A bit of advice as you begin to read this article. I want to share five things that youth workers should teach parents, but I want to begin with one thing they should not try to teach parents:
Do not try to teach parents how to parent. This is not your job.
Additionally, many of you don’t have the expertise to teach others on parenting. Why? Because you are not a parent or are not yet the parent of a teenager. But even if you are the parent of a teenager, this is still not your role.
Most of you want to help parents parent better and the good news is that you can. But instead of teaching them about something you don’t have expertise in, teach them about something you do know…teenagers! Youth workers know a lot about teenagers and you can greatly help the parents in your ministry by teaching them about the following five things:
We can help parents understand what is going on with their teenager physically and developmentally during this strange time we call adolescence. We can teach or remind them of what is happening cognitively as a teenager’s brain is developing. This information will help parents better understand what is happening with their teenager.
We can help parents think about how spiritual formation must change as youth transition from childhood and begin to move through adolescence. We can provide suggestions for how family devotionals can evolve into Bible study discussions. We can encourage spiritual growth through family ministry opportunities.
Related to spiritual formation is helping parents begin to ask good questions of their youth. As youth seek to establish their independence, we can help parents understand the important of asking questions. We can help prepare them to engage their youth in faith discussions about issues in the local, national, and world media. We can encourage them to listen, knowing that youth are beginning to formulate their own opinions and are testing things out to make up their own mind on issues.
What is the most powerful expression of love to a teenager? Someone taking the time to focus on and listen to them. We need to remind parents that youth want to know that their thoughts, ideas, and concerns matter. They want someone to see and acknowledge their joy, pain, and questions. We can remind them of the important role they play in this part of their child’s development.
We can remind parents that they are not alone. We can’t do this by ourselves unless we are parents of teenagers, but we can create space for parents of youth to be together and talk about the challenges of raising teens. Parents need to know that they are not the only ones struggling with understanding and raising teens, although most of you can’t teach them about parenting teens, because you aren’t the parent of a teenager. You can let them teach each other.
There are a few other things that youth ministers can teach parents, but I believe these are the most important. These are things you can teach when asked to talk with the “Parents of Teens” Sunday school class. These topics would make a great four-week series that you could help lead or simply organize.
Here are some resources to help you as you teach these things to parents:
Understanding Your Teenager—Great parent seminar. It is worth the money. Be sure you invite other churches and the community!
Real World Parents—Great website with helpful resources for parents and youth ministers. Real World Parents also does workshops that are worth the money.
Raising Teens in an Almost Christian World—This resource is a parent’s guide to Kenda Creasy Dean’s Almost Christian and is perfect for parent small groups. Faith Tools for developing spiritual formation at home are included in each lesson.
Raising Adults—Great book for a parents’ group to study focused on what parents should do so that they raise mature Christian adults.
Please share other parenting resources below!