How to deal with parental ultimatums

parentultimatumThe Dilemma

Jake loves everything about Troop 551: the campouts, his friendships with the other Scouts and the chance to escape from a fairly difficult home life. Jake’s dad, Troy, isn’t exactly a bad parent, but he’s always stressed out and often gives Jake a hard time about his homework, his chores and how much time he spends online. Troy also isn’t very supportive of Jake’s Scouting endeavors, although he has never been openly hostile — until recently.

At last month’s court of honor, the Scoutmaster announced he would soon step down after three years of service. Donnie, a fairly new assistant Scoutmaster, would replace him. When Jake’s dad found out, he hit the roof. Evidently, he and Donnie were involved in a legal dispute years ago, and they’ve never reconciled their differences. Now Troy says Jake can’t continue in Scouting if Donnie becomes the Scoutmaster. Since Jake is assistant senior patrol leader, this ultimatum affects Jake and the troop as a whole.

For Discussion

Discuss with your Scouts or Venturers these questions about the dilemma:

  • Do you think Troy is being fair to Jake? Why or why not?
  • If you think he’s being unfair, what could he say that would make you change your mind?
  • If you think he’s being fair, what could Jake say that would make you change your mind?

Next, invite the Scouts or Venturers to think of at least three actions Jake could take. Options could include accepting his dad’s decision, trying to convince him to reconsider, trying to get someone else (like a troop leader) to convince his dad to reconsider and ignoring his dad’s decision (by sneaking out to troop meetings, for example). Have the participants discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each potential action and decide how ethical each is.

For the rest of the discussion, assume Jake wants either to convince his dad to change his mind or get another person to convince his dad to change his mind. Have the group develop a list of arguments that might be effective, then roleplay the discussions that could take place.

Finally, invite the participants to reflect on times in their own lives when a parent has made a decision they disagreed with. Ask them how this discussion might help them in similar situations in the future. 

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