Some time ago I wrote this blog post about the discomfort I felt about my daughter wanting to join the Rainbows. I thought it was about time I gave you all an update.
So what happened? Did I put my personal beliefs to one side and allow my daughter to join the Girl Guides?
The short answer is yes, Helen briefly joined the Rainbows. This, however, lead on to the most bizarre situation I have faced as a stay at home dad and parent.
You see, I, John Adams, a man, ended up joining the Girl Guides. Yes, you read that correctly. I was in a strange twist, admitted to join the lofty ranks of an organisation that doesn’t admit men or boys. What’s even stranger is that I didn’t even ask to join, it just happened through a bizarre bureaucratic anomaly.
You’re probably wondering what on Earth I’m rambling on about so let me start at the beginning. Helen was keen to join the Rainbows. I was uncomfortable with this as I don’t believe such organisations should be segregated along gender lines.
The Scouting Association has been admitting girls and women for best part of two decades (with one exception; women have been admitted to the Venture Scouts since 1976). By holding out against the tides of change, I believe the Guiding movement sends out a message to girls that they are either superior or need special treatment.
That said, I wasn’t the one trying to join the Guides, it was my daughter. There was also no Scout group for her to join in the locality. My wife and I decided she could join, but that we’d try and steer her towards the Scouts at a later date.
There was a catch. The only way Helen could join was if a willing parent or two agreed to attend each weekly meeting. Quite sensibly there was an adult-to-child ratio and more adults were needed to meet this. As I happened to have a valid Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) certificate, I volunteered and my offer of help was duly accepted.
Under the Guide’s rules, however, I had to be DBS checked again. It was a mild irritation, but I understood the need and willingly gave up an hour of my time to go through the process.
This is where things get really interesting. Shortly afterwards, my new DBS certificate arrived. So did a letter welcoming me to the Guides and with it, a membership card. The letter made clear that a swift flash of my membership card would secure me a discount at numerous high street stores.
Receiving the membership card came as a total surprise. I hadn’t asked to join. I hadn’t filled in a membership form. It just happened. It seems volunteers are automatically enrolled, even if they have the incorrect chromosomes.
I mentioned this to ‘Hedgehog,’ the leader of the Rainbows group. Her response was very amusing.
“Oh it’s brilliant,” she said, “that membership card gets you a discount at all sorts of shops.”
“But I’m a man,” I replied, “I can’t use a Girl Guide membership card!”
My membership will soon lapse. It is, however, entirely academic. After a while Helen decided the Rainbows wasn’t for her and she moved on to other things. She’s a little bit older now and if she expresses an interest in future, I’ll politely suggest she becomes a Scout. Who knows, she may agree? A couple of her friends are members. As she’s a bit older, it would be easier to get her into one of the nearby groups.
I’m sure you can understand why that was my weirdest parenting moment. I guess it’s kinda unique, the sort of scenario that only a stay at home dad could find himself in.
What’s your weirdest parenting moment? We’ve all had them and I’m sure some of you must have some real gems to tell.
Pic credit: Christliche Pfadfinder, reproduced under Creative Commons agreement.
13 thoughts on “Weird parenting moment; the day I joined the Girl Guides”
hee hee. Did you ever use the discount card? #brilliantblogposts
Oh I love this! Very funny #brilliantblogposts
Indeed, I have been the subject of many jokes and I can see exactly why.
I can imagine that must have been quite a weird moment! I can’t quite imagine you as a Girl Guide somehow!
Louise, I can’t imagine myself as a Girl Guide….but I am one. Trust me, it’s weirder for me than you!
I’m quite jealous…I was never a girl guide..although clearly it’s not too late, they seem to let anyone in these days 😉 Quite like the sound of that discount card too…just think of the savings I could make in 90 minutes of shopping! 😉
Nice work #cooldadclub
Well, yes, only thing is I’d blow all the savings made in 90 minutes on homebrewing equipment at Wilko as that was, from memory, one of the stores that offered a discount.
Love this – you must have been so ‘delighted’ to get your welcome pack! Are you not tempted to climb to the ranks to Hedgehog? Hedgehog?! #brilliantblogposts
In a word….no. I did, however, consider bringing the system down from the inside!
Heh, that is odd. Still, at least you weren’t required to turn up in a dress … 🙂
I’m pretty sure you could easily rock the girl guides look and tell everyone you were in British Sea Power!
Late to the party, but …
Men can be members of Girlguiding, and they can be Unit Helpers. There is nothing strange about this! They can’t be leaders, but there is nothing to stop them playing a useful and active part in the organisation if they wish.
I’m glad you decided to let your daughter try Rainbows. One of the things that GirlGuiding is very keen on, is girl-led Guiding. Even at the youngest ages the girls are encouraged to make choices and this is respected by the leaders.
Nearly all of modern life is gender-neutral. No doubt your daughter goes to a mixed school, so she is not short of exposure to co-ed experiences.
Tor me it’s great that Guiding is still girls only. Different units vary widely in how “girly” they are – some are very active and emphasise the out-of-doors, some are gentler and focus more on crafts etc. The official guidance says that a balanced, fun programme that suits the girls and is to some extent chosen by them, is the aim.
At primary school age, boys tend to be noisier, more boisterous and dominant than girls in a mixed group. At secondary school age, girls are subjected to an increasingly sexualised world and may find interacting with boys problematic. A girls-only space once a week can be a haven for girls where they can just be themselves without having to compete or “be attractive”. Would you ban this?
Scouting numbers were is steep decline before the Scouts decided to admit girls to all sections. Even now, when Scouting is open to all and Guiding is girls only, the number of members of each organisation is roughly equal in the UK. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.
Having said all this, I am all for girls joining Beavers, Cubs or Scouts if that’s what they prefer. Choice is a great thing!
And of course if there’s no mixed group of Beavers, Cubs or Scouts in your area, I’m sure Scouting would be thrilled for you to start one …
Thanks for commenting and well thought out comments they are too! I fear, however, I am not persuaded. I would love to comment at more length but I’m in the midst of a fraught week so will have to pick it up another time.