You are on the phone with Mr. Murphy… again. You have given him every detail for the overnight event about a million times. He is letting you know why the movie you are planning on taking the students to is inappropriate. Not long ago, he also let you know his son would not be attending the series you were teaching on “Social Media.” His children were not allowed to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine or anything else for that matter. They would learn the skills of communicating using their audible voice.
The Murphys seem to want to protect their children from any and every influence outside of their control. If they could send them out the door in an astronauts suit, you are sure they would.
You can’t disagree with their parenting. Their children are respectful, and want to live for Jesus. They don’t seem tempted by “the world,” because their exposure to it is limited. However, you also have a mix of students in your group that come from unchurched families and are exposed to EVERYTHING. You are trying to teach students how to be inclusive to all, without pushing the Murphy family away.
So how do we walk through dealing with “over-protective” parents:
OVER COMMUNICATE TO ALL:
It really doesn’t matter who the parents are. Over-communicating solves a myriad of problems. Send letters and emails home that tell what’s coming up each week. What will you be teaching? What type of illustrations will you be using? Use this as a way to include parents in talking to their children about what is coming, or to make the choice to pull their children from group that week.
Make sure whenever you are planning an event, that you have thought through and communicated every detail of who, what, where, when and how to the parents. Let them know what’s happening, step-by-step, as much as possible.
Mr. Murphy is not the parent that will like “last minute” ideas with his child. Plan ahead.
Before you ask his child to do something beyond regular program ideas. Bounce it off of the parents first. THEN ask the student.
Build your Parental Reputation:
Make sure that you stick to the plans that you create. Be on time getting students to and from activities. Make sure that all parents know exactly what you will be doing and when.
Opinions Vs. Truth:
Remember sometimes their disagreement is just their opinion. One parent may be against “Harry Potter,” because it is about “magic.” Another may let their child get into that series while they aren’t allowed to watch anything about vampires. We aren’t going to make the Murphys happy all the time, and it isn’t our job to. It is however, their right to know what we will be using to influence their child, and make the decision as to whether or not they will allow them to participate.
A friend of mine does an amazing job of hosting trainings to educate parents on culture and current trends. Sometimes parents are afraid, because they may not know that Facebook has controls on it, or that Instagram can be set to private. They honestly may not know that our national obsession with vampires has shifted to include zombies. These meetings are invaluable. Does every parent come? No. Do many? Yes.
Remember, all we can do is tell the Murphys that we are on their side, and we respect them. They may complain, and be unhappy even then. They are just trying to raise their kids the best they can.
How do you navigate “over-protective” parents?