Ministry with children and youth is just as much about the parents as it is the kids themselves. But sometimes our approach to equipping parents can actually have the opposite result of what we want.
In my early years of ministry, I provided resources about how to be the best parent and what the “Christian parent” should be doing in their home, but I quickly learned that sometimes these types of resources created more guilt and shame than encouragement or advice. Moms did not feel they could live up to all of the resources I was providing, and it left them feeling overwhelmed.
I have learned to switch my mentality as a children’s pastor from “parent coach” to “parent cheerleader” (especially since I do not have children of my own yet). It may just seem like semantics, but this shift actually creates a brand new mindset to interacting with parents and completely changes your approach.
So what’s the difference?
A coach is someone who instructs or trains, who gives advice on how to improve.
A cheerleader is an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of what someone is doing.
Rather than being another voice in the world that tells parents what they should and shouldn’t be, find out what parents are doing and come alongside them to support them in that. (Check this out for a great way to do just that.)
So put away your whistle and pick up your pom poms. Be a cheerleader and a champion of the parents in your ministry.