Reimagine partnership with parents in your ministry
Ever googled the popular hashtag #parentfail? On any social media platform you choose, a quick search brings up a spectrum of everyday parenting confessions, ranging from humorous to heartbreaking (warning: some include swearing). Scroll through the image feed and you’ll find yourself laughing along with each poor unsuspecting parent as they share comical mishaps of surprised babies, family photo moments gone wrong, and hilarious kid quotes.
Most parents find that a healthy sense of humor is a lifeline when kids are young. But you may notice that parents and step-parents grow less likely to open up—or laugh—about the mishaps and scrapes their kids get into as they become teenagers and young adults. When kids are not so young, the problems we help the parents in our churches navigate become not so cute. And parents hesitate to open up about their struggles, afraid of putting them on display for the world to see.
What if churches were to step in and say to parents: “It doesn’t have to be this way”?
Numerous studies have affirmed that parents are one of the primary influences on their child’s faith. That means if you serve teenagers, you’ll be far more effective if you’re thinking about how you can partner with their parents as well. Some of the deepest and most heartfelt conversations we’ve been a part of happened in moments where parents of teenagers and young adults were encouraged to be honest about their struggles and their longing for support, direction, hope. Whatever their age and experience, we know that youth ministry leaders can unite with parents, offering support as practitioners who spend time studying and learning about adolescent development and culture, and as people who can foster connections to the wider church community.
At moments when parents fear their story with their maturing child is ending, churches can help them turn the page and start a new chapter.
Parents and step-parents are often the most responsive to new information when they are going through transitions between developmental stages—such as middle to high school, or into young adulthood. That means these are great periods for ministry leaders to offer resources to parents, as well as encouraging support. In partnering together to journey with young people as they grow, we want to challenge parents to reimagine parenting, and churches to reimagine how to support parents at each crucial stage.
Let’s invite parents of teenagers and young adults to come out of hiding. When we do, not only do we gift parents with the support of their church community, we can help them discover that they are not alone in their experiences. Together, let’s help families keep their roots, even as kids spread their wings.
While FYI’s research shows that the church wants better answers to their questions about how to love and serve young people, it’s also revealed that parents want and need better answers too. Our pocket guide is packed with discussion starters, tips, and bite-sized wisdom to help you and your team have better conversations with parents in your ministry.
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