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How do I handle parental complaints? Easiest question ever!

STEP 1 Ignore them as long as possible. Parents can wait! Hey, you’re enjoying well-deserved time off playing Halo 4 after The Extreme Best Overnighter in the World (T.E.B.O.W. for short). The best way to ignore critical parents is to follow this handy advice:

If the complaint arrives via voicemail, ignore it. The upset person is at least 50, so help him or her take a technology baby step by waiting at least 48 hours to respond. But if the person name-drops a key elder or deacon, call back immediately.

If the complaint comes via written letter, toss it. Snail mail? Did a mystical portal drop me into 1974? After a few days, simply throw away the letter. Then claim it must’ve been lost in the mail.

If parents complain via text-message, reply ASAP. This is true especially if they’re likely to start a social-media insurrection. Jam out a quick apology, promising to make everything right.


STEP 2 When you do talk to disgruntled parents, accept no responsibility.
Have a scapegoat handy (a convenient college-age hipster is perfect). Be ready with key deflections to indicate the situation was out of your hands and you’re totally disappointed, too. Then hope no videos surface of you laughing during the incident. Keep these clever excuses ready in a pinch:

I wish someone had made me aware of this right away. Redirection places the blame back on parents. For a solid follow-up, work in this one: I guess we’ll never know the truth now.

I’ll deal with those people immediately. Was it your choice to play that R-rated movie? Was it your call to duct-tape a freshman to the ceiling? Who knows? With careful word play, parents will never know, either.

STEP 3 Drive a wedge between parents and teenagers. Divide and conquer is a biblical concept, so undermine parents whenever possible. Roll your eyes when Dad isn’t looking. Exchange knowing glances with kids to show how out-of-touch their parents are. Pacify adults long enough so you can plan The Next Big Thing That Will Change The World Overnighter Extravaganza(T.N.B.T.T.W.C.T.W.O.E. for short).

By now I hope you get the idea: Do the opposite of everything you’ve just read and you’ll handle complaints well. They’re a tough but necessary part of your growth as a leader. Jump in quickly, take responsibility, and repair the damage. Blessings on the journey!

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!

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  • Shannon Hutchison says:

    Funniest. Thing.Ever. This just got hung up in my office.

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