Nobody said this job was easy but you probably never imagined that you’d ever be confronted by an angry parent but it happens. (That’s no slam to parents. Raising kids today is tough–unbelievably so.) But that doesn’t make the experience any less stressful/embarrassing/emotional. Maybe you’ve never had this happen to you but in the course of time it might. In fact, it’s happened to me! You’d be amazed at how many folks get upset about a missed treat or a perceived slight of some sort. So what do you do when you’re confronted with an angry parent?
First bit of advice is to be proactive–not reactive. The first thing you want to do when faced with someone who is angry with you is defend yourself, right? However, before you can explain or defend yourself, you’ll need to diffuse, listen and then address the problem. Here’s what I mean.
Step One: Diffuse
You’d never think a parent would lose their patience in front of the kids but it happens. As the children’s pastor, it’s up to you to determine the atmosphere. Ask the parent to step into another room or walk outside with you. If you fear for your safety, it’s always best to bring another teacher with you. Avoid raising your voice–that can make things worse. Do your best to show that you’re interested in solving the problem.
Step Two: Listen
If a parent demonstrates anger, he or she probably feels frustrated and protective. Start the conversation but letting the parent know you’re listening. Say, “I understand that you’re angry and I am listening. Talk to me.” Allow the parent to vent/talk without any input from you. (It’s hard, I know.) conversation going by letting her know that you want to hear more about the real issue.
Step Three: Solve the Problem
Now is the time to offer solutions and address any issues that need your attention. Here’s where you get to explain your motives and correct any wrong perceptions. Every situation will call for different solutions–unfortunately there is no one size fits all here.
Don’t allow anyone to bully you but don’t shut your self off from criticism. No one is perfect. If you made a mistake own up to it, if you didn’t, be gracious. Remember that it isn’t just the child that needs you. Sometimes parents do too.
Read more from Mimi by following her blog at Tools for Kids Church.
- Six Pointers for Parent Communication
- Lessons on Leadership from an Upset Parent
- Benefits of Hindsight in Children’s Ministry Leadership