“Why did you get rid of the ping-pong table in the youth room?” Mrs. Jones is snapping at you, “These students need to have more fun when they are with you.”
You are thinking about how distracting the ping–pong table was and the number of paddles lost through the years. She continues, “I heard that you are taking the kids to the Dominican Republic this summer on their missions trip. You really should take them to Honduras, that would be better.” She walks away before you even have a chance to respond. Before you even get home, an email has popped up from Mrs. Jones. She is taking issue with the way you are going to run next month’s fundraiser.
Mrs. Jones seems to have an opinion on every single thing you try to do in your group. You are feeling judged. You are wondering how to avoid Mrs. Jones and never talk to her again.
Instead of ignoring and avoiding, how can we engage opinionated parents?
Avoid Getting Defensive:
When they come to “share” avoid getting defensive. When you can explain your methods to Mrs. Jones or your reasons, simply give straightforward reasoning.
Consider Their Ideas:
Are there times when one of Mrs. Jones’ ideas might be a good one? If it is, can you put her in charge of her own idea? On the occasions when you are ready to run with an idea, tell her, “That’s great. Would you be in charge of that?”
Meet With Them:
If Mrs. Jones will not stop, “sharing” set up a meeting with her asking her heart behind her opinions. Is it just that she wants to share, or does she really feel like her opinions are the best ones?
Have a “vision casting” session with your parents. Do they know where you are taking their kids in your ministry? If you let the parents like Mrs. Jones know (and then remind them) of the vision you can let them know when an “idea” doesn’t fit.
Brainstorm WITH Parents:
Brainstorm with parents their vision for the ministry. What are you doing well? What would they change? Are you inviting parents overall in to bring ideas and thoughts about ways they would like to see their children impacted.
There are so many ways to approach parents. In the end, it is about remembering that they are the major player in the story of their children’s lives. They have the right to speak their minds. They never have a “right” to be mean or disrespectful. We don’t have to “run” with every idea. I think many parents just have different ways of letting us know that they care for their children.
How do you handle opinionated parents?