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Building Better Parent Partnerships

Building Better Parent Partnerships

If you polled a room of youth ministers about what they spend the most time on during the week, the most common answers would most likely be lesson prep, planning the next event, or coordinating volunteers. Probably not engaging with parents. This is not to say that youth ministers view engaging with parents as unimportant, but it’s easy to be so focused on the preparation and execution of youth programming that connecting with parents can fall on the back burner.

It's crucial to remember that you are not only ministering to the youth but their parents as well. We only have a handful of hours throughout the week with our youth. We are a significant influence on the faith lives of our students, but their parents are an even bigger one. They spend more time with their kids than we do, after all!

How can we effectively minister to parents so that they feel supported and connected to the youth ministry? Below are some ideas.

1. Communicate Consistently and Frequently

It can sometimes be frustrating when a parent asks about an event date for the umpteenth time or says they can’t find the registration forms on the website. We feel like we do a good job of communicating the necessary information most of the time, right? It’s good to remember that our students’ parents have a million dates running around their heads for their family schedules. Youth are often involved in multiple extracurricular activities/commitments, and if there are multiple kids, a parent’s calendar fills up fast. It’s not that the parent doesn’t think getting their kid registered for the upcoming retreat is a priority – they’re just busy.

It's important to communicate to parents consistently and clearly to help prevent this from happening as much as possible. To start, create a weekly schedule for website updates, weekly emails, social media posts, reminder texts, etc., that you stick to so all channels are up to date. Make sure that the same information is available across multiple channels too. 

Also, a good rule of thumb is to communicate so much that you feel like you might be over-communicating. I know this sounds strange, but we have to remember that for us, the announcements for youth group are in the front of our minds a lot more than the parents’. If you send an email with the retreat dates but don’t remind again until 3 weeks later, it’s not too surprising that people forgot.

2. Curate Parent Resources

Whether you have a parent portal on the youth website, send out follow-up questions after small groups, or have a list of mental health professionals in the area that specialize in adolescent care, it can be helpful to have resources for parents. The type of resource is highly dependent on your ministry context, but spending some time figuring out what works for your students’ parents can be a great way to make them feel supported.

3. For Young Youth Directors – Remember that You are an Adult!

If you’re not in your 20s, perhaps scroll past this (I was 22 and a month out of college when I first started as a Youth Director), but if you are in a similar situation to what I was in, please listen up: Remember that you are an adult.

I know it seems silly, but I remember when I first started out, it felt hard to connect with parents or feel like I was on their level. My life was in a completely different stage, and I was closer in age to their kids than to them. Sometimes I still felt like a teenager in comparison. 

In order to build good relationships with parents, you have to remember that in their eyes, you are an adult. The adult that has been tasked with shepherding their children. Have confidence in the position that God has put you in! Even if it feels awkward at first to try and get to know your students’ parents, do your best to push past that and recognize that even if you don’t have much in common, you can still be a voice of encouragement and support.

Youth ministry is not only about ministering to the youth but to their parents as well. Engaging effectively with parents creates a stronger network of support and guidance for our students and their families and enriches the youth ministry as a whole.

Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:

  • What are some resources you provide to parents? What have parents found most helpful?
  • Do you have any extra tips for communicating with parents? What works well in your context?

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