Culture

10 Tips to Get Parents to Show Up to Your Next Parent Training

Youth Specialties
August 24th, 2015

To help you hit a home run with your parent training this year, the Fuller Youth Institute is debuting a new Sticky Faith Family Training five-session video curriculum. Through a compelling blend of real-life stories and interviews with parents, you and your students’ parents are dropped into the latest national family research, and into the hearts of parents discussing their own struggles, successes, and practical ideas. Kara will be speaking about this research in her Sticky Faith Family Ministry seminars at NYWC in both San Diego and Louisville. To prime the pump, here’s a handful of tips on a big question we often get from leaders like you.

How do I get parents to show up to parent training?

It’s a question youth leaders ask us all the time. We understand why. When I was a youth pastor, only about 20 percent of students’ parents showed up for parent training. Usually the ones who showed were the ones who least needed the training.

We know why you are asking that question, but it’s the wrong question. A better question is: How can I partner with parents so the training I offer meets their needs?

I never asked that question when I was a youth pastor.

That question, as well as these ten tips I’ve gleaned from amazing youth leaders like you, will help your parent training hit the bull’s-eye this year:

1. Give plenty of notice.

Last week, a parent mentioned that his kids’ youth pastor gave him three days notice before a Sunday parent training event. Three days. Given how busy parents are, I suggest three months.

2. Talk to other parents about the best time to offer training.

A few weeks ago, a local pastor told me he was thinking of scheduling a parent training event for a Saturday in the fall. That’s soccer season in Pasadena. It’s truly the worst possible window for a parent training event. (Our local league is called A.Y.S.O., which some of us think stands for “All Your Saturdays Occupied.”) This non-parent was taking a stab in the dark, and he was going to miss entirely.

3. Capitalize on when parents are already there.

Most parents would way rather come an hour early, or stay an hour late, than make a separate trip to your church. I know I would.

4. Offer childcare and food.

Tip #3 is only true if you offer appropriate food and childcare as needed. I spoke at one church’s Sunday 12:30 pm training event, which was a logical time right after the worship services ended. There was just one problem: the youth ministry didn’t serve lunch. Parents were starving—not for a great parenting seminar, but for lunch.

5. Communicate with parents through every possible channel.

Facebook, email, texting. It’s all fair game. When it comes to getting parents’ attention, use any and every channel you can.

6. Mobilize parents to invite other parents.

Possibly your greatest use of time in promoting an event is to multiply your influence. Choose five parents with different friendship circles and ask each to invite five other parents. Some parents are more likely to show up because of a friend’s invitation than yours.

7. Teach about what they care about.

Given the hectic pace of family schedules, your training has got to be worth their time. Three topics in parents’ strike zones are how to build faith in their family, how to navigate technology with their kids, and how to talk about sex.

8. Capitalize on parents’ fears.

I don’t mean that you manipulate parents. I mean paying attention to what parents are worried about and offering training that matches their felt needs. As an example, parents often freak out when their child enters a new school (in kindergarten, or the start of middle school, high school, or college). That season of transition is a great time to offer specific training for that group of parents.

9. Let parents build relationships with other parents.

Parents want more than to sit through a “good show.” They want to connect with others who are walking in their footsteps. At every parent training you offer, give parents time to get to know others who live near them, or who have kids in the same age group. Those simple social seeds can yield bushels of relational fruit.

10. Send out reminders that day.

Parents are busy. They forget. Send out one last reminder the day of the event.

What else do you do to help your parent training events succeed?

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Kara Powell is the executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women to Watch,” Kara is the author of several books, including The Sticky Faith Guide for Your FamilyCan I Ask That?, and she’ll be leading 2 incredible seminars for youth workers at the National Youth Workers Conventions in San Diego and Louisville. Check out more info at NYWC.com.

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Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.

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