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When your child wants to join an organization you aren't so sure about

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Getting involved

There's a certain national organization for boys (and a similar but unrelated program for girls) that is great for teaching all sorts of life skills and outdoor skills. It's a fine organization, truly. It's just not my kind of thing, or my husband's.

Getting involved

When the fliers came home when Alfs was in first grade and expressed some interest, my husband and I had a long talk about it. He didn't have a particularly good experience in the organization and I'd had a terrible experience in the girls' organization. We decided we would neither promote it or dissuade. We'd gauge true interest and if our son was deeply interested we'd give it a try. I admit, we hoped there'd be no real interest.

Alfs never expressed interest beyond the day the flier came home. Woody, either - until later. Woody spent most of second grade asking to join, and we agreed that if he was still interested in 3rd grade, we'd sign him up. At the beginning of 3rd grade, we swallowed our personal experience and signed him up.

Keep an open mind

If your son or daughter wants to join an organization you might not have picked, consider carefully what the issues are and keep an open mind. I readily admit that my issues are my issues, not my son's. What was not so great for my husband or me might be fabulous for him. In that sense I had to separate the issues - and just get over my own already.

I was resistant. I kept asking, "Are you sure?" I figured since we already made an effort to take the kids camping, teach them all sorts of things, this organization would be moot. But it turns out (and, really, I already knew this), it was about more than just the skills.

Research

Not all branches of a national organizations are the same. To make the best, most informed decision about the group your child wants to join, you need to do some research, and even if you already feel an positive affinity for the organization. Talk to the leaders, and talk to other parents. Make sure it's all you believe it to be. Unless an organization's foundations are egregiously opposed to yours, it's probably worth a try.

Support

Now that we have made the commitment for Woody to join this group, we are all in. We have kept our minds open, researched, swallowed our own issues...and met some really nice people. Our son is having lots of fun and learning a lot. I'm not saying we don't still feel twinges of discomfort, but we live with them. The most important thing is that Woody is happy and he is learning new things. If he changes his mind at some point in the future, we'll deal with that and continue to support him. But for now, we're good.

Now, does anyone want to buy some popcorn?

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