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7 Things I Learned About Parents

7 Things I Learned About Parents
 

A big thanks to Dan Puz for leading our equipping event last Thursday, and thank you to everyone who came out to LBC to be part of the conversation. We had countless churches, community centers, and camps represented in the crowd, and it was simply incredibly to see so many people passionate about engaging the whole family in the work of the church.

As I reflected on the time, a few key ideas stood out to me about parents, their teens, and the church. Some of them were new to me, others were helpful reminders. I think perhaps the most powerful ideas came from parents themselves who took the time to join us and share from their own personal experiences.

DanPuzSpeaking

Here are the top seven things I learned about the Parents of Teens in the church:

1. Parents want to know they’re not alone in this.

They long to connect with other parents who are struggling with the same things that they are. They want to be encouraged by knowing it’s not unique to them.

2. Parents really do want to see their children grow spiritually.

They’re just not always sure how they fit into the equation. They’ll love their children more than we ever could. They want to disciple more than discipline. They’re just not always sure how to do it. They’re hungry for ideas, tips, and talking points.

3. Parents want to connect with other parents. They just don’t always know how.

Perhaps one of the most significant things we can do as youth pastors for parents is to simply get them in the same room as other parents. I may not be able to give parents life-changing parenting techniques, but I can leverage my connections and environments to bring together a community of parents that want to support and encourage each other.

4. Parents don’t see separate ministries as much as they see the whole church.

While we may get siloed into what we’re doing in our particular wing of the church, parents don’t divide so cleanly between children’s ministry and youth ministry. As a result, they can sometimes expect the same thing from student ministry (communication structures, policies, scheduling rhythms, etc.) as they did from children’s min. If we’re going to start partnering with parents, it’s something that needs to be addressed across the board.

5. Parents aren’t a youth pastor’s enemy.

Sometimes parents push back on our ideas and plans, because they have a wealth of wisdom and insight that a 22 year old youth pastor just doesn’t have yet. If you don’t have a parent’s perspective reflecting in your planning and strategizing, get one ASAP.

6. Parents can make for some of the best youth leaders.

It’s not always the hip, skinny jean wearing, rock star college students that will make the most transformative impact in a teen’s life. Instead it’s often the empty-nest parents who know how to connect meaningfully and love deeply for the long haul.

7. Parents are as scared of us as we are of them.

Okay, just kidding on this last one, but it did strike me that parents are sometimes hesitant to engage conversations with youth pastors for the exact same reasons why youth pastors may hesitate to engage with parents.  We’re worried that we might offend or step on each other’s toes. We’re worried that we’ll look like we don’t know what we’re talking about. We both ask ourselves, “Who are we to speak into what they’re doing?” It seems a little silly, but it’s amazing how much simply starting the dialogue can do to break down all these potential barriers.

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Aaron Brown
Professor of Student Min at Lancaster Bible College
Aaron Brown is an Assistant Professor of Student Ministry at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, PA. He attended Biola University and Talbot School of Theology. Before coming to LBC, he was the Sr. High Director at Living Word Community Church in Red Lion, PA. Aaron serves as the Project's editor and web guy.
  1. Dan Puz11-11-13

    Great stuff Aaron! This is great insight into the mind of a parent of teens. One of these that God has been putting on my heart lately is that “parents want to connect with other parents, they just don’t know how”. It’s goes along with number 1 really well. Creating a way for these connections to happen is key in partnering with parents. Thanks for sharing.