Last week I had coffee with a youth leader who was interested in learning how he could better “partner with parents”. As he kept repeating that term during the course of the conversation, I realized that my understanding of “partnering with parents” seemed different than his.

So I asked him what he meant by “partnering with parents”.

“Well, we have so many needs that parents can help with. We need drivers and food at our events. I’d love to see more of them get involved in our ministry.”

As I told him, that is indeed a slice of what it means to partner with parents. But it’s not the whole pie. In fact, I’d make it a pretty small slice.

In my opinion, the biggest slice of “partnering with parents” is helping them, not getting them to help us in our ministry. Parenting is a fabulous adventure, but it’s so hard. My job is pretty demanding but it’s a piece of chocolate cake compared to being the parent I want to be.

As youth leaders, we can help parents by:

  • Sharing ideas on how to discuss at home (or on the drive to or from church) the Scriptural messages we talk about at youth group (which means we have to let parents know the themes of our talks and small group meetings).
  • Spreading what we know about youth culture with parents. Every parent I know is wrestling with how to navigate technology at home; we as youth leaders can help them know what technology means to kids and give them some ideas for boundaries and best practices at home.
  • Communicating far in advance about our youth group activities. Youth leaders make parents’ lives far more challenging when calendar communication is last minute and inaccurate.
  • Encouraging kids to build bridges with their parents, or at least see events and family interactions through their parents’ lenses.

What are some of your best ideas to help parents win with their kids?