Chapter 3.4: Working with Parents and Guardians
Most parents and guardians are helpful and supportive and sincerely appreciate your time and effort on behalf of their daughters. And you almost always have the same goal, which is to make Girl Scouting an enriching experience for their girls. Encourage them to check out www.girlscouts4girls.org to find out how to expand their roles as advocates for their daughters.
Using “I” Statements
Perhaps the most important tip for communicating with parents/guardians is for you to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. “I” statements, which are detailed in the aMAZE journey for Girl Scout Cadettes, tell someone what you need from her or him, while “you” statements may make the person feel defensive.
Here are some examples of “you” statements:
- “Your daughter just isn’t responsible.”
- “You’re not doing your share.”
Now look at “I” statements:
- “I’d like to help your daughter learn to take more responsibility.”
- “I’d really appreciate your help with registration.”
If you need help with specific scenarios involving parents/guardians,
Arranging Meetings with Parents/Guardians or a Friends-and-Family Network
A parent/guardian meeting, or a meeting of your friends-and-family network (as encouraged in many of the leadership journeys),is a chance for you to get to know the families of the girls in your group. Before the meeting, be sure you and/or your co-volunteers have done the following:
- For younger girls, arranged for a parent, another volunteer, or a group of older girls to do activitieswith the girls in your group while you talk with their parents/guardians (if girls will attend the meeting, too).
- Practiced a discussion on the following: Girl Scout Mission, Promise, and Law; benefits of Girl Scouting for their daughters, including how the GSLEis a world-class system for developing girl leaders; all the fun the girls are going to have; expectations for girls and their parents/guardians; and ideas of how parents and other guardians can participate in and enrich their daughters’ Girl Scout experiences.
- Determined when product sales (including Girl Scout Cookie sales) will happen in your council; parents/guardians will absolutely want to know!
- Determined what information parents should bring to the meeting.
- Used the Friends and Family pages provided in the adults guides for many of the journeys, or created your own one-page information sheet (contact information for you and co-volunteers and helpers, the day and time of each meeting, location of and directions to the meeting place, what to bring with them, and information on how to get a journey’s resources (books, awards, and keepsakes) and other merchandise like sashes, vests, T-shirts, and so on).
- Gathered or created supplies, including a sign-in sheet, an information sheet, permission forms for parents/guardians (also available from your council), health history forms (as required by your council), and GSUSA registration forms.
- Prepared yourself to ask parents and guardians for help, being as specific as you can about the kind of help you will need (the journey’s Friends and Family pages will come in handy here!)
You’re free to structure the parent/guardian meeting in whatever way works for you, but the following structure works for many new volunteers:
As the girls and adults arrive, ask them to sign in. Hand out registration formsand any other paperwork, including a one-page information sheet.
- Policy:To register a group, there must be at least 5 girls registering from more than one family. Exceptions may be made in extenuating circumstances due to the girl population of the area. This decision will be made by the CEO or designee.
- Policy: At least 2 adults are required to register with each troop and be present at every troop meeting and activity. At least one registered adult must be female and not related to the other adults.
- Open the meeting by welcoming the girls and adults. Introduce yourself and other co-volunteers or helpers. Have adults and girls introduce themselves, discuss whether anyone in their families has been a Girl Scout, and talk about what Girl Scouting means to them. Welcome everyone, regardless of experience, and let them know they will be learning about Girl Scouts today. (If you’re new to Girl Scouting, don’t worry—just let everyone know you’ll be learning about Girl Scouting together!)
- Ask the girls to go with the adult or teen in charge of their activity and begin the discussion.
Discuss the information you prepared for this meeting:
- All the fun girls are going to have!
- When and where the groupwill meet and some examples of activitiesthe girls might choose to do
- That a parent/guardian permission form is used for activitiesoutside the group’s normal meeting time and place and the importance of completing and returning it
- How you plan to keep in touch with parents/guardians (e-mail, text messaging, a phone tree, fliers the girls take home, posting on an invitation-only group you create on Facebook are just some ideas)
- The Girl Scout Mission, Promise, and Law
- The Girl Scout program, especially what the GSLEis and what the program does for their daughters
- When Girl Scout Cookies(and other products) will go on sale and how participation in product sales teaches life skillsand helps fund group activities
- The cost of membership, which includes annual GSUSA dues, any group payments (ask your council), optional uniforms, and any resources parents/guardians will need to buy (such as a girl’s book for a journey)
- The availability of financial assistance and how the Girl Scout Cookie Program and other product sales generate funds for the grouptreasury
- That families can also make donations to the council—and why they might want to do that!
- That you may be looking for additional volunteers, and in which areas you are looking (be as specific as possible!)
- Inform the parents that the council offers online registration for membership which can be found at register.gs-top.org, or they may use paper registration forms. Collect paper forms, if used.
- Remind the group of the next meeting (if you’ll have one) and thank everyone for attending. Hold the next meeting when it makes sense for you and your co-volunteers—that may be in two months if face-to-face meetings are best, or not at all if you’re diligent about keeping in touch with parents/guardians via e-mail, phone calls, or some other form of communication.
- After the meeting, follow up with any parents/guardians who did not attend, to connect them with the group, inform them of decisions, and discuss how they can best help the girls.