Friday, February 8, 2013

Today is National Girl Scout Cookie Day

I saw on the morning news today that we are celebrating Girl Scout Cookie Day today. The CEO of Girl Scouts, Anna Maria Chávez, called it a "girl entrepreneurial" program. She also called it a "parent-supported" program which allowed girls to grow as individuals. Not sure what world Ms Chávez is living in today, but that is not my experience.

Despite being a Cookie Monster (GS Cookie Coordinator) for my two girls' troops at one time, I'm not a big supporter of the cookie fundraiser. I have issues with Girl Scouts selling cookies to kids and families given the rampant obesity in this country. I also have a problem with many of the ingredients of their cookies. I am not thrilled that the troops get a pretty small portion of those sales either. However, my biggest beef with this program is that it is often parent-driven and not parent-supported.

I was once a Girl Scout and I went door-to-door and sold cookies to my neighbors. I was happy with what I was personally able to contribute to my troop. Nowadays, parents bring the cookie sales sheet to work and bully persuade their colleagues to purchase the cookies to support their daughter's troop. Rarely do the girls actually make an appearance. Not even at delivery. Mom or Dad take care of the whole process from selling, collecting money and delivering. Perhaps this is an entrepreneurial program which teaches the girls how to delegate their responsibilities?

Upon further reflection, it is really not a Girl Scout cookie issue. It is a parenting issue.

Probably as a result of our helicopter parenting, we so desperately want our children to be successful (or at least viewed that way) that we do the work they should be doing. Who hasn't gone to some event at their child's school to see a variety of dioramas knowing full well that the parents did half the work of the children's projects?

I don't mind helping my children with those tasks, but my response is always something like this, "I've already completed 3rd grade. I'm happy to help where you are having difficulty, but this is your project." Do my children's dioramas look as good as the other kids'? Honestly, no they don't - but they did it on their own. The accomplishment is theirs and theirs alone.

By selling those cookies, writing that essay, or building that diorama mostly for our kids versus supporting them, we are teaching our kids that their best isn't good enough to be successful. We are also teaching them that failure is something that is unacceptable or to be feared. How hollow is that Outstanding Cookie Sales Badge victory if they didn't earn it? Does the A they receive on their Colonial diorama project give them any satisfaction or pride if Mom or Dad did the majority of the designing and gluing of the Colonial home and farm?

What about when these kids become adults and are actually responsible for their own success and failure? Many of these kids will never had experienced personal failure until adulthood. Failure is part of life, part of learning and growing as a person. I suspect this next generation is going to have a difficult time dealing with the inevitable missteps they will experience in life.

I have to confess that I did buy some Girl Scout cookies from my neighbor's child, Sophia, despite not liking the cookie program. Why? She dressed up in her uniform, knocked on my door and asked for the sale. Her mother was behind her, supporting her but not doing it for her. She was proud of herself, despite needing some help figuring out what change to give back.

The accomplishment was hers, as it should be.

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