When Values Conflict
Is bad behavior ever a good response to bad behavior?
Illustration by Jacob Thomas
PARENTS AND CHILDREN share all sorts of things: a mailing address, DNA, common experiences, and the occasional cold or flu bug. But that doesn’t mean they always share the same values.
Though the home is where kids learn values, it doesn’t qualify as the only place they learn. Time spent at their place of worship, in Scouting, in the classroom, and on the playground also imparts values. And sometimes, those values clash with the ones their parents hold.
Conflicting values can lead to tension between parents and kids—tension that escalates when kids act on their beliefs. Scout leaders can ease this tension by helping Scouts understand how to react when their values conflict with their parents’ values.
Imagine This Scenario
Fifteen-year-old Stephen Brock and his family, who are white, have just moved from a small town in Iowa to a suburb of Chicago. As Stephen unpacks his DVDs, the doorbell rings. He answers it and comes face-to-face with a boy about his age that, by appearance, is a Muslim.
The boy introduces himself as Yusuf and says he lives down the street. Stephen doesn’t know how to react. But Yusuf seems friendly enough, so Stephen invites him in. Yusuf helps Stephen unpack boxes, and the two boys soon start chatting like old friends about their favorite movies and TV shows. How much they have in common surprises Stephen.
Things are going great until Stephen’s dad comes home. Mr. Brock demands to know who Stephen’s visitor is, ignores Yusuf when he stands up and extends his hand, and tells Stephen that the boy needs to go home because they have a lot left to unpack.
Yusuf leaves, and Stephen turns to his dad with a look of disbelief. “Why were you so rude to Yusuf?” he asks. “He was just being friendly!”
“I don’t care. I don’t want you associating with people like that.”
“Nice people?” Stephen asks in a sarcastic tone.
Without another word, Stephen storms into his bedroom and slams the door.
Later, Yusuf calls and invites Stephen to go see a movie with him and his friends that weekend. Despite his dad’s instructions, Stephen agrees.
Lead This Discussion
This dilemma begins with a conflict about values (Stephen’s making a Muslim friend) and escalates into a conflict about authority (Stephen’s continuing the friendship against his dad’s wishes). As you discuss the situation with your Scouts, help them consider whether two wrongs ever make a right. Begin by asking the Scouts to identify the two conflicts in the dilemma.