Challenging Parents. Yes they are out there, and as youth workers, we know they are important.
Whether we say it out loud or in our heart we have all had a moment when we utter: “I just wish THAT PARENT would get out of the way.” You know, the “ones” that cause a knot to form in the pit of your stomach as you watch them walk toward you.
However, we can’t avoid them. No matter how much time we ever spend with a student, at some point they will go home. Multiple statistics state whether we consider them “good” or “bad” they are the primary influencers of their children, the ones in our “youth programming.” We are in the business of “family ministry” whether we give it that title or not
That’s why this week I would like to dedicate my posts to learning how to best work with the parents who we don’t always know “how” to work with.
To engage a parent and let them know you are in this journey with them is powerful. After today, I will be tackling some of the specific “types” of parents that come our way. However, I have a few initial thoughts:
Every Parent Deserves A Partner:
It is not our “right” to judge a parent. Instead, it is about coming alongside them and aiding them in the growth of their child. Adolescent development dictates that teens are looking for “coaches” and “role models” to guide them. My son’s Middle School Football team has 9 coaches. Think of it as the parent is the “head” and we get to be one of the remaining 8.
Learn the words “Privilege,” “Honor,” and “Thank You.”
I had a parent show up a few weeks ago to “check out,” the youth programming we offer. Her child has just started attending recently and this single Mom is skeptical about us. I asked her if she might like to be with us for the evening to see what was going on. Then I said, “Thank you so much for allowing your daughter to come be with us. It is a privilege and an honor that you would allow us to speak into her life.” This simple phrase lets parents know you are on their side, are not trying in any way to replace them, and respect their position. It is never a “right” to have any student in our youth group.
Be The Youth Worker/ ALWAYS lead with Respect
You have a job to do. Every parent understands policies and procedures. Never be afraid to over communicate to ALL your parents. Let them decide if they think a topic is inappropriate for THEIR child. However, just like a teacher, coach or director you have ways of “doing things.” You are allowed to respectfully point out expectations to parents. They understand, they may not like it, but they understand. Then we must remember, it is always their prerogative to decide what it best for THEIR child.
This week we are going to look at some strategies when confronted with “over-protective,” “opinionated,” and “blaming parents.” Hopefully, some of the ideas will help as navigate the waters with parents.
What are some initial thoughts on ways you approach challenging parents?