Frustrations In Children’s Ministry: Well Meaning Parents

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.

Communicating With Parents

Communicating with parents in children’s ministry is always a challenge, but it is important. Here’s a few ideas to make communicating with parents easier.

Weekly Pages: Send home a weekly page or notice letting parents know what you’re teaching their children. Some parents will throw it away which is discouraging, but for parents who want to do devotions with their children, it will help them get on the same page with what their children are learning in church.

Monthly Newsletter: Send home a monthly newsletter to the parents letting them know about upcoming events in children’s ministry. In the newsletter, you can also include birthdays, bios of your children’s ministry teams, and memory verses for the coming month.

Visit Homes: Visitation is a great way to get to know parents and students. Why not set up a schedule of visitations so that you’ve visited every student’s home at least once a year? If you have a large children’s ministry, you can share the responsibility of visiting with your team.

Phone Calls: Phone calls are not as good as visitations but are still a great way to get to know parents. Make a list of what you’d like to discuss during the calls, and ask parents if they have any questions or concerns.

Open House: Send invitations out to parents inviting them to visit children’s church for an open house. This way they can see a little more of what your doing with their children.

Parent Meetings: It’s good to have parent meetings about once a quarter so you can share with them what’s coming up. It’s also a good time to get their ideas and feedback.

Parent Handbook: Make up a handbook to give to new parents to inform them a little more about the children’s ministry. In the handbook, you can include policies, your qualifications, vision, and your goals for the spiritual developement of their children.