Parents today face challenges that we didn’t face when I was raising kids. Most families are juggling two income schedules, after-school sports, piles of homework and much more. Did you know that the average HS student today is studying at the level that GenXer’s and Boomers studied in college?
In her book, “Shut Up: Silence the Negative thoughts in your Head.” Christy Pierce writes about the epidemic of teen suicides in our country and world today. “We live in a culture where the pressure for our kids to compete in academics, sports, music, dance, drama (…the list goes on) is huge. We feel like if we don’t push our kids to do these things, we will have failed them. But what the teens are telling us now, if we will listen, is that the pressure is having un-intended consequences.”
There is a message from culture that is drowning out a more important message that will help a kid have a better future. Here’s an important principle when it comes to partnering with parents: LESS IS MORE
Keep it simple. Be intentional and thoughtful about what you say, when you say it and what you ask of parents.
WHAT WILL YOU SAY IN THE BIG MOMENTS ? Some moments only happen once in a lifetime and are distinctive opportunities when parents are primed to partner with you. Moments like baby dedication, salvation and baptism, and graduation are big moments and should be celebrated with the people who know us best—our families and close friends. As a ministry, how can you celebrate these moments in a way that draws families together, and gives parents an opportunity to win with their kid and set them up for a better future? Parents are open and looking for ways to be intentional, they are reading every blog, every parenting site, talking to other parents, asking for advise. Be there for them! Celebrate, equip and help them make the most of every moment.
The Phase Project (find It’s Just a Phase book here) is a great resource to help you understand these phases and how to come alongside parents during these distinctive opportunities. You can find amazing resources available at the Orange Store for many of these “celebrations also.
WHAT WILL YOU SAY AT THE START OF THE YEAR? The role of a parent changes as their kids grow and mature. You can’t parent your 4th grader the way you parented your kindergartner. What can your ministry do to equip parents each year with practical information that will help them discover what’s changing about their child, and make the most of the next 52 weeks together?
Fall is the start of school and a prime time to engage parents. Be intentional to transition kids and parents from phase to phase and don’t assume parents know what’s coming in the next phase. What can you do to help a parent transition from the nursery hallway to the Preschool environment, from preschool into Kindergarten, from elementary into MS and MS into High School? And don’t forget that huge transition from high school into college or career.
We need to be especially cognizant of transitions that we tend to lose kids from phase to phase. The first 90 days of kinder, transitioning into middle school and the shift into high school. These aren’t just new huge phases in the life of a kid or student, but let’s face it, these are HUGE transitions for parents too. I remember dropping my oldest off for his first day of middle school and being terrified! He was this little guy walking into a school overflowing with bras, hormones, facial hair and most of all, things he’d never heard or seen before. I felt like I’d literally flung him into the abyss and I felt ill-equipped to help him navigate it. Granted, I’m being dramatic, but every parent out there who’s walked through middle school and high school knows what I’m talking about. New phases are scary and hard for parents too, don’t forget to equip them, help them and partner with them!
WHAT WILL YOU SAY WHEN PARENTS HAVE A QUESTION? Sometimes you don’t know what you need until you need it. As proactive as a parent may try to be, there are bound to be some moments when they need HELP suddenly. What is your ministry doing to make sure parents have quality answers to the issues they are facing? Sometimes questions are tough… a student that is self-harming or being bullied. Sometimes questions are just practical – like the 2 year old that refuses to keep their clothes on (this is straight out of one of our families story)! What resources are you providing to meet their felt needs when they need it most. How will you make sure these resources are easily accessible? Here are a few ideas:
- Create a resource wall where parents can pick up resources when they need
them: conversation guides, Phase resources, Resources from GoWeekly, how to download the ParentCue App! (here’s some pictures of what New Hope Church in Bend, OR has created).
- Create your own Family Ministry website (here’s an example) with links to blogs on topical subjects for all phases.
Bottomline, don’t miss an opportunity to help parents be the best they can be, so kids can have a better future. You have the hope of world, the hope of every parent that’s backed-up by a promise, “…unfailing love to 1000 generations for those who love and obey His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9). Every parent wants the promise of unfailing, lavish love for their kids. In a world that is challenging and pummels them with constant messages of achievement, competition, 24/7 activity, what will you say? You’ve got the most important message of all, don’t miss the opportunity to partner with parents.