Unlike most parents of teens who go to work each day in some secular job, I spend my days talking with priests, DRE’s, diocesan directors, youth leaders, teens and our amazing staff at Life Teen sharing the privilege of serving in full time youth ministry.
Like the saying goes – “do what you love to do and then get paid to do it”.
Of course there are downsides to full time youth ministry as well. One of the most frequently asked questions at our youth ministry training conferences has to do with getting parents involved. I think it’s important that we keep a perspective on just what a parent is dealing with these days. Being a parent of 8 with 3 being teenagers right now, I want to give my perspective on parents today. If you are not yet a parent and are in a position where you work with parents in your parish – here are 7 things that parents won’t tell you…
1. We Get It!
When you hand us a packet of papers and then spend the next hour reading it to us at a parent meeting we become bored, disengaged and resistant to attending any more of your meetings. We get it and can read, keep the meetings short and allow us to give our feedback. Keep it short and we will come back. Better a couple meetings throughout the year than a 2 hour marathon that drains us.
2. We Want To Help
Just because a few parents have turned you down with requests for help, doesn’t mean we are all unwilling to pitch in. We want to be asked to help with food, build things, serve on Core team and help with transportation if you need us to. Just keep asking, we are out there and if approached with a specific need, we are good at making things happen.
3. Don’t Set Us UpTo Be The Bad Guys
We are more supportive than you think we are. When you set us up to be the bad guys by making every retreat, trip and event cost so much, we come to a point where we have to make good choices of how we spend. Please be mindful of the tension you create at home when every event is so expensive.
4. Communicate With Us
We want to hear from you about what is going on. Don’t just communicate with our teen. We will tell you when the communication is too much.
5. Work On The Cliques
Just because my teen is not the most popular, doesn’t mean that they are not a part of the youth group. Please work hard to include everyone and do away with as many teen cliques as you can. We know this is difficult, just know you are not reaching some teens if cliques are allowed to flourish.
6. Tell Me Something Good
If all I hear you say are negative things about my child, I begin to believe you have given up on them and it makes me want to not encourage them to attend. A lot of what we hear these days from school and some coaches tends to be negative. Make sure you tell us good things about our kids as well.
7. We Are Counting On You
We really do feel like your role is important as a youth leader. We are counting on you to connect our teens to the Church and to work side by side with us in the process.