how to respond to angry parents in your ministry

How to Respond to Angry Parents in your Family Ministry

Let’s talk about the dark side of Parent Ministry. In fact, one reason youth and children ministers avoid ministry altogether is Parent Drama. Angry parents can be a huge drain on your energy level as a church leader and is a source of some serious stress. But there are some important habits you can develop to help diffuse angry parents, so you can get back to the fun parts of family ministry. Here are 5 ways to respond to angry parents in your ministry. 

1. Let them be heard.

90% of the complaints and anger I’ve experienced from parents go away if I **genuinely** listen to them. Even if I don’t do what they say, they typically calm down if they know they’ve been heard.

2. Respond with as little emotion as possible.

What’s funny is that this is something I teach parents to do when responding to angry teenagers. But in both situations, if you match anger with anger it creates a crazy cycle of drama.

3. Apologize when it’s appropriate.

What if the angry parents are right? You aren’t perfect. Maybe, just maybe you can swallow pride and accept responsibility. Humble apologies have a way of smothering anger.

4. Insert some time into the scenario.

After you listen to them ask for time to think, pray, and talk to other parents to see if they are having a similar experience. Then promise to get back to them. This forces some time to calm down. Every time I’ve done this, the follow-up meeting is not as intense.

5. If you can’t find a way towards some type of agreement, then use this line:

“As much as I love and care about your family, I can’t do what you’re asking me to do. Here’s my reason why it won’t work for me (clearly explain your reason). I know that’s now what you wanted to hear, and I’m sorry we couldn’t agree on this.” There’s nothing magical about that line, and it won’t make the problem go away. But it will clearly communicate that you are done with the argument, and it’s time to move on.

OK, those are some of my “go-to” ways to respond to angry parents. How do you respond to anger with the parents in your ministry?

I went searching for some other family ministry ideas on how to respond to angry parents, and here are some cool links that I found:

Jeremy Lee is the founder of Ministry to Parents, co-author of Pass It On, and has more than twenty-four years of ministry experience. He is passionate about helping ministers create strategic plans for connecting with the parents in their church. He lives outside Nashville, Tn with his wife Elisabeth and two sons. 

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