Should Moms Sell Girl Scout Cookies?

By Charlotte Hilton Anderson, REDBOOK
girl scout cookiesgirl scout cookies

"Excuse me? Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies?"

If you've ever been in a public place during the past several weeks, you too have likely been approached by green-clad pixies waving boxes of Thin Mints. The question didn't surprise me. The questioner did. Looking up from my grocery list, I saw the hand holding the cookies belonged to a middle-aged woman-and there were no Girl Scouts in sight.

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"Oh, our daughters are taking a break," the woman said vaguely.

This recent experience popped into my mind when Paddy Hirsch, senior producer of NPR's Marketplace Money, decreed in this week's show that Girl Scouts are mere "puppets", saying, "I'm told that this Girl Scout cookie experience is supposed to be educational in terms of business and economics. But I just don't see it."

Back when I was participating in the Great Cookie Sale, I remember going door-to-door with my mom watching from the car and feeling really proud of the 20 boxes I sold-that is, until the next meeting when Catherine reported that she sold 300 boxes. As I cried to my mom that evening, she muttered under her breath, "Well, it's because Catherine's dad is the CEO, and he took the sign-up sheet to work with him." So clearly having parents doing the actual sales is a time-honored tradition.

But does this trend of parents doing the work for their children mean that little Scouts aren't learning anything (as Hirsch contends)? Several Girl Scouts beg to differ, saying that while they may not be doing much of the actual business, they are learning "how to be polite and to count money." One Scout's mom added that the act of having to sell cookies helps the girls feel empowered in a business environment, even if their mothers sell the cookies for them. Another mom cites safety concerns about having the girls approach strangers to sell cookies, instead of letting their mothers do it instead. Personally, I'm wondering if this is one more front in the Mompetition wars.

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Calling all former Girl Scouts (or Girl Scout moms!): From cookies to gift wrap, should parents be doing the selling for their kids? Take our quiz:

1) Yes. It's not reasonable to expect young kids to do this.

2) Maybe. Parents should help but not do all the work.

3) No. Parents should supervise, but how will the children learn if their parents won't let them try?

4) Whatever. I'm just sick of kids having to sell stuff all the time.

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