The Strawberry Patch

Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross


 There might be a difference of opinion in the matter regarding children attending chapter meetings, and other activities. In this matter, as in all consideration, courtesy would be a prime consideration. Courtesy is the ability to think of another person in terms of her own needs, and to think of her first. It is the way in which chapter meetings, business meetings, committee meetings, service projects and socials . . . . . every phase of Beta Sigma Phi should be handled.

 Protocol is an outward expression of good manners in an atmosphere of friendliness and courtesy. It is practical and purposeful, reflecting mutual respect and mutual consideration. Protocol promotes orderly procedure and good relations among members at all levels, and in view of the office a person holds. Personal likes and dislikes are not considered.

 All members of Beta Sigma Phi make a personal effort, as well as the financial effort, to attend chapter meetings and other activities, during which time they accept the privileges along with the responsibilities of membership. There are the vows accepted at the time they participate in the Pledge Ritual. It is right they should expect a good and well organized business meeting, and informative and interesting cultural programs, and the opportunity to devote full time and attention to the meetings and other activities they attend. Beta Sigma Phis are known to be courteous, thoughtful and considerate at all times. Therefore, it is a courtesy to the hostess, to the President who is conducting the meeting, and to the members who are responsible for the preparation and planning of the cultural program, to receive full attention from the members attending.

 All of us know when there is a child, or children present, they, without trying, "steal the show" and are the stars. If there are children attending it is only natural they would create a different atmosphere, and perhaps disrupt the trend of thought for the presiding officer, or members presenting the programs, and distract the members from giving their full attention.

 In correspondence received from another chapter having this situation, the matter was settled by obtaining one baby sitter for the children of the members, who could not leave them at home with members of the family, or with a sitter. Then, the cost of the baby sitter was divided by the members.

 In another case, the hostess arranged for a special room in her home, where the children could be kept away from the chapter meeting during the business and cultural program presentation. This could be handled in a similar way a childcare program is set up for churches and Sunday school meetings, and some offices where mothers can bring children.

 If through discussion the matter is not satisfactorily agreed upon, we suggest a secret ballot vote, with the majority rule. I have no doubt the members will want to decide upon the plan which would be the most acceptable to the majority of members, and they will be grateful for your guidance in bringing them to a solution and will want to abide by it. It is understandable there would not be complete agreement-but, this would be true on most any subject the members might discuss, or any matter to be presented to the chapter. So, then we must find the next best arrangement, which would naturally be the majority rule.

....The Torch of Beta Sigma Phi

Dear Maggie,
 We have a member who recently had a child, and who is now bringing that child to most of the meetings. (I'm afraid to say anything to her because she had such a difficult time during pregnancy, and almost lost the baby at one point.) The baby has been brought to four out of the last five meetings, and it's been difficult to conduct a business meeting with an infant in the midst. We have several other members who are pregnant, and this situation could get out of hand easily. Most of our members have older children, and would like a night out that doesn't include babies at our meetings. We have several socials that include our children. How can we approach this situation without offending?
 Cheated Out of a Night Without Children

Dear Cheated,
 I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Children don't belong at a sorority meeting. They are as out of place as a mother is in a sandbox. A mother deserves a night out without children. She needs adult relationships. If this member's husband won't baby-sit one night, maybe you can suggest a sitter. I think a child can benefit from a night without Mother, too! There's a special bond between a mother and her child, but when she takes the child to a meeting, she can easily turn that meeting into a mass baby-sitting session.

 From Beta Sigma Phi's President, Laura Ross Wingfield:

"Usually when we get requests about children at meetings we remind them that Beta Sigma Phi is for women and children are not allowed at meetings without being invited. However we also make suggestions on how they might work through the problem to everyone's benefit.

The most common suggestions are to have the children come to one members home and have one baby sitter they will split the fee for or if there are one or more older children of members who are old enough for this kind of responsibility who can watch them to be the designated sitters and be paid a nominal fee for their trouble.

We also mention that because chapter meetings are at set dates and times, that usually the husband can watch the child for long enough for the meeting. I know from my own chapter that not all husbands will take this responsibility even though it is their child, but most will if asked. If a woman needs the organization and we believe most mothers do, she will try to work something out. It helps if the chapter can work with her and make arrangements like those above or look at local options and decide what might work best. But the emphasis should be for all sisters in the chapter to work together to come with the best plan to allow the mothers to attend the meetings without their children while insuring their children are taken care of.

Sometimes in the situations where the sitter is a member's child or children, the kids do come to the house where the meeting is held but are supervised in another area of the house leaving the members free to hold their meeting.

Children's ages and needs must be taken in to account when making choices but with the chapter working together to find an answer instead of just stating that children are not allowed, usually comes up with a solution."

 Thoughts about Legacies from Marilyn Ross:

Here are my thoughts about your question.

"...The RJ chapter here are going to start a Legacy program. Many of their members are only second year members of Beta Sigma Phi and they had a class of 14 pledges.
 Some of their sisters want the Legacy girls to attend all meetings and others don't. A couple of them have come to me and ask what to do and if there is a rule? No one seems to be able to resolve this for them."

First of all, I think it is great your RJ chapter wants to start a Legacy program and theirs is a noble endeavor that should be encouraged. However, whether or not the Legacy members should attend the chapter meetings of the RJ chapter is a concern.

If the Legacy Chapter is filled with babies, toddlers and daughters up to 10-12, I would suggest they not bring them to the regular chapter meetings. [ The attached info preceding my thoughts states my reasons.] What they could do for daughters in this age bracket is establish a regular meeting time just for those Legacy daughters. The members could plan activities that would be appropriate for daughters this young, i.e., their "programs" so to speak. In doing so, the Legacies would 1) be together like Mom's chapter 2) enjoy social activities like Mom's chapter 3) learn to get along with one another like Mom's chapter, etc. They could wear their Legacy necklaces to each meeting (like Mom wears her pin to each meeting). Each of the Legacies, with Mom's assistance, could take turns hosting their Legacy meetings; another could provide the refreshments just like Mom's chapter. In this manner, the RJ chapter members are leading the way by familiarizing their Legacies with meeting regularly as well as introducing them to some of the traditional ways of doing things in Beta Sigma Phi. It seems to me this would be more fun and more satisfying for both the Legacies and their RJ Mothers.

If, on the other hand, the daughters are between the ages of 12 and 17, the RJ degree members could fashion a chapter meeting to meet the needs of this age as well. Girls this age are old enough to start understanding business meetings and it is great experience for them. They are old enough to start learning about the beauty of rituals and how to conduct them. They would have to be trained on how to set-up a ritual table and so forth, but could and would readily learn. They could elect officers and appoint committees just as we do. And they could decide their activities, just as we do. The key would be to have at least one member mother attend each of their meetings to advise and guide them along. I could see that if a number of Legacies would enjoy this, it would work beautifully.

Some cities who have Legacy daughters involve them in various socials throughout the year. They include them if that particular city is hosting a convention and have their Legacies deliver secret sister remembrances or help distribute door prizes. Some cities seat them at a table together at Founder's Day or Mother's Day events, present them with yellow rose corsages and introduce them. Any way the members can think of to include them is encouraged. That way, the Legacies do feel a part of our larger organization. Legacies can also 'help' mom when she's getting ready to host a meeting thereby learning what all is involved.

When I was a RJ degree member, the matter of bringing babies and young children to meetings presented itself. Our chapter tolerated it for one or two meetings, but it was disruptive. When it came up as an issue we had to do something about it. We talked after a regular chapter meeting and everyone matter-of-factly and calmly shared her thoughts and opinions. We voted and the majority ruled. Children were no longer brought to meetings. Sometimes we changed the meeting nights to accommodate the members needing sitters, but we worked it out together. No hurt feelings. And, I know the mothers of the babies benefited from that majority rule!

To my knowledge, there are no specific rules about Legacy chapters. Most members and chapters decide and work this out among themselves. There are suggestions, as I've included, on what to do with children and Legacy daughters of young age.

You wrote "No one seems to be able to resolve this for them." As I see it, this is something only they can resolve for themselves. If they came to me for advice, I would visit with them about various options they had. The really great thing about parliamentary procedure (which we follow in Beta Sigma Phi) is that the minority must be heard, the majority rules.

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