A few weeks ago, we looked at 3 types of parents that you’ll work with as a youth pastor. Today, we’ll continue looking at strategies for dealing with each type of parent. Here are 7 strategies for working with spaceship parents – those who are absent or unaware of what’s happening in their child’s life.
- Seek them out whenever they appear. Spaceship parents are not likely to be found in weekly worship services. As a result, whenever you do see them, make a point of connecting. Introduce yourself. Ask them a question. Remind them about upcoming events for their teens. Affirm their presence.
- Connect on their terms, on their turf. Since spaceship parents are absent, don’t expect to see them at parent meetings or other family events in your youth ministry. Instead, make every effort to connect with them in other ways. Occasionally call and leave a message saying you’re praying for their family or send them a note of encouragement via snail mail.
- Don’t give false accolades. Don’t compliment spaceship parents on their parenting unless it’s genuine. Instead, encourage spaceship parents by complimenting their teens. Help spaceship parents get to know their kids by naming the qualities and characteristics you see in them.
- Don’t stop communicating to them. When you send information to spaceship parents it may indeed feel as though it’s drifting aimlessly into outer space. You’ll rarely, if ever, get a response from spaceship parents. However, communicating information to them keeps the channels of communication open between you.
- Get to know them as people, not just as parents. The absence of spaceship parents from their teen’s life can make it difficult for them to relate to you in the same way other parents do. So connect with spaceship parents on a personal level. Through whatever means you can, get to know them as people, independent of their teens. Find out what their passions and interests are as well as what they care about.
- Specifically invite them to engage with their teen in ways that don’t require their presence. Ask spaceship parents to write their teen a letter that you’ll give them during a retreat, trip, or other overnight event. To make this even easier for spaceship parents to do, give them specific prompts to follow in writing their letter like tell your teen why you appreciate them or write out a prayer for your teen
- Give them prayer prompts. Prayer prompts encourage parents to find out about specific aspects of their child’s life and then pray for them, something parents can do regardless of how involved (or uninvolved) they are in their teen’s life.
Like it or not, even a distant or absent parent is still the most important spiritual influence in their teen’s life. Investing in them is therefore worth our time and effort.
More in this series:
7 strategies for working with helicopter parents
7 tips for dealing with airplane parents
Image credit: http://autismmythbusters.com/parents/
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