Anyone older than age 15 will tell you that middle school can be tough. Figuring out locker combinations, class (and body) changes, deciphering the new social structure and where that means you sit at lunch—throw in a mouth full of green and blue braces, and you have the recipe for the most awkward years of a student’s life.
But these years aren’t just tough on students. Parents who are transitioning a child from elementary school to middle school are acutely affected by the middle school years as well. Their own experience, the stories they hear, not to mention the way their own kids have been acting, has them hypersensitive to this new season they are entering, and with good reason. In middle school, students are just beginning to individuate. They still depend on their parents for almost everything, but there is a quickly growing desire to figure it out for themselves. It’s a healthy and normal process, but can be a bit scary—especially for the parents as they are forced to let go a little.
It’s critical to let parents know that you, as a small group leader, want to partner with them during this season. Most parents feel like they are blindly guessing at how to best raise their kids, and feel pretty lonely. If they know they have someone on their team, it can go a long way toward reducing the stress of it all. So how can you as a small group leader be on the parents’ team? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Catch them at church. This is an easy way to make an initial connection and put a face with a name. It also shows initiative on your part. You aren’t simply showing up to a program to “babysit” their kid, you want to invest in the life of their child.
2. Give them a call. Even a brief phone conversation will not only let the parent know you care, but will give you insight into the life of that family. Ask how the family is doing with the transition to middle school so far. Find out what extra curricular activities their child is involved with. Ask if they have any questions about the student ministry. If you can’t answer them, go find out and get back to them.
3. Find out if your student ministry leader has a parent meeting planned. If they do, ask if you can attend and meet some parents. Maybe they could introduce you (and others) and let parents get to know you a little.
Certainly there are other ways to connect with parents, but these few ideas should get you well down the road. Parents will love knowing they have an ally as they enter the middle school years, and beyond.