February 13th, 2017

Ahh parents. Your “partners” in ministry. The people who support you, encourage you…and sometimes criticize you, expect too much from you, and tell you how to do your job better. How are you doing in your interactions with the parents of your students?

You know that parents are important, and I’m sure you have a mixed experience, like every person who works with youth today. There are all types of parents: helicopter parents, detached and disengaged parents, swoop in and dump on you randomly parents, and super supportive parents.

What are parents struggling with?

What are parents worried about, stuck on, and challenged by?

What do parents need from you?

What do parents want from you?

What do parents need to understand to be able to support you more?

Parents care about their kids’ well-being, there’s no doubt about that. How they go about caring for their kids is where it gets interesting.


You care about their kids, too, and you play an important role. You’re an adult who’s intentionally coming alongside their lives in order to demonstrate what Christlikeness looks like in the shape of a healthy, mature adult.

You’re not their parents; you’re role is a guide to them to point out where God is at work in shaping their inner and outer lives to reflect His.

Parents want their kids to grow up into self-aware, self-confident, self-directed, and self-sufficient adults. They want their kids to be happy, they want them to love what they do for work, they want them to have good people in their lives, and SOME of them want their kids to have a sincere, authentic faith in God.

Do you see how you can play a part in cultivating an experience in high school for students to grow into the kinds of people their parents want them to become?

You’re charged with the task to demonstrate and proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom now available to all through a relationship with Jesus. You have scripture and prayer as your primary tools to evangelize, teach and disciple.

But have you defined what success looks like in the lives of students specifically? Do you have clear, articulated outcomes that give evidence for what Christlikeness actually looks like, feels like, and sounds like for a 14-19-year-old?

Parents need to know how your programs directly benefit their kids’ well-being

There are two ways to go as it relates to your work with parents. You can either assume they understand what your goals are, or you can make them clear.

Here’s the punchline: parents, even church-going Christian parents, need you to tell them what you’re intending to do and what you hope to see happen.

Parents will become your primary advocate when they understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what you need help with. They need to know that in your small group Bible studies you are teaching their kids what it can look like to become loving, patient, peaceful, and self-controlled people.

They need to understand that your bonfires and ice skating nights are intentional spaces for kids to learn how to have authentic friendships with their peers that can deepen into lifelong friendships of mutual concern and support.

Parents will support you when they get why you’re doing what you’re doing

They will bring their kids (and invite their friends’ kids) to your house-builds or soup kitchen service projects when  you clearly let them know that you’re going to give the students an opportunity to learn about generosity and compassion, and that you hope those become natural values for them for the rest of their lives.

They want to know that you know what you’re doing- that you have a plan to effectively build quality character into their kids.

So here’s an important question: do you know why you’re doing what you’re doing?

Do you know exactly how your events, programs, trips and 1-1’s are going to shape the lives of your students? Have you done the work to clarify on the front end what you’re intending to see on the back end?

Parents want to know what you’re up to, and when they know it because you’re clearly telling them, they will become the partners that you’re hoping they become.

Use this checklist as a guide to think through your programs, outcomes, and definition of success.

Scott Schimmel is a master at helping people grow. As President & Chief Guide of YOUSCHOOL, he is responsible for leading the charge, ensuring that everything we do delivers on our mission and vision. After spending over ten years in a non-profit helping college students become world changers, Scott is deeply aware of the challenges students face when stepping into the professional world. This is why he’s invested his time guiding young people.”


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.