|Courtesy of Dreamstime.com|
About 6 years ago I had a meeting with parents about the faith journey of their child. During the meeting there was difference in opinions that turned into a heated discussion of what was best for this child. Finally after much discussion one parent said, “Chris, when you’re a parent you’ll understand.”
I did my best to wrap up the meeting; however, lets just say I was furious, embarrassed and conflicted. How could they pull the “When you’re a parent card” on me? It was like a low blow. At the time I could agree that there is truth to that statement; however, it came off condescending. Those words to me implied that I had no wisdom to offer to the situation.
Now as a parent I understand those words better; however, I realize that I need to be careful in how I use them. As a youth minister I’ve realized that even if we aren’t a parent we have plenty of wisdom to offer. That wisdom can be similar and then it can be very different from what a parent might have. However, I’ve also learned when encounters with parents become emotional we need to:
- Pause – Before rushing in take a step back and examine the situation.
- Pray – Ask God for His words and guidance, allow Him to have control.
- Partner Up – Don’t go in alone, take someone who will hold you accountable; yet, grab your back.
If you can embrace these steps, than you can approach the situation with a solid foundation. How you encounter parents will impact the way they encounter you. Slowing down the emotions, bringing God as well as a trusted minister/coworker will diffuse the situation; however, there are two perspectives we need to remember when we are in these situations.
- First, It’s Not About You – It’s easy to make it about you, because most times a parent is coming at you with emotion. It might be full blown and it could be just a hint; however, it’s important to remember it’s not about you, it’s about their kid. When we recognize that, we’re able to remove our emotion and really understand the situation.
- Second, What You See Is Not What You Always Get – A parent might present you with one problem; however, there might be something deeper going on behind the scenes. When this happens it’s best to just listen, to follow up with questions and not jump to a solution. If we recognize the deeper issue we can than approach the real problem.
I realize lately a buzz phrase being thrown around is that we need to Partner With Parents. So, if we want to be truthful in that statement we need to start looking at how we prioritize parents in our ministry. I’m not saying youth ministers don’t care; but, I wonder how intentional we are when it comes to connecting with them.
How would you prioritize teens, ministers and parents? Why?