It seems almost diabolical that Girl Scouts sell their cookies right after The New Year. Isn’t that when I’m wholeheartedly pursuing a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight gained from Holiday indulgences? It’s just not fair to be faced with mouth-watering Thin Mints that don’t make my waistline thin! Are Thin Mints my weakness? Hmm, let’s just say I’m supporting a good cause! That cause is a $700 million cookie selling fundraiser which the Girl Scout website dubs as “the largest girl-led business in the country”. Wait a minute. The key words here are “girl-led”. This doesn’t explain the office emails that parents send stating “see me today to buy Girl Scout cookies”, or the mother who whipped out her checkbook to write a $300 check fulfilling the troop leaders suggested quota. If selling cookies is supposed to be “girl-led”, can someone please tell me why so many parents are outright selling the cookies for their daughters? This scenario is on my top 10 list of parenting blunders. Here’s why.
The Girl Scouts Website states that “The activity of selling cookies is directly related to our purpose of helping all girls realize their full potential and become strong, confident, and resourceful citizens.” “Girl Scouts learn life skills and are able to realize their goals—and they have fun!” And, “Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program girls develop five essential skills: Goal setting, Decision making, Money management, People skills, and Business ethics.
I wonder if parents realize that when they sell the cookies for their daughters, they may be robbing them of an opportunity for personal growth. Sure, I know that parents want to help their daughters, as well as the organization, so let’s look at some ways in which they can do this without actually harming them:
1. Support your Girl Scout in setting realistic goals. Our world is full of varying personalities each with strengths and weaknesses. Some Scouts may be natural born sellers while others timidly approach the subject. Many a Girl Scout is motivated to sell cookies because the back of the sales form list prizes she can earn based upon the number of boxes she sells. Sometimes, troop leaders will assign a sales figure to each Scout. Since parents know their daughters better than anyone else, they are in the perfect position to guide their daughters to approach the selling by setting realistic personal goals. This isn’t about competing with other troop members or attaining the most expensive prize. It is all about a girl learning where her comfort zone is, respecting it, stretching it where she is able, and answering to herself based on her capabilities. Done effectively, she is strengthening herself and offering this strength to her organization, not to mention other leadership situations.
2. Assist your daughter in creating a marketing plan. No, you don’t have to be a marketing expert for this. You just need to coach your daughter about the selling process including venues or opportunities that are realistic. Will your daughter go door to door? Which adult or responsible older sibling will accompany her to assure her safety and render moral support? Will your daughter sell cookies in your office lobby or outside a grocery store (after receiving permission of course)? Maybe she will opt to craft an email campaign using her own words. What will her sales speech include? Will she be able to total amounts on her own or will she need a calculator? How will she safely store cash and checks during the sales process? Do pose these questions to your daughter and answer them for her only if she gets stuck on her own. With these types of questions, parents can teach their kids to think ahead, create a plan, and execute that plan successfully. These are very important life skills and it just so happens that the Girl Scout website states that “Many successful business women today say they got their start selling Girl Scout Cookies.”
3. Do not sell the cookies for your daughter. Do not sell the cookies for your daughter. Do not sell the cookies for your daughter. C’mon folks. Would you take your daughter’s math test for her so she gets an “A”? You wouldn’t because you want your daughter to learn the math for her present and future benefit. Then please let your daughter gain the knowledge and life skills that will benefit her by allowing her to be her own sales force. No one said you couldn’t support her, but by doing the actual selling, you are depriving her of a beautiful opportunity from which she could gain all the benefits outlined earlier in paragraph 3. Some parents feel sorry for their daughters and help them with sales so that the desired prize is attained. They may also rationalize parental selling by telling themselves that they are raising awareness and necessary funding for the Girl Scout Organization. Though these reasons might be commended, they fall behind the first and foremost parenting priority of raising a daughter with strong life skills.
4. Lastly, when the cookie campaign has ended and the last of the boxes has been delivered (ahem… the (supervised) girls need to be responsible for this too), parents can dutifully review successes and or opportunities for growth with their Scouts. A heartfelt “I am so proud of you” should be rendered for girls who met their goal and for those who didn’t meet their goal but gave it their genuine best shot. Ask your daughters how they feel and let them revel in the sensation of success. For those Scouts who fell short of their goal or action plan, a parent can be a vital beacon who creates dialogue to encourage and teach their daughter how to identify strengths and utilize them in future goals. Any way you look at it, the Girl Scout Cookie Campaign is an exceptional opportunity to create a 3 way “win-win”. The Girl Scout organization wins. Parents win, and most importantly, the Girl Scout wins. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
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