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Partnering With Parents In Youth Ministry: “It Used To Be Me”

Partnering With Parents In Youth Ministry: “It Used To Be Me”

Leneita Fix is one of our ym360 Contributors. (She also writes fairly regularly at Youthwork Talk, the excellent blog started by our friend Phil Bell.) Leneita is one of the most passionate people you'll meet, with a huge portion of that passion devoted to teenagers and the desire to see their lives transformed by Christ.

This post is one Leneita wrote yesterday on Youthwork Talk. It's a personal, insightful article that's also very practical. Whether you're an adult volunteer or a paid youth minister, this article is worth a read. We'll post to an excerpt below.

If you want to read the entire post, head over to Youthwork Talk by clicking here.


Partnering With Parents In Youth Ministry: “It Used To Be Me”

It used to be me . . . You know the youth person who treated the parent like they got in the way of my job. Working with mostly “unchurched” students I thought I had a good excuse. Parents weren’t around anyway. Even when I did make some small attempt to reach out to them, they just shrugged me off. I thought I didn’t really need them that much anyway.

Then my own children started entering the ages of official youth ministry. They entered some programming where I was not the leader. It happened to me. One day after church, a leader stopped my daughter and embraced her. She looked her in the eye told her how beautiful she was and that she was special. All the things I would say to a student as well. However, I stood there awkwardly not even being acknowledged by this person whom I had never met. It seemed as if an eternity before I stuck out my hand and declared, “Hi, I’m the Mom.” Apparently, she was a volunteer small group leader.

When it happened to me, conviction came. How many times had I done something similar? How many times had a parent tried to tell me about their child and I ignored them? How many times had I treated a parent like only a mechanism to fill out permission slips? Then I am the one quick to complain when they don’t come to a parent meeting. I am the one “venting” about “that one.”

As I stood there with mine I was put off. I felt like, “HELLO! You might want to get to know me too. I after all am the one who gets my child to youth group!” I was skeptical about this volunteer. What was she putting into the mind of my child? Again, that “Aha, this is how they feel when I do this,” rolled over me. The truth is that not every parent will want to be my BFF. However, every parent deserves to be noticed.

Summertime may seem like the worse time to reach out to parents, I would contend it is among the best. Yes we are navigating vacations, camps and trips. Yet, we get to move away from the “after school” slump. There are so many of our kids sitting around waiting for something to do. Many parents would love to use the less scheduled time of the season to get to know us.

As we use summer to build relationships, we can’t ignore the family as a whole. It is a way that we prepare for fall. This is when I am reminded, it is not my right to decide which parent has earned the privilege for me to be in their life. It is their right to decide if I have the honor of being in their child’s. No matter who they are.

Here is what I must do:

1. ATTENTION: Parent’s deserve my attention. This means being purposeful about reaching out to them. Get to know them beyond just “sending information” home. The “drive by parent?” Meet them at their car one week, walk the student out. The “ghost?” Take the student home instead of their usual ride and just introduce ourselves. Send an email. Make a phone call and tell a parent why we are thankful we get to hang out with them and tell them about Jesus. Use summer to have a cookout and simply get to know families as a whole.

To read the rest of the article on Youthwork Talk, click here.

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