How To Make Enemies With Parents

Went to a parent’s meeting that turned into a lynch mob last week.  It totally got off on the wrong foot and immediately my compassion kicked in for the people leading it, followed by annoyance because the chaos could have been prevented.
Ever been or held a parent’s meeting that went the wrong way?  Afraid of running a parent’s meeting?  There is really nothing to be afraid of, especially if you follow these steps:

  • Start And End On Time: Really this tip comes down to respect, if you advertise a specific meeting time start at that time and end no later than the time marked.
  • Avoid Certain Days: There really is no ideal time or day to host a meeting but there are ones to avoid.  For example stay away from Fridays and Saturdays and if you are going to mess with dinner make sure you offer it as well.
  • Take Command Set The Agenda: Worst thing to do before you start any meeting is ask, “Does anyone have any questions?”  First thing you should do is say, “Hey all, here’s the agenda, we’re going to go through it, hold questions until the end and if you haven’t something specific ask me afterwards.”  Basically, you are giving direction and you are leading.  People will respect that.
  • Don’t Blame The Parents: This is a funny thing to have listed but I’ve found myself in meetings where a parent asks a question and the youth worker turns arounds and blames the parent for not meeting the requirements.  We’re here to partner with parents not stand up against them.  You blame them you lose them.
  • Don’t Be A Martyr: If a parent raises a concern or complaint about your ministry, apologize and make a commitment (a real one) to address the situation.  DON’T GET DEFENSIVE and claim, “Well, if it weren’t for the world collapsing around me…” because no one wants excuses, they just want to know they are being heard.  If life is collapsing around you share it with a mentor, another leader or your pastor.
  • Don’t Overshare: Sometimes we want to be authentic and real with people, which I’m all for, but it can go too far.  If you have doubts about an initiative from your pastor don’t share that with the group.  True or not you should never throw ministers, leadership or other parents under the bus.

Parents aren’t monsters, in fact they are paramount to your ministry.  If you can’t partner with them you need to check your heart and look at what’s preventing you from truly working with them.  They are the primary faith educator but it doesn’t mean they hold all the responsibility or even know how it all works. If you are going to host a meeting don’t waste their time and take the lead, show them that the church is there to work with them.
What is the largest struggle you have working with parents?