Being a Parent made me a better Guider

>>  Sunday, January 19, 2014

Originally, I think I was a fairly poor Brownie Guider.  I didn't understand the structure of the association and I didn't know what support was really available to me.  I had been an assistant Leader in 2 different units with Guiders in Charge that were my own age.  They were daughters of Guiders, so I guess their mums helped them.  When I was about 21 I found myself alone running a unit.

I think I was fairly rubbish.  I relied a lot on book work. I expected the brownies to be able to read and write, I gave them quizes and anagrams.  We played games and sang songs week after week. 

Finally another Leader's daughter came to my rescue, she was only 18 but again had the support of her mum.  We started to do badge work, went on pack holidays again and joined in with revels (different units joining together for a day). 

I found the travelling to the old unit got harder and I moved to a local Brownie unit where the leaders were parents of young children and the Guider in Charge was very experienced. She had been a Guide Guider, a District Commissioner and run a Ranger unit in her time.  She took me along to district meetings and Guide camps, she had me organising parts of trips and residentials.  I suddenly started to understand the structure, the program, the resources. Even though I had been a leader for 10 years already! 

But I still didn't understand that those cocky 10 year old girls still cuddled up to mum at the end of a day, that those 7 year olds couldn't all read the books, that the 5 year old Rainbows do care about what they wear, that the argumentative pains of the Guides are the ones that need patience and a sense of humour.  That the parents might seem like numskulls or over protective, but I had no empathy about why.

Then I had Cog.

Of course, I've only had her, I don't understand all the other girls on the earth, but she has helped me to learn so much more about so many things I just didn't have any understanding of at all. 

I don't think all Leaders need to be parents to understand what it took parenting to teach me.  I think I was a slow developer, and late to the party (but I've partied fairly hard for a further 15 years so far - so I forgive myself!).  But I didn't have younger siblings, or work in child care, or have remarkable memories from my own childhood to fall back on.

In my Ranger Unit now the 2 leaders are one parent and one not.  I think it makes for a good balance.  There is understanding and drive.

I asked other Guiders whether they thought being a parent makes for a better Guider.

"I have no children but have a lot of experience working with them. I don't believe that being a parent therefore makes you a better leader, it's all about experience whether that's with your own or other people's children. I think everyone looks at things differently but sometimes it helps to have an unbiased view of those without children of unit age in the same way that sometimes it's useful to have the view of parents."

"I'm 19 and have no children...I work in a school as a T.A (with children age 5-11) and know what is trendy and what is not with the kids at that moment. I also have a sister who is 8 years younger than me. I don't think I look at things differently to anyone who has children. From a young age I have been brought up around other children, I have done babysitting and as I said now work in a school and have done for nearly 3 years. People think because I am a younger leaders that I don't understand the girls. I don't listen to them. My Brownies have a great relationship with me and like the fact that I know what they like and dislike and that I can relate to them a bit better because I'm a bit younger."

"I was a leader before kids and had lots more time and energy. Was a leader after kids and appreciated more what they can and cannot do at each stage. We too have a leader without kids and we make a good balance. I don't think with or without makes you a better leader."

"I am definitely a better leader for having kiddies - for me personally it has made me realise the need to keep the girls better occupied, and it has made me better at keeping the girls in check when they're being rowdy! I think that has a lot to do with confidence more than anything, because if you can handle having children, you can handle anything!!"

"I became a Guider over 30 years ago. Not knowing if I would be come a parent or not. I feel that over the years I have understood guides to the best of my ability. Something I still do to this day
Not been able to have children of my own, I have dedicated my life to guiding."

That last lady left me in awe, imagine dedicating your life to other people's Guide age girls!  Wow.  And she's still standing!!
I like to think I am a better leader now, but I'll always be assistant material.  I find the responsibiliy zaps my brain power, it stops me being able to paper wrap corks or tie 30 bow wings.  We each have something to bring to the party and the colourful rainbow of all the different types of leaders we are mixes together to make us a beautiful blue.


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