By Youth Specialties on September 02 2014
We had such a great time in our Hangout with Kara Powell and Brad Griffin discussing the newest resource "The Sticky Faith Guide For Your Family." To make it easier for you to share with your youth leaders, we split up the video into different segments that you can pass along to your team for a bit of encouragment and thoughtful discussion.
There were a couple questions that we didn't have time to get to so Kara and Brad graciously sent us their response to those questions as well:
QUESTION FROM CHAD INMAN:
There is a concept about parents "stepping off the pedestal" that I think relates to the idea of parents feeling intimidated. It would be good to have Brad and Kara address this concept.
BRAD & KARA:
All of us fear failure. Parents tend to wear it like a favorite sweater. We are so afraid to be wrong about our kids, and especially in front of our kids, that we trade honesty for a false perception of flawlessness. When our parenting gets called into question, we wrap our sweater tight in defense and do what we can to stay on the pedestal in front of the kids and whoever else might be in the conversation. Stepping down—or taking off the sweater, to stick with that metaphor—means being honest enough to admit to our kids that we were wrong, that we made a mistake, and to ask them or others for forgiveness and restoration. While it’s terrifying for most parents to do this, in our interviews we found that parents who regularly practice saying “I’m sorry” with their kids build surprising bridges to share more openly about other life and faith struggles, too.
QUESTION FROM LUKE PETTENGILL:
I had a mom recently approach me with suspicion and concern that her kid's Youth Leaders know "all of these secrets about our kids" that we don't know. Unless it's a mandated thing to report, I typically keep struggles/challenges that kids are facing between myself and them. Should there be more partnering with parents in these situations, or should I be content that they "told somebody." Does this make sense?
BRAD & KARA:
If a parent has a concern about secrets, it’s important to hear that parent out and determine where the source of those fears resides. What youth workers often fail to understand is that their relationships with kids often feel threatening to parents whose adolescent children are pulling away from them emotionally. A parent looks at the hip young small group leader with whom her daughter is suddenly spending more time, and perceives this as a threat to her own once-close relationship. That stirs up fear, resentment, and can easily lead to suspicion. Take some time to listen to the parent who raises those concerns, and use it as an opportunity to encourage them and reinforce that your hope is to complement, not compete with, their family relationships.
On the other side of this question are the confidentiality issues. Just this weekend, we heard a youth pastor in Michigan share with his volunteer small group leaders a few helpful tips when it comes to confidentiality. First, if you hear something serious enough that you feel like a student is in real danger of doing harm to themselves or someone else, absolutely speak up and involve parents and professional help. Second, when a student shares something in confidence that is destructive but not imminently life-threatening, this takes some careful discernment to walk through. In these cases we still need not to leave parents in the dark, but rather to cue them that something is going on with their son or daughter that’s concerning. You want to respect your relationship with the student, but also uphold parents’ trust that you’re keeping the student’s and the family’s best interests in mind, and you’re ultimately not part of that family. Encouraging parents to have hard conversations is absolutely a feature of partnership.