‘Tis the season for parent meetings. Most youth workers see this meeting as a right of passage every fall. We have to have the parent meeting so we can go over the calendar. How else will we get parents involved? The problem is, few parents show up to these meetings—and I wouldn’t either.
There’s one major problem with this type of parent meeting: It’s not about the parents. These meetings are about you and your plans for the year. Usually, they’re little more than calendar reviews (because clearly parents can’t read those on their own time). Parent meetings lack creativity and purpose. Parents know they can read the calendar online, so they skip the hassle of an intrusive meeting.
It’s time to start thinking about what the parents need. Consider the following:
- Have a parent meeting focused on “how to pay for college.” You can spend five minutes covering your calendar, and then ask an expert from a local college to walk parents through a college payment plan. Do you think parents would miss that?
- Have a parent meeting focused on the problems parents are facing. Before a parent meeting, place signs around the room with subjects you know are important to parents. After covering the usual stuff (calendars and upcoming events), ask parents to think about their greatest need in terms of parenting their students. The parents can then move to the sign that best fits the problem they identified. A facilitator at each sign could lead a discussion about the subject, and parents could share stories and solutions. The camaraderie you will build between parents is priceless. They won’t just be concerned with van arrival times; they’ll be real people sharing real problems and finding real solutions.
- Invite the principle of the local high school to be the guest speaker for your parent meeting. Title the night “A Behind-the-Scenes View of High School.” Ask the principle to share the things he or she most wants parents to know about their students. I bet parents would show up for that meeting.
Remember, if you want parents involved in your ministry, focus on their needs. Make parent meetings about the parents.