THE POSITIVE PHONE CALL TO PARENTS
When was the last time you contacted your student’s parents? Oh, I don’t mean to tell them that their daughter broke the church window during the lock-in or that their son is coming home with a goose egg on his forehead from the winter retreat.
When was the last time you reached out to a parent to share something positive about their son or daughter? If you have had enough time to say, “Ummm,” then it has likely been too long.
“When was the last time you reached out to a parent to share something positive about their son or daughter?”
As leaders, we have the unique opportunity to see students outside of their normal element. We see how they deal with the stress of an overseas mission trip. We watch how they navigate social waters and reach out to a student standing alone. And we witness how they lean into a friend and pray with them during difficult times.
From personal experience, I have seen a mom’s eyes well up in tears when she heard how her daughter was including some of the girls who felt like outsiders. Another mom was completely surprised when I shared that I had seen great leadership potential in her daughter. And once I even saw a mom squeal in delight when I told her how polite her son had been while riding in my van to an event! We see what others aren’t always privileged to see, and that reason alone merits more conversations between us and parents.
I’ve found it most helpful to reach out to parents during these times of the year:
Beginning of the Year
At the beginning of the year, I call and introduce myself. I let parents know my contact information and that I will be their student’s small group leader/mentor. I ask them to tell me about their child, and I let them know that my role is to say the same thing they are saying, just as a different voice. Then I encourage them to call me if there is anything going on that they feel l need to know to support their child well.
In the Middle of the School Year
At least one time during the school year, I send a note or make a phone call to tell parents about a “positive happening.” Parenting is by far the hardest job I have ever had, and I can still remember the times when I received a positive phone call about one of my children. So often those calls came when I felt like I was the worst parent ever!
End of the School Year
I also call or send a note at the end of the school year to thank the parents for sharing their student with me and recap several positive moments over the past 9 months. I tell them about how I have seen their student grow in their relationship with the Lord and as an individual.
When I have the opportunity to work with a student for their entire high school career, I reach out to their parents close to the time of graduation. I use this as an opportunity to thank parents for their support and reflect on a students’ growth and participation and various youth group activities over the last four years. This helps me to be mindful of the time and financial sacrifices made by our families.
You might ask, “But what about those challenging students or the quiet ones?” I would argue that even challenging or quiet students show some signs of growth and maturity. Look for the positive, and you will find it. Holistic ministry requires caring for the whole student, and that includes their parents. You may never know how much they need to hear what you have to share!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cheryl Franklin Baertschi
Cheryl and her husband live in Carmel, Indiana and have raised 4 boys. After their youngest left the nest 6 years ago, she decided to fill the quiet house with high school and college age girls that she could encourage, mentor and disciple. She continues to learn daily from them.