4 Truths about Overly Critical Parents

By Guest Contributor October 8, 2015

By Phil Bell

Working with parents in youth ministry is not always easy. At times they can be very hurtful and critical. I have experienced seasons in which I lost sleep over impending conversations that were sure to go poorly. In my younger years, I operated as an island, completely disconnected from parents. It was just easier that way. Then I became a parent myself. That’s when I began to understand these four truths about overly critical parents.

1) Parents Are Stretched and Stressed

Whether we agree with them or not, the demands from extra-curricular activities on students can be astronomical. Many parents feel overwhelmed by the quest to provide their kids with a full menu of education, sports, and culture. Add in a full-time job in an economy that pays less and demands more, and can we really wonder why parents feel stretched and stressed? In those moments when a parent unloads their stress on you and me, we must understand how the many pressures on their lives contribute to the way they interact with us.

2) Parents Often Feel Completely Inadequate

Parents of teenagers will experience many moments of inadequacy as they navigate the changes of their adolescent kids. For years they raised a concrete-thinking, dependent child. Now the child they knew has been replaced with an abstract-thinking, autonomous adolescent whose moods (and appearance) change on a daily basis. Consider that a defensive tone from parents often comes from desperation and insecurity. And what’s more, they are looking to you and me as the experts who can help them understand their kids.

3) Parents Don’t Always Get It

It’s the primary role of parents to invest in their child’s faith journey, right? While that might seem like a given to you and me, it’s not always obvious to parents. Many parents were never shown how to make faith stick at home, and many never saw it modeled by their own parents. (This is true for my wife and me.) Therefore, not only is it our responsibility to gently and strategically cast vision for their role, it’s essential that we equip parents with the tools to help them at home.

4) Parents Have the Greatest Influence

For better or worse, parents have the greatest influence in their child’s faith journey. We only get their kids once a week; they have countless hours of teachable moments with their kids every day. What would it look like if the church came alongside parents in greater ways to help them bring faith into their homes, car trips, sports, and extra-curricular activities?

Parents have the greatest influence, and their schedules are not changing anytime soon. Rather than fight reality, embrace the truth and help them succeed in greater ways at home! That’s why I wrote Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents. Not only will it give you practical ways to partner with parents, but it will ultimately help you more effectively reach the next generation for Christ.

About the Author

Guest Contributor

The LeaderTreks Blog is proud to share the hard-earned wisdom of student ministry leaders from many different backgrounds and professions. From time to time, we will feature guest blog posts from writers other than our regular contributors. We include these posts to provide additional perspectives and insight that we’re sure will help develop you and your ministry…  Read More