regret

Dealing With Difficult Parents

Leadership //

We all know them…the parents you just can’t keep happy. You have met them if you serve in a church or school. They are the parents that always have a complaint, are never satisfied, and never say thanks. Many times we allow this small minority to cloud our perceptions of the majority of amazing parents we partner with because they are just so loud. A few years ago at an amazing event we had one parent who was frustrated because there were just “too many kids there”…the event was “unsafe”…her middle school kids would not be “safe”. Even after one of our amazing volunteers explained why we had the biggest crowd of our history and how we worked to helps kids have a safe experience the parent took her teens and left. What do you do with that? Here is what we have learned over the years…

  • Some parents will never understand what we do and why we do it. // many parents will never understand the passion we have for our calling as a minister or an educator. Go ahead and come to terms with the fact that some people will never get it!
  • Listen and process even when it’s that chronic complaining parent. // just listen and learn what you can. Many times complaints some from areas in your ministry that need some tweaking.
  • Always remember we partner with parents and never compete with parents. // no matter what you think about a parent remember you are there to support them. You will be a teen’s small group leader or student pastor for a few years. They are parents for life.
  • Return calls and emails quickly. // when a parents has a complaint or issue just return the email or make the call as soon as you can. Most parents (even the chronic complainer) just needs their questions answered.
  • Make sure you know why you do what you do and continually cast that vision. // you always need to be able to explain why you do what you do to anyone who asks, especially a parent. If you can’t do that why would any parent trust you or believe in you?
  • Give grace and be patient. // being a parent is hard, parenting a teen is sometimes impossible. Slow down, give grace, be patient. You will be amazed what a gentle response in a tense moment will do.

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About the Author

I am a follower of Christ, a husband, a dad, and a pastor. I serve at Grace Community Church as Executive Pastor. Before this position at GCC I served in multiple family ministry roles as kids, student, and family pastor for 15 years. I’m passionate about communicating, creating environments, and leading leaders, volunteers, and teams (it’s the inner coach in me, I love empowering people to do great things). Thankfully I have a job that allows me to do all three of these things.