Like most of us I have been thinking a lot about how parents can be more involved in youth ministry. We know parents are the primary faith influencers, and our role is to come along side and reinforce the discipleship process. This type of ministry has obstacles:
1. Some parents have not been discipled themselves so they don’t know how to disciple their child.
2. Church leadership want us to take the lead in the discipleship process.
3. We don’t know how to actually partner with parents.
The list is long. There are many obstacles but the one that is really hard to deal with is when parents are disrespectful to us as youth workers. They see us as their servants, not co-workers. They take out their frustration on us when things go wrong with their child. They work hard at distorting our programs and ministry plans. This disrespect is painful and causes us to not want to deal with parents.
I realize that many of us who write blogs and books are older and don’t remember how bad it can be when you’re in your twenties and a few parents have made it their job to make you miserable. So we gloss over this issue and pretend like it doesn’t happen. I don’t want to do that. It’s a real issue and I know it can hurt.
So how do we deal with parents that are disrespectful?
1. Build a support parent team
When I was a youth pastor I had such a team and it was a real blessing. They not only cared for me and challenged me, they made sure mean parents never got to me. They would fight for and make public statements about how hard I was working.
It takes time to start a team like this and you will need to show them your heart. You will also need to build trust with them and take their advice. Be prepared to vulnerable, open to challenge, and willing to change. If you do these things they will defend you.
2. See disrespectful parents as a leadership challenge
When you confront disrespectful parents, and deal with them calmly and respectfully you will grow as a leader. Don’t look at them as enemies. All your life you will deal with these types of people. Learn now how to confront them and your leadership will grow. In time, they may even become your biggest proponents.
Attacks can come from hurting parents all the time in our ministry. If a parent texts or emails you a hard critique, give them a phone call. If they call you or tell you something in person, ask for some time to talk through the issue together. Don’t react emotionally. Take a breath, take your time, and respond accordingly. The way you handle criticism says a lot about your leadership and your character.
3. Pray for parents
Pray for all your parents in your ministry but spend a large amount of time on the tough ones. When you pray for someone your heart changes and you begin to see them as God sees them. Your patience with grow and so will your empathy for them.
About the Author
Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners who never leave their side. Doug grew up in… Read More