As a baby youth minister, my biggest apprehension was how to best work with parents. My year of service had been filled with intergenerational Ministry. I had learned about how important it was to have a relationship with parents as a youth minister. The difference? Now I was coming into a different community that hadn’t done much intergenerational Ministry. My biggest fear was that parents wouldn’t take me seriously because I was only 23, or that they wouldn’t trust me with their teens.
Cue prayers and a few very friendly parents. Here a few things that I learned about working with parents as a young youth minister:
Be proactive and patient:
The 7pm mass is central to our youth ministry program. One of the best (and most difficult) things that I have done is go up and introduce myself to parents of teens and younger children. Sometimes parents are indifferent to my hello, and sometimes they are so grateful to be welcomed. I’ve learned to be patient and welcome each person where they are. I stand in the vestibule before and after mass, to be present, to say hello, and to be a part of the community. Now that I’ve been at this parish for a couple of years, I’ve built relationships with whole families, not just teens.
Minister to parents too:
As my role shifts in the parish, I can’t wait to be able to do more ministry with parents. We’re offering workshops and info sessions for parents to add tools to their tool box. The biggest thing that I have taken away from these past few years, is that the youth ministry is to help parents reinforce the good things that their children are hearing at home (in most cases). Parent’s need that support and want to hear about ways they can implement the faith in their home. I’ve also learned to tell parents how awesome their child is. By doing these small practices, trust is built, and we are showing God’s love to the parents of our teens.
Pray for your teens and their families:
We all know that we should be praying for our teens. But, we should be praying for their whole family. The domestic church is where the seed of faith is planted. Regardless of whether our teens have a great family dynamic, or not, we should always pray for the domestic church. One thing that I hope to implement next year are prayer services for whole families. We’re doing youth ministry, but our youth are a part of families. We need to foster that relationship too.
“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” Mother Teresa