Last week’s SMS received some good feedback by being re-posted and linked to by several folk (thanks!). I guess the subject of Youth Leader and Parent relationships is one that could have some traction. It’s certainly an area that needs to be addressed in order to best shepherd teens the Lord has given us.
Once again I’ll address this issue from the perspective of the Youth Pastor/Leader to the Parents (in a week or two I’ll probably switch it up and do a post advising parents on their part in this relationship). I’d encourage the Youth Pastor to not just see the parents of the teens in our group as the at-home authorities in the teens life; but rather see them a valued resource, worthy of our respect. To that end I’ve created just a brief outline that I hope will help. Each of these points can/should be developed and fleshed out, but for now, use these to examine, dream and explore implementation.
How a Youth Leader should view Parents:
- As a resource.
- As people also in need.
- As protectors.
- Worthy of respect.
- As if their feedback matters; make sure you hear what they are saying, regardless of you plans to implement their plans.
- In conflict you must process and separate their emotions from the facts. Respond to and acknowledge immediately to the emotion and check out the facts (statements like, “I can understand how you would feel that way…”)
- Follow-up and foll0w-through in a Biblically consistent way.
- Listen in a different-but-equal stance. You can learn from them, they (hopefully) can learn from you. The way YOU listen isn’t dependent upon how they view him/herself, it’s your stance that you can control. Ultimately they are the authority in the life of their teen, whereas you are a so-called “expert” in the lives of teens.
- Ask for their skills, gifts and help. Ownership in the program brings joy.
- Offer them your skills, gifts and help! Are there ways you can personally bring yourself to them in relationship/helps?
- Always express your love & concern for and pleasure in his/her kids.
- Affirm them in their role with their own kids. We love when a parent passes on something they “heard” we did; let’s do the reverse, make sure you point out the successes you see in their lives!
- Affirm them in your talks. Let the students know that you VALUE their parents. They may not understand it, but they’ll hear the message for sure!
- If qualified, use them as staff and/or help.
- Use them as an advisory board… think “coffee club” where you throw out ideas and discussion forums.
- Develop them as a support network for yourself and other leaders (prayer, encouragement, etc.).
- Work with parents in discipline situations.