Scouts” is that someone else will take care of the hard work for them. You don’t need to understand the process.  You don’t need to get your uniform on and go through the work of organizing your forms and making sure you have a pen. You aren’t responsible for collecting the money or understanding how much money to collect if someone wants three boxes. Don’t worry about the date the cookies arrive because someone else, Mom or Dad, will pick them up and deliver them for you. Don’t worry about meeting a minimum number of sales because Mom can send another email if you need to sell a few more boxes.

Worse, Mom may be “helping” you become the top cookie seller through her extensive business and personal email list. What does it take to excel?  Have someone else do it for you.  You don’t need to worry about the details. Mom will handle it.

Perhaps another sad lesson for these little Girl Scouts is that Mom doesn’t have the time to help you understand how to do it yourself, or, worse, doesn’t have confidence in you to do this at all.  Perhaps Mom doesn’t want to be embarrassed that her little girls only sold 10 boxes (and Mom bought 5).

I understand that this isn’t the same world that I grew up in. This is a scarier world where we have to more diligently protect our children. That doesn’t mean that we have to rob them of the rich experiences the events like selling Girl Scout cookies can provide.

Deborah Lynn, the founder of Innovate Your Baby!, is a former fortune 200 executive who left the corporate world to stay home and raise her daughter with innovation.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Kansas; a Master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Northern Iowa and conducted doctoral work at Indiana University in Physiology.  After observing disturbing trends in many children and parents today and seeing these trends translate into increasing issues in the young workforce, Deborah began identifying the problems and building an innovative method for minimizing them beginning at infancy.   Deborah’s science-based techniques help infants learn, grow and thrive through awareness activities, demonstrative learning and lots of time and loving attention.

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6 Responses to “Guest Post: A Sad Lesson For Two Little Girl Scouts”

  1. Lucy says:

    Great post! I’ve always felt responsibility is one of the best gifts we can give our kids, although certainly not easy. (It’s so much easier to do it for them!) Think how proud and responsible a child feels when they’ve successfully (or not) completed a “growth experience,” such as selling Girl Scout cookies. Thanks for writing this, Deborah!

  2. Kathy says:

    Lucy, well said. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  3. Diane says:

    the same idea as making (or remaking) their beds, doing their school projects, and answering adults’ questions to them….robs them of their self- confidence and effort to try harder themselves. great post, thanks!

  4. Yep! “Mom will do it anyway, so why try?”

  5. Cindy says:

    Having responsibility is so important for kids - and giving it to them is our responsibility. Diane, you got it: when we take over, we may think we’re helping, but we’re really robbing them of learning opportunities. I’d rather my kids learn these essential lessons over a box of Girl Scout Cookies, than at a first job! Thanks for the great post!

  6. Cindy, you should be a parenting blogger. Truly. Your insights are always spot on, and you have so much good advice to share!

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