One of the biggest frustrations children’s pastors have is well meaning parents. Here’s some examples.
- Parents who are hit and miss about the children’s attendance.
- Parents who expect children’s pastors to be responsible for children’s spiritual growth.
- Parents who put sports and other activities above church.
- Parents who punish children by not allowing them to attend church events.
- Parents who have constant complaints about how you run the children’s ministry.
- Parents who allow children to stay up late, don’t feed them breakfast, and bring them to church hungry and tired.
It’s difficult to deal with parents like these, but there are some guidelines you need to remember. First, parents are the ones who are responsible to God for their children. You, as the children’s pastor, should never circumvent the parent’s authority or try to take the place of the parent. You are there to assist the parent. You can do this in the following ways.
Pray for parents. Parents have difficult jobs raising children in the world today. The best thing you can do is pray for them and to let them know you’re praying for them.
Recognize that even though parents make mistakes, even the worst parents love their children and want what’s best for them. Tell parents what they’re doing right or that you know what a difficult job they have.
Open House and Open Door. A great way to develop a team effort between parents and children’s pastors is an open door policy. Invite parents to visit children’s church and classes to observe whenever they want. Also have special open houses where parents are invited to be a part of children’s church. For safety reasons, remind parents they’re there to observe only, and always have an adult children’s worker present.
Communicate with parents. Let them know what’s happening in children’s ministry and successes you have with their children. One of the best ways to communicate with parents is to get to know them. Build a relationship with them.
Give parents resources to help them. Have resources available when parents ask for help with devotions or helping their children grow spiritually. But also have resources available for other needs. There are books, pamplets, and organizations that help parents with problems such as AHDD, learning disabilities, discipline problems, and other special needs. You could also have resources available for free health care, school supplies, housing, and other financial needs. One great resource is a fun day for kids on occasion that allows parents to take advantage of free babysitting.
Invite parents to help. This is a great way to get parents on board as a part of the team. They may not be teachers, but they might want to help as monitors, or as extra help at children’s ministry events. They might even have skills that will benefit you such as sewing, computer, secretarial, carpentry, photography, audio/technical, cooking, baking, etc. Make sure to have a screening policy in effect before doing this. Not all parents should work with children.
With a little effort, the parents in your children’s ministry will be on board and consider you a part of the team. When that happens, you’ll have the ability to help the parents see what they can do to help you minister to their children.