Should We REQUIRE Parent Involvement In Our Youth Programs?

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Should We REQUIRE Parent Involvement In Our Youth Programs?In Renewing the Vision, it says

Ministry with adolescents recognizes that the family has the primary responsibility for the faith formation of young people and that the parish and Catholic school share in it.

But what if the family is not involved, AT ALL!

I have had this discussion with many leaders and have heard many different takes on how they handle the need for more adult involvement in our youth programs.  Some of them, when they do not have enough Catechists, just start turning kids down until more adults step up.  Others just make group sizes larger and, while still searching and praying for more help, require even more from the adults that have stepped up.

I think the first thing is to just say it for what it is.  It is a crisis.

I do not think we can so easily turn youth down that are coming to the Church for whatever reason and do not think we should be burning out those adults who so graciously give of their time by stacking more duties on their plate.  Yes, many parents are failing to step up and be responsible for the faith of their child, but as the quote says above, we share in that failure.  It is our fault as well and we have a lot of ground to make up in doing our part before we can really put all the blame on the parents.

So start asking yourself:

  • How can we better serve the adults to help them in this responsibility?
  • What is it that is stopping adults from stepping up?
  • How can we better utilize the people that are stepping up?
  • How can we better use our time to reach out and support the adults in parishes?

Even if  Adult Faith Formation is not in your job description.  You have a ministry to the parents because you share in their responsibilities.

A few quick tips that may help:

  • Start a parent newsletter with encouraging words, bits of training and wisdom, explanation of current youth culture.
  • Make yourself more available and present to the adults in the parish by doing adult things in the parish (weird I know!)
  • Call parents often just to thank them and encourage them for having their youth involved in the parish.

Hope that helps.

Do you have other ideas of how we can help?  What do you do in regard to requiring parent involvement in your parish?  Do you require it?  Should we? Please discuss below in the comment section.

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Eric Gallagher (@ericjgallagher) has over 12 years of experience in full-time youth ministry in the Diocese of Sioux Falls where he currently serves as the Director of Youth Discipleship & Evangelization for the Diocese. Eric is a husband and father of four. He primarily blogs over at DiscipleshipYM.com.
  • We are currently in the midst of this crisis. We had not enough volunteers for the number of students registered. So we created a ‘waiting list’ for kids, and notified their parents (through personal phone call) that their child was on a waiting list. We told them that when we had more adults volunteer, then we would be able to open up another class session for their child to enroll in. Parents were not pleased with the news, so it was definately a need for some pastoral conversations! We followed that with an invitation for the parents to volunteer, and gave them about 10 different options of how they could assist in our program. In the meantime, we continued praying, trusting God, recruiting, asked our current volunteers to recommend or invite friends, and sent out a parent letter detailing the ways our parish can help them become better parents (including how volunteering to teach can help them build better relationships with their kids!) After about a week of putting kids on the waiting list, we started to get parents who responded to the invitation. We are being blessed with volunteers who otherwise would not have stepped forward. Several parents have told me that they really needed 4 or 5 invitations and reminders from God before saying yes. We have worked with busy parent volunteers to arrange alternate time committments, such as team teaching or volunteering once a month, which fit their schedules better. We are also creating a new parent page on our website to better reach out to parents.

     
    • @facebook-1329761514:disqus – That is great! Glad to have you guys in the Diocese 🙂

       
  • Marie

    We have hit the same problem with not enough adults for our children and youth. The two most common “reasons” parents give for not volunteering are:

    1. Not enough time.
    2. Not enough knowledge.

    The time is understandable – everyone is working now to support their family, and between their own scheduled and that of their kids, it is difficult to find time to commit to leading a faith formation session every week.

    The lack of knowledge is what makes me sad. We are dealing with an un-catechized generation who aren’t comfortable or knowledgeable enough in their faith to share it with youth. As often as we reiterate that as a catechist you learn with your youth, the adults are often too embarrassed or too uncertain to do it because they, themselves, don’t have a lot of knowledge of their faith. But even trying to educate our parents and encourage adult formation is difficult because it takes you right back to the time issue.

    It’s a struggle. We had to announce that two of our classes would not be offered because we didn’t have the adult leadership – at which time people DID volunteer, but more out of duress than because they felt called to the ministry. We can only pray that they have a conversion of spirit and find that this is where they belong. Or perhaps they find that they are called to a different ministry an continue to stay involved in the church.

    In the mean time, we are taking every opportunity we can to try and catechize parents. We pray that this generation will learn with their youth, and become more involved as a family, so that our faith and tradition is passed on not because it’s what Grandma wants, but because it’s what they as Catholic Christians want.

     
    • @41f27c2bd5318b082b1194e665f95908:disqus – You hit it dead on with the two “reasons.” I actually like the word reasons because they are both valid and true, which is very unfortunate. I just did a post on the Hub with some great parent resources. The big question then is “if our time is limited, do we spend time catechizing the adults or do we find ways to include the adults in the formation of the youth?”

       
      • Marie

        Funny you should bring that up! We have actually started the approach of including adults in the formation of the youth. More specifically, the preparation of the Sacraments. All of our preparatory sessions for First Eucharist and First Reconciliation now require parent attendance and participation. Half of our Confirmation sessions require parent attendance as well. So far, we have received positive feedback from the experience.

        We have heard consistently that it is a a strain on time, but at the same time we are asking them to make this commitment a priority. It isn’t our job to work around their schedules, it is our job to equip them (both parents and youth) for a life in the Spirit. And part of that is making the commitment.

         
  • Louise

    We have a bit of a have a bit of a youth group happening in our parish. When it’s on (organised by our pastoral associate), it’s really good. Some of the parents turn up to lend a hand, which is good. We have 6 children, two of whom are still very young. When parents are busy not merely with activity, but with a large family, we simply cannot do everything ourselves. We certainly do what we can and there are “times and seasons” in peoples’ lives. I would expect that as our younger ones are in their teens, we will be able to do more of this kind of thing. Meanwhile, we teach all our children the Faith as well as we can, and pretty thoroughly, so we don’t expect others to do it for us. Our kids mostly like the youth group so they can connect in with other young parishioners.

     
    • @7d60c5670375af3ef97dcb5079cd40d8:disqus – I love the discussion of “times and seasons.” We definitely need a rock to keep things going at all times, but the art of working with parents who are busy sometimes and not at others is a very difficult art that I have yet to see someone master 🙂

       
  • Astes

    YES, definitely – you required parents and adults in your Youth. Parents and adults are not there to run the show, NO!! They are there as role models as leading adults in whatever program the Youth agreed upon. See, nowadays the youth wanted to run the show by themselves and you know what happened. Never last!! But if you give a chance to some parents to be part of each activities they will full speed in doing so to lead us youth BUT thats not what other youths wanted or like. AND thats exactly why our faith and teaching of the Catholic church lost slowly because parents and adults are not involved alot. I’d hosted heaps of youth programmes in our Diocese and it was all outstanding because of the involvement of parents and adults – give them a chnace to be part of any activity and you will see what I’m saying.

     
    • @c4b5dcea513165a50db55894da204fe4:disqus – Adults = Role Models – Thanks for sharing!