The Power to Sit On Your Hands

“If Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer were alive today, we’d say they had ADD or a conduct disorder. They [boys] are who they are, and we need to love them for who they are. Let’s not try to rewire them.” — Michael Gurian

by Pete Ferguson

In our Boy Scout troop I am responsible for helping teach boys age 12-14. Lately the push has been to ensure the boys are the leaders, we are only to advise and help them, but we are not to take over.

I know I am getting wiser as I get older because I find I have a lot more patience to sit back and watch the show than in my earlier years.

Yesterday there was a very simple organization needing to take place. It was a bit comical to watch the circus of constant change as six boys tried to do something that should have been very easy.

Each wanted to weigh in their thoughts, take charge and change the order in which we were to carry out the task. I sat patiently, amused, and for once in my life – quiet. Normally I have an opinion, and I normally voice it quickly.

I am an expert at efficiency and like to see things done expeditiously.

But amazingly, I was able to just be. To just listen.

Eventually, they got it figured out and I did as I was told.

And I learned a very important truth – that while part of life is to march forward boldly with goals and definitive plans, when it comes to raising men, it is just as important to sit on your hands, keep your mouth shut, and allow them to make mistakes and learn from them.

It is as much of a science as it is an art. And I’m not an expert. But I have two boys counting on me to figure it out – to help them figure life out.

And it is a great lesson for me as I watch them learn.

A boy’s story is the best that is ever told. ~ Charles Dickens

Oh yeah … and I have a LOT to learn about my three daughters as well …


2 thoughts on “The Power to Sit On Your Hands

  1. Thanks Pete, I really enjoyed your post. Lately I have been working on this very intentionally. It’s been very difficult as I have always been a doer and a busy body. Even know, I have to let my 2 year old daughter explore her surroundings, not just where I place her. When cooking with my nephews, I have to let them experiment and I stay silent. It’s the best lesson.

    Much of my life has been enabeling people beacause I would do it all, thinking that I would be a great help to them. It was very detrimental to them, and especially myself.

    Thanks Pete,


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