You thought that youth program had gone well that night. The small group discussion touched on a difficult topic, but it truly felt like the Lord spoke through you. The kids had been so responsive. When you didn’t know an answer to their question you told them. As a group you wrestled with some deep thoughts.
The next morning you get a call from Mrs. Smith. “What did you teach on last night?” she asked. You are confused, knowing her daughter Roya probably had told her. For a few minutes you explain. Mrs. Smith goes on, “I didn’t appreciate it at all. You really messed Roya up. You gave her a lot of misinformation.”
Continuing, Mrs. Smith transitions from calm to accusatory. “You shouldn’t teach a small group anymore. I heard you don’t even teach the Bible and just give the students your opinion on life.” The conversation ends with Mrs. Smith informing you her next call is to “the pastor,” for you are only “part-time anyway”. Not only does Mrs. Smith call the pastor, she starts calling all of her friends in the church.
Your “boss” supports you. He doesn’t feel like you have done anything wrong. When you talk to him, you give him every angle of the conversation from the last evening. Now your integrity has come into question from several of the parents. You don’t want to talk to your friends about it, because they are in the church as well and you don’t want to be divisive.
Sound extreme? I think many of us have had a variation of this experience.
How do you handle Mrs. Smith?
Pray for her:
Our feelings are crushed in these types of situations. We would love to just crawl in a hole and die. Hurting people hurt people, even in the church. Our feelings may be crushed, but there is a deeper reason here. We don’t want to lose Roya, so we need to learn how to deal with Mrs. Jones. Pray.
The Rule of Twos:
Is this a pattern with Mrs. Smith? Does she call often and blame you for something? Offer to sit down with her with leadership that is “above” you. Approach your Senior leadership, and ask them how they would like you to proceed. When your “boss” has your back then you can know how to move forward.
Face to Face Meetings:
Make sure that any phone call is followed up with a face to face meeting. (See The Rule of Twos)
If she interacts with you on an email, CC any contact with her to your senior leadership. Avoid written communication as much as possible. While it does create a “paper trail,” it also can miscommunicate your intentions easily.
How do we avoid having these conversations in the first place? Over-communicate to parents on EVERYTHING (more on this tomorrow.) Sometimes we can’t avoid them, and that makes us sad.
How have you handled the “blaming parent?”