This is a topic that freaked me out my first year in youth ministry. As a young parent myself, itâ€™s not easy telling grown ups how to deal with their children.
So, it took me a while to really get to a place where I was comfortable with talking to parents. Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™m not alone in this area. I thought Iâ€™d list some principles that Iâ€™m learning along the way that has helped me navigate dealing with parents.
Know your role to parents. We are support to parents first and foremost. Let them take the lead. My value is in being another voice for the student to hear the same message that their parents give. It may sound different and even be presented differently, but it should be the same messageâ€”unless, of course, the message is contrary to Godâ€™s word.
Parents are primary. Keep parents in their place as primary. Let them make the final decisions because they will have to be the primary enforcer, encourager and disciplinarian. We make suggestions not decisions.
Parents arenâ€™t perfect. Children do not come with manuals and so parents have no other choice but to parent out of their brokenness. So donâ€™t be shocked if the parents donâ€™t have it all together. As the old saying goes, â€śit takes a village to raise a childâ€ť.
Parents donâ€™t have all the answers. A parent may ask a question and youâ€™re thinking â€śshouldnâ€™t they know this already?!â€ť That should never be your response but you should talk it out with them. Help them think things through and sort things out. Your perspective has an immeasurable amount of value to parents, so share it.
Parents need your prayers. We have a great advantage of being able to pray for parents specifically and strategically. We know the needs and the struggles students have. We also know the struggles parents have. So we definitely should be praying for our parents because they need it.
Parents need your encouragement. I understand this more now then I did when I didnâ€™t have children. Parenting is not easy and most of the time there is no instant reward. You wonâ€™t fully see the rewards of your parenting until your children are on their own. Therefore, parents need to be encouraged that all the work they are doing now is not in vain. They need to know that making their kid come to youth group is not in vain. So be your parents biggest fan.
Keep parents leading spiritually. Now, this doesnâ€™t mean you get to put parents in check when you think theyâ€™re not. What it does mean is you must work with the parents and keep them the primary spiritual leader in their childâ€™s life. For example, this year with my small group guys that I lead Iâ€™m going to send the lesson home a week early before it is taught. Then they can discuss it with their parents if they choose. This does two things:
- It keeps the parents in the loop on whatâ€™s being taught.
- Also, it challenges the parents to engage with their children spiritually. We will discuss what was discussed with their parents before we start the lesson each week. This will give me the opportunity to agree and reinforce some of the truths that the parents share with them from the lesson.
I only listed a few and I know there are many more. This post is really about partnering with parents better. I would love to hear your thoughts on the post. What did I leave out?
Aaron Crumbey oversees pastoral care for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church. He cares deeply about sharing Christ with students and seeing them reach their full potential in Christ. He's married with three children and loves family time, sports, movies and all things musical among some other things. He also runs www.yoacblog.com.
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