I Was One of "Those" Parents

Kara Powell | Jul 6, 2009

Photo by London Scout

Last week our two oldest kids started summer school. We had been told by letter and phone call that Krista, our six year-old, was going to be in a particular class. To our delight, it was the same class as one of her good buddies at school.

I showed up the first morning and it turned out that Krista was in a different class. She didn’t realize it yet, but I knew she’d be bummed.

So I walked up to the registration desk and asked if it would be possible for her to be switched. I told them I wasn’t one of “those parents” who is pushy but we had been informed by letter and phone call and Krista’s hopes would be dashed if she wasn’t in the same class. To my delight, they made the switch and I got Krista in the class with her friend.

My good friend, Robyn, once described another mom we know as being an advocate for her child. Not in a pushy, helicopter parent sort of way, but just looking out for her child and making sure that he was in environments that were both fair and stretching.

I have it in me to be pushy. I try not to be, I try to be full of grace and mercy. But as a parent, it’s hard to find that line between being an advocate and being too pushy.

As youth workers, how can we encourage parents to be advocates for their children at school, in the soccer field, and even in our youth ministry? How can we create channels of communication that let parents express their fears and dreams for their kids? I think it starts by…

  • Slowing down around church and youth ministry events and making an effort to stop and ask parents how their family is doing.
  • Returning parents’ e.mails, phone calls, and Facebook messages promptly.
  • Training our volunteers, who are often younger and even more intimidated by parents than we are, how to have meaningful relationships with parents.
  • Inviting parents to be on our volunteer team so that we have their perspective constantly.
  • Starting a parent support team that provides advice and wisdom.
Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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