Are Parents the Problem or the Solution?

Brad M. Griffin | Oct 13, 2011

An article about parents recently caught my attention. The title was What teachers really want to tell parents, and while focused on the educational setting it got me thinking about youth ministry.

Apparently more and more teachers are leaving education because of issues with parents. Everything from meddling with grades to making excuses for late work, teachers are coming to expect over-involved parents as the norm. As the article closes:

We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask—and beg of you—to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible.

This is an interesting position for teachers to find themselves in. A posture of defense. Walking on eggshells about everything from discipline to grades, and fearing or resenting parents who walk in the door rather than welcoming them as partners in child and adolescent development.

It made me wonder: How many youth pastors would make the same plea to parents? How often are parents seen as problems to be avoided? On the flip side, how many ministries see parents as the solution to youth discipleship, laying the heavy burden of sole responsibility for their kids faith back on parental shoulders? How many youth workers leaveor feel like they want to leaveministry because they cant work with parents?

I dont know the answer to those questions, but I know youth workers are often baffled when it comes to how to engage parents in the faith development of their kids. In truth, perhaps parents are neither the problem nor the solution. Perhaps we can shift our approach altogether and embrace and partner with parents rather than see them instrumentally as either problems or solutions.

What ideas do you have for fostering a healthier perspective on parents as ministry partners? What thoughts do you have about avoiding the defensive posture when it comes to parents?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.


More from this author

More From Us

Hello, WELCOME TO FYI
Join the community

Sign up for our email today and choose from one of our popular free downloads sent straight to your inbox. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about our sales, offers, and new releases.

Join the community

Sign up for our email today and choose from one of our popular free downloads. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about our sales, offers, and new releases.