I realized as I dropped my child off tonight how little we have spoken. You smiled, and waved. Sometimes you even come over and make small talk as you hand off the permission slip for the latest outing. Many times though our interaction is far less personal, it comes in an email, or Facebook message. Other times information is simply passed via the Sunday morning announcements or the expectation that I attend the latest parent meeting. It can feel like you are always telling me what YOU want/need. I have been thinking lately that it has been awhile since you stopped and asked what I might need. Thus the impetus for this letter.
- Please Get To Know Me: I am not sure if you know things have been kind of tough these days? It seems like I am flighty and forgetful. It feels like you have tried to communicate with me and still I have no idea what is going on. However, I haven’t felt like I can keep my head above water. Before you decide who I am and who I am not, could you take the time to get to know me?
- Partner With Me: I know sometimes I think you are the expert on all things teens. That is why I call you and ask the hard questions about why my child is acting the way that they are. Please don’t decide that I should be pushed aside. I know I don’t always have it all together. I don’t need a replacement, I need you in this with me.
- Please Get to Know My Child: I know that there are a lot of students who attend the weekly meeting. However, last week when you asked me if my child was home-schooled, it sort of put me off. Especially since they attend the Christian school at the church where you work. If you can’t get to know my child well, I am wondering if there is someone else in the ministry who could? My child is looking for role models. I would rather it is you than someone else from the “world.”
- Over Communicate to Me: The email that I got telling about the youth trip didn’t really give much information. You told me what time you are leaving and coming back. I got a basic schedule for the trip. However, what kind of bus are you riding on? What type of hotel are you staying at? Should they bring spending money? I feel like I have to ask too many questions about the activities you are taking my child on. What if I am an “unchurched” parent and have no idea what a mission’s trip even is? You will build a lot of trust with me simply from over-communicating everything to me. (Also, then when I ask those idiotic questions you know you already told me.)
- Don’t Give Up On Me: Before you decide that I will “never” be any better, please see me with the eyes of Christ. Remember I need him too. I know sometimes I am the “thorn” in your side. I need you to recall that I am still the parent in my child’s life. Please treat me that way, even when I don’t deserve it.
- Treat Us Like A Family: I come with the “package” when it comes to my child. Are there ways that you can help us grow as a family? Can you provide ways that can teach us how to interact? I know you are already busy, still please don’t ignore me for the sake of my child.
- Parent Meetings: I love it that I have heard your vision for the group. Thank you for laying out the calendar for the year. Could you stop and ask what I might want my child to get out of your group? Now, I am not saying to go with all my “ideas.” Instead, look at my heart. All I ask is that you hear me.
- Get Me Involved: I may not be the parent that plans your trip. I may not be the one that runs every bake sale. However, if you are creative I will get involved. Are there ways that you can include and connect me to my child? Can you be innovative in ways I might get involved?
As I read all that I have written, I hope it doesn’t sound pompous or entitled. I do understand that you work hard. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get to everything. My child is not your only one. All I am looking for is to be included.
(P.S. This year my own children entered youth programming for the first time that my husband and I haven’t run. I used to think that I was an excellent youth pastor, and I might have been all right. Then I entered the “parent” role in youth ministry- and it was totally different!)