Last week, we looked at 3 types of parents that you’ll work with as a youth pastor. Starting today, we’ll look at strategies for dealing with each type of parent. To begin, here are 7 strategies for working with helicopter parents, those parents who hover over their child, dangerously close, never letting them gain any age-appropriate independence.

  • Anticipate their questions. When planning an event, think like a helicopter parent. These are the parents who are prone to worry and as such, anticipating their questions and concerns will help you plan and execute your event well and reduce their worries.

  • Give them lots of information. Much of what drives helicopter parents is fear. To combat this fear, one of the best things you can do is preemptively disseminate information – especially information that addresses the questions and concerns you know they have. The more information helicopter parents have, the easier it will be for them to trust you with their teen.

  • Read information like a helicopter parent. Before you send an e-mail, text, or mailing, read through it through the lens of a helicopter parent. What red flags does the information raise? Taking time to address those red flags now will save you time and energy in the long haul.

  • Help them serve… In other ministries. Because of how involved they are in their teens lives, helicopter parents are typically some of the parents who are most invested in your church and ministry. However, their desire to hover over their own child typically makes it difficult for them to serve in youth ministry. So work with them to identify their gifts and find appropriate areas in your church to utilize them. If they must serve in youth ministry, find ways for them to do so behind the scenes, away from their own teen, who will likely clam up or act out if their parents are present. Additionally, always check with teens BEFORE inviting their parent to be involved in your ministry in any way. Doing so tells them that you have their back and that you care more about them than pleasing their parents.

  • Never run. As a hiker, I know that one of the most dangerous situations I could find myself in is getting caught between a mother bear and her cubs. A mother bear will do ANYTHING to defend and protect her cubs. So, too, will helicopter parents. This means that you’ll likely have more interaction – and more confrontation – with helicopter parents than with other type of parents. Just as you’d never turn your back on a mother bear and run, you never want to run away from a helicopter parent. Instead, listen to them, even when they’re criticizing you. Try to find a nugget of truth in what’s being said. Ask good questions to try to find out what’s at the heart of their concern. Then address that.

  • Affirm them. All parents appreciate hearing good things about their kids. This is especially true of helicopter parents. So when you notice their teen doing something good, take time to make a phone call, send a text, or write a note and tell their parents. Doing so will help them relax (ever so slightly!) and learn to trust their teen more and more.

  • Affirm parents to their teen. The relationship between a teen and their helicopter parent is especially complicated since teens are often resentful of their parents’ hovering. As a result, teens who have this type of parent often see their parent negatively. Whenever possible, affirm parents to teens to help them see their parents in a more positive light.

As you work with helicopter parents, no matter how overbearing they may at times become, remember that they love their kids and want what’s best for them. In fact, they love their kids far more than we ever will as their youth pastor. Because they do, it’s important that we gain their support and have their back. Helicopter parents are not our enemies; They, like all parents, are our partners in ministry.

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