Drawing Parents Close


By Emily Robbins

One of the things I struggle with is when someone doesn’t like me, or I believe that someone doesn’t like me, then it’s easier for me to avoid them. I have done this with friends, youth, parents of youth and co-workers over the years. I am not proud of it. As I pull away from them – they believe that I don’t want much to do with them. Which can cause even more trouble with our relationship.

It’s been interesting for me because I normally involve as many parents into leadership within my youth ministry as possible. But at my current church that hasn’t been a part of the culture. There are incredible young adults that lead small groups and go on mission trips and help with retreats. Parents sometimes make or provide food but not much more than that.

So many of the parents are surprised when I express an interest in getting to know them. There are some that flat out have said no.

For almost two years, I have been intentionally drawing others close, especially parents that seem to not like me.

It isn’t always easy.

Anyone else have a few parents of youth that seem to not like what you do, say or provide for their teen?

I have been serving with my current church for 1½ years and I feel like I am still getting to know the church family, my youth and their parents. I asked every family to invite me over for dinner or for a game night when I first started at this church and many of them have. But many of them have not. And of course it is some of the families that have not invited me over that I am having trouble connecting with and ministering to.

How do you invite parents to get to know you better?

How about these ideas:

  • Invite them to go to coffee with you
  • Call them up to chat
  • Send them an email
  • Challenge them
  • Ask them to chaperone an event or a trip

What else?

Recently I have done all of the above, even asking two of the parents to chaperone on a trip with me. Both trips went so well! I was not sure if I was going to regret having them as a chaperone but what we learned is that all of us have more in common than we expected. And it has allowed me to get to know some of the parents in a way that I truly didn’t expect.

I realize that drawing others close is a risk. It can also not work out well. But I believe that I am called to be in ministry with all of my youth and their families to the best of my ability. So I do attempt to reach out to all of them even the ones I want to avoid.

If they don’t respond, at some point “shake the dust off your feet” and move on. But do try. Take the risk. You never know who might become your friend.