Connecting with Parents During the Summer Months
When was the last time you went out of your way to meet with a parent when their teen wasn’t in any trouble? Summer is often known as the best time to connect with our students but as youth workers, we need to remember to not forget the parents who are working hard to make ends meet and are often working extra hours to make sure things like summer vacations or camp fees are paid for. Many of our parents need our love and appreciation for all of the work that they do inside and outside of their home. I will be the first to admit that since I’m not currently a parent, I can often turn a blind eye to how difficult this journey is, however, I can offer a word of encouragement just the same. My challenge to you is to connect with the parents in your ministry this summer just as much as you connect with your teens! Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Consider Visiting Them at Work
Could you offer to take one of your parents out to lunch one day? Could you offer to drop lunch off to them one time over the summer? If you do this during the school year with your students, you know that offering to bring someone you care about food can lead to small conversations that develop a lasting relationship. This small gesture will sometimes take you farther than you think in your relationships with the parents in your ministry.
One of my parents works at a restaurant that I am able to visit during her workday. It is one of the highlights of my week to get to see her at work when I stop for my morning coffee! While she often can’t talk long because she is on the clock, it is a way for me to check in and share my love for her and her family while also asking if there is anything that I could pray for them about. Sometimes these small gestures can have the biggest impact.
Find Time to Join the Family for Dinner
In certain circles, you might have the luxury of inviting yourself over to have dinner in the homes of your students but I would encourage you to first invite the family into your home. If a student’s family offers for you to share a meal in their home, by all means, try your best to accept! There is something about having a meal inside one of your homes that is so personal and allows for free flowing conversation, board games and maybe even a few laughs along the way!
Summer can be a time of chaos for parents and an offer to have dinner at someone’s home can be both stressful and refreshing. This suggestion will not connect with every family but for some, the ability to have someone else do the dishes for the night without having to worry about a restaurant bill may be an answered prayer!
Pray For Them
Often, we ask our students how we might pray for them and for their families. Do the parents in your ministry ever know that you pray for them? The goal here is not to brag on our wonderfully extravagant prayer lives, but to show the parents in your ministry that you take prayer seriously and that you care about their family enough to spend time in prayer on their behalf. Write a note or have a conversation to let your parents know that you prayed for them personally this week. Go a step further and ask them what else you might be able to pray for them for. Don’t forget to ask about answered prayers and celebrate God’s faithfulness together!
Remember that these are simply suggestions to get you thinking about building relationships with the parents in your ministry but there are no rules about connecting with parents! Do what works for you but always let parents know that you care about them and that you are praying for their family. I hope that your vision for ministry isn’t to minister exclusively to students but to care holistically about their lives and spiritual journey. This should lead us to care about and connect with some of the most influential spiritual leaders in their lives, their parents.
Jen Willard is a full time youth pastor in Charlotte, NC where she lives with her husband, Bryan. She is currently attending Nazarene Theological Seminary to obtain a Masters of Divinity. Jen is a coffee snob, beach addict, and travel enthusiast who loves walking with teenagers toward Jesus! Find me on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER as @DUCKJD.
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.