Equipping Parents: Part One

Written by Matt Larkin: 

About 10 years ago, I came across a book that got me thinking about something significant I could do to increase my impact in the lives of my students. The book was called The Youth Worker’s Guide to Parent Ministry. When I came across it, it was one of the first times I really began to think seriously about the importance of equipping parents, and the impact it could have in the lives of my students. It was also probably the first time I began to think about the many challenges parents face.

PARENTING CHALLENGES

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post here on the Youth Specialties blog, called MINISTERING TO THE MODERN FAMILYEssentially, I wrote the post to begin to explore the many challenges that face the modern family in all its diverse forms. These challenges seem to be much greater than they were even 10 to 12 years ago when I came across that book. 

Parents face significant challenges today that wouldn’t have even been on their radar a decade ago.

With that in mind, it has never been more important for youth workers to equip themselves to feed into the lives of the parents of their students.

Throughout the Scriptures, parents are given an enormous task. Passages such as Proverbs 22 or Deuteronomy 6 call parents to make the discipleship and spiritual development of their kids a priority of the highest order. With as busy as many parents are, and with as many challenges that contemporary life brings them, tending to the spiritual development of their kids can often fall to the background or become a task too great for parents to tackle.

For one thing, modern life is moving fast. Our students are engaged in an enormous amount of activities. In addition, the internet presents new challenges never thought of by previous generations of parents. If that’s not enough, many parents are going it alone as single parents or trying to juggle full-time work on top of the mass of challenges that face them as parents. These things and more can leave parents feeling ill-equipped before they even get to the issue of their kids’ spiritual lives.

LISTENING AND LEARNING

With as overwhelmed as many parents are, you may be asking yourself, what can I do to help? How can I be an effective resource in the life of the parents of my students? Well, there are a lot of ways we as youth workers can help parents, but I think it starts here . . . by simply listening to parents and learning where the parents of our students are experiencing their greatest need.

Are they struggling with time management?

Are they trying to figure out this whole Facebook thing?

Is one of their kids struggling in school?

Or are they actually looking for help in learning to model their faith effectively for their kids?

The parents of our students are probably dealing with these questions and many more. 

The most effective way we can begin to equip parents is to take the time to learn about their needs.

This means spending time getting to know parents, which means intentionally seeking them out at their kids’ activities, or when they pick up their kids from youth group. It means making yourself available and accessible to parents as regularly as you can. And in those times, it means asking questions and really listening to what they have to say. Just as with most any ministry, it is only when we first listen and learn that we have the proper information to begin to effectively respond.

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