Sunday, March 31, 2013

Should 4-H leaders also be parents?

I know this is going to be one of those question that may bring about some heated discussion.  Please remember as you respond that its ok to have a different idea on situations.  I blog to learn not to put anyone down. 

I have been involved in different programs where I was the parent and the leader.  I of course got involved because I wanted to be actively engaged in my children's interest.  When leading though I had to be a leader to all my just my own child.  Luckily I was not in a position where I was separated from my child.  I see in 4h shows and activities that the leader has to be mom/dad and a leader all at the same time.  How do you balance the two?  If you are getting your child ready how do you help the other children.  I think its a pretty tough job to be 10 different places at once.  You can't serve every ones needs.  As a parent our first responsibilities are to our own children.

So whats your thoughts how do you do it?  Also would it be easier if you didn't have a person investment such as a child?


  1. I am a horse 4H leader and currently have my daughter in my club. For two years, both my son and daughter were in my club. My own kids know that as soon as that meeting starts, they are the same as every other kid there and I am at that time, their 4H leader. I have to admit though, that I do tend to be more critical of my own kids and certainly more nervous when they are in the ring. I love being a leader and am really grateful that my kids can be a part of it with me. In fact, I started as a leader because I wasn't able to find a club nearby that was a good fit for my 12 year old son. For me, I don't really find the parent/leader thing to be too much of struggle but I have great kids in my group and amazing parents who are really, really supportive and there to lend a hand either getting my daughter into the ring or making sure another kid is where they need to be.

  2. Absolutely NOT, If you have a child in a 4h club you should most certainly NOT be an advisor unless you are advising an area in which you child is NOT competing! I have gone through all my 4h years with two advisors that had their children in 4h and they were advising the horse groups. Let me tell you that as a child in the same 4h group as those two children I was almost completely ignored. The only time I was given any help was when I pestered them for help and I realized in my very first year that both advisors were giving me all the wrong information. They were setting me up to fail because they knew I was a threat to their daughters. The only useful information I was ever given by those advisors was when I figured out how to pit them against eachother. One had a daughter competing in English events and the other's daughter was sticking to western, So I went to the one who didn't care if I entered the english classes and asked her for a few lessons and she gave me all the right advice and worked hard to help me beat the other advisors daughter. Aside from that I was constantly being told that I couldn't do what I wanted. Constantly told by both advisors to give up. Told that my horse was no good and couldn't do what I wanted him to and never would be able to. When it came to the contesting portion of the county fair I even had an advisor set me up to fail for my class! They went and checked everyone's girths to make sure they were all secure and tight enough to be running. I was sure my girth was fine however one of the advisors checked mine and told me it was far too loose and she cranked it up so tight that when I went to loosen it after the sabotaged class I could barely get it undone. I almost had to cut it off my poor horse. We went into the class and I knew I was in trouble and the girth was too tight about halfway down the stretch to the first pole in the pole bending class. At the first pole my horse just lost it and started bucking and rearing almost toppling backwards. After wards when the advisors came around to tighten girths for each class I would always re loosen it after they cranked mine up and as long as mine was where I wanted it my horse did amazing. I will never be a supporter of 4h advisors advising the same subject that their children are competing in. it is far too easy to play favorites and in my case was absolute madness. 4h is not a place where kids are to be put down and put in danger. 4h should be a place for kids to learn in a safe environment with equal chance to do well! I never reported these advisors to the board as I knew they were retiring from the 4h board as soon as I was out of 4h anyway and I wanted so desperately to prove them wrong and kick their butts with my horse that I trained myself and my riding which for the most part I learned myself. I just wanted to beat their professionally trained dirt sniffers and their expensively clad daughters that have had lessons since the day they could climb on a horse. It was good for me for motivation but incredibly unfair and unacceptable for 4h.