When Parents Want Advice

As a youth leader, parents will come to you on occasion for advice, especially when there are family struggles or their children aren’t communicating with them. It seems ridiculous, because instinctively we think “Why the heck are you asking me? I’m not a parent!” And while we cannot (and shouldn’t) make decisions for them, there are some principles that we can always fall back on to encourage and equip parents with – you do have something to offer.

Credit where credit is due: these principles are all drawn from the book “Parenting Beyond Your Capacity” by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof who both are part of the Think Orange strategy.


  1. Widen The Circle
    Pursue strategic relationships for your kids – this is all about having other trusted adults in the lives of their kids (ideally) before they need them.
    Who is in the circle of your child? How can you widen the circle?
  2. Imagine The End
    Focus your priorities on what matters most – what parents  give or do for their kids is not as important as what they leave in them, the character.
    What character trait would you like to grow in your child?
  3. Fight For The Heart
    Communicate in a style that gives the relationship value – there is a world of difference between fighting with your child and fighting for your child.
    What can you do so that arguments become conversations?
  4. Create a Rhythm
    Increase the quantity of quality time you spend together – the rhythm in the home silently but significantly communicates values, it’s about being intentional.
    Do you have regular quality family time in your week?
  5. Make It Personal
    Put yourself first when it comes to personal growth – the parent has to be authentic about their own faith and struggles with their kids.
    Have you ever told your kids about how you met God, or struggled with …?

BONUS ADVICE that kind of ties into them all: even when kids pull away, encourage parents to keep stepping forward, even as the temptation arises to pull back too.

You don’t need to go through them one by one or even explain them, but they are great to internalise and have on hand to help encourage and equip parents. I might say something like: “Well I’m not a parent, but leading youth for a while has taught me that (5) youth really value when you share your own story and struggles, you know, make it personal. Have you ever done that?”

More info from the book can be found at: http://vialogue.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/parenting-beyond-your-capacity-notes-review/

What is the best piece of advice you have given to a parent?

A printable version of this article can be found here: When Parents Want Advice

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About Gavin Brown

I am a Youth Pastor working with students in Alice Springs, the heart of Australia. I have a passion for discipleship, equipping people to discover, live out, and multiply their faith every day, while simultaneously attempting to navigate the unique subculture of being a nerd that loves extreme sports.

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