How Do You Help Parents Craft Vision For Their Teens?

As I sit there watching my son drip oatmeal all over his shirt (he’s 2) the thought that comes to mind, “Who is this kid? And what’s he going to be when he gets older?”
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It’s a question most parents ask, we find ourselves wondering the type of man or woman our child might be one day.  An athlete, business professional, parent, spouse…famous ice cream taster? While we don’t want to control what our kids become we do wish and hope for their happiness and success in life.
Like parents, youth ministers have a vision for the teens in their ministry.  And one of our main responsibilities is to help the teen craft that vision for their lives.  But, how often do we assist parents in doing the same thing?
It’s as if we create a vision for their teens, without including them in the mix.  Sounds more like we are taking over than helping some of the most influential people in a teens life have a say.  Why don’t we ask?
I’m not sure many of us even care to ask, which is a little trivial.  It’s important, because if we are going to partner with parents then we need to guide them when it comes to creating a vision for their teen and family.  And you help them by:

  1. Sharing Your Vision: Our ministry is to design authentic, consistent and irresistible examples of Jesus Christ because as a church we want to grow disciples who are growing other disciples.  It’s pretty general, but it can be personalized and embraced by anyone in our church.  By sharing your vision you share your ministry’s purpose in their teens life.  If you don’t, you are just another youth group.
  2. Giving Them A Path: We can be a hinderance or a help to a child’s faith formation.  While programs and events can have value they won’t clearly move someone along the path God has designed for them.  What we need to provide are steps that help teens and their families track how close the are to their goals.
  3. Challenging Them: We challenge the teens; but, how often do we challenge the parents?  If we are asking the teens to get involved with small groups and ministry, shouldn’t we ask the parents to do the same.  If we are encouraging teens to come to worship and read the Bible, shouldn’t we expect the same of parents.  Well, you can’t expect them to grow alongside their teen if you aren’t challenging them.
  4. Supporting Them: As a youth minister you are there not just to help the youth, but the parents as well.  Parents need that extra voice when their teen won’t listen to them.  They need that other perspective, that reassurance that they aren’t alone.  While we want to challenge them we also want to let them know it’s possible for their teen to be a passionate follower of Christ.

The relationships we have with parents can no longer be business as usual.  We can’t afford to make it us and them.  Relational ministry is for the family, we need to reach out and help them craft the vision they have for their teen.  Next time you get a chance, find a parent of one of your teens, talk vision, give them direction, challenge and lift them up.  We’re all in this together.

How do you help parents craft a vision for their teens?