Michelle Freeman is a fantastic youth minister at St. Barnabas UMC in Arlington, Texas. She shared at the Youth Worker Sabbath her idea of a Parent and Youth Night. Here’s what she does:
Parent and Youth night
6:00 pm- Pot luck supper. Parents were asked to bring their kids favorite food to share. We allowed parents to go thru the line first since they were our guest for the evening. We provided Lemonade and Tea.
6:45-Who we are as seen through “their eyes”. This will break the ice for the evening and set the tone that we are going to have fun with this. Everyone move their chairs to the main area of the family life center, Parents on one side and Youth on the other. Instruct them to get into small groups of 8-10. Ask each group to come up with “things that they always say” that may drive us nuts (youth are making list of things that their parents always say and parents are listing things that their kids always say). Give a few examples of things your parent might have said to you when you were a teenager. (mine always told me I could get glad in the same clothes I got mad in…ugh). Ask for a volunteer from the youth side to share one of their favorite sayings and to make sure they say it with the same enthusiasm that their parents use. Now ask for a parent volunteer to offer one of their group’s favorite sayings again with great enthusiasm. Go back and forth between groups till you have heard quite a few.
7:00- Role Play- ask for different volunteers for each role play. Parents will play teenagers and teenagers will play parents. As you call up each group give them their scenario and just a couple of minutes for each side to discuss. Let each role play go for just a few minutes each.
- Teenagers come home late
- Teenagers failing grades
- Teenagers skip school
7:15 Tell students that sometimes parents have to put down rules and guidelines to help us as we grow up until we are of an age to make good decisions for ourselves. If not this might be what happens. Show video clip, I used clip from “See spot run” where he feeds the kid sugary cereal when he is used to a very strict healthy diet. The kid goes crazy on a sugar high!
7:25 I had a large cardboard box that I sat on a table by me. Inside the box was different instruction books (for my VCR, Cell phone, washing machine, etc.) I showed each book and explained that we receive many instruction books for things that are important to us. (hold up each book and explain “I have 78 pages to tell me how to use my VCR, 180 pages for using my cell phone, etc”) Then tell them I want to show you what I (if you don’t have children you can turn this to- what your parents were given when they brought you home) was given when I brought home my children from the hospital. (one at a time I held up the little hat they gave them, and then the little teddy bear with the hospital name on it) Rummage around in the box as if you are looking for something and then look at the youth and say “yep, that’s all I got, you didn’t come with an instruction book and no return policy either. And each and every one of you is different, just when we think we have it figured out, the next kid that comes along is different. Parents can read tons of books on how to raise kids but they don’t even all agree. One says never say no to your kid, another says use time outs, another says don’t spank while another says bite them back when they bite you. And then there are family and friends who love to give you advice on how to raise your kids and none of them agree on anything. It’s totally confusing. So here’s the deal, your parents are doing the very best that they know how, and they are going to make a ton of mistakes. You need to offer them all the love and grace and forgiveness that you can. They are doing the best that they know how.
Now turn to your parents, you need to remember that they weren’t given an instruction manual on how to be a teenager. They have TV, movies, music, magazines and friends all giving them mixed messages, telling them different things. Please remember they are doing the best that they know how. They are going to make a ton of mistakes and you need to offer them all the love and grace and forgiveness that you can. They are doing the best that they know how.
7:35 Have youth now join a parent group that their own parents are not in. Have a parent in each group facilitate the next questions.
- What does that mean? Give parents a chance to ask youth what certain slang phrases might mean.
- I don’t think youth understand….. Let parents share with youth some of their frustrations on raising a teenager. Such as “I don’t think teenagers understand how much it hurts when they aren’t truthful with us.”
- I don’t think parents understand….. Let youth share with parents some of their struggles trying to grow up in today’s world. Such as “I don’t think parents understand the pressure we fill to succeed at everything we do.”
7:50 Have everyone form one large circle with their chairs. Youth should not sit next to their own parents but sit across from them so they can see them. The circle should be a mixture of youth and parents around the circle. Light one candle in the middle of the circle and dim the lights a little (not total darkness). Light another candle that can be passed (in a glass container). Instruct everyone that they are going to complete this sentence, “The one thing I would like my son/or daughter to know is….or the one thing I would like my parents to know is….” Remind them that this is not the “one thing I want my son to know is that when I say clean your room I mean clean your room.” But rather what is the most important thing you want them to really know. They will pass the light around the circle as each one speaks, if they don’t want to share they simply pass the candle to the next person. (I needed Kleenex before this was finished)
8:15 We finished with our youth praise band playing a few worship songs as youth found their parents and stood by them as we shared in worship together. Finish the night in whatever way you usually finish youth, we circled up and did the UMYF benediction.
8:30 goodnight! If you have a small youth group the night might move a little quicker than is scheduled here.