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Responding to the Hyper-Feedback Parent

If you’ve never had a hyper-feedback parent involved in your youth ministry, you’re missing out. I mean that in both a sincere and sarcastic way. Sarcastically, these parents are a thorn in the flesh, the cause of ulcers, and deepen your prayer life in all the wrong ways. Sincerely, hyper-feedback parents can sharpen the ministry, push you to grow, and provide numerous opportunities to practice humility, courage and love.

The Typical Feedback

Feedback comes in three main forms and to remember them, just think of ACE.

  • Appreciation
  • Coaching
  • Evaluation

Now, hyper-feedback parents rarely deal you a high level of gratitude and appreciation. Therefore, you can expect that they are interested in coaching and evaluating you in all of their feedback conversations. What that means for you, is that their goal is probably either letting you know how you might improve (coaching) or where you stand in your relationship with them (evaluation).

Define Your Goal

Now that you know the goal of the hyper-feedback parent’s comments, you have to decide what your goal is going to be. I’ve shared before about how Jesus responded to his critics and that we’re a work in progress. So you have an option on where you want these feedback conversations to head.

  • Is your goal to disciple teens and their parents?
  • Is your goal to protect yourself?
  • Is your goal to grow?
  • Is your goal to silence critics?

No one can decide for you. You’re the pastor to these parents. You have to decide what you want out of these relationships.

Getting to the Goal

If your goal is to grow, for both you and the parent, then you have to take the feedback conversations to their end. That means to move beyond one sided rants, eye rolling, silent rage, and pithy comebacks. You have to humbly receive the feedback and ask for more.

Here are three responses:

  1. Recognize – You need for them to acknowledge that you hear they are giving you coaching or evaluation and that they do it on a regular basis. This opens them up to hearing you.
  2. Expectations – Ask them what they want to come from this particular critique. If it is coaching, how are you supposed to improve? If it is evaluation, what are the implications for your relationship with them and their child? They need to articulate their expectations.
  3. Hope – Express your hope and ask for their hope for your relationship. This allows you to express your goal in a humble way and you get to hear what’s important to them too. You may find that you don’t agree, but at least you’ve come to an understanding and a new place in your relationship in order to grow.

What have you learned in relating to hyper-feedback parents? What other responses get you to the goal of growth with these parents?

paulsheneman_image_medThis is a guest post by Paul Sheneman who is an author, speaker and youth pastor, with over 15 years of youth ministry experience. He currently serves as the Methodist youth pastor in Macedonia, OH. He drinks way too much coffee for his own good and enjoys a good book. You can follow his ramblings at or on Twitter @PaulSheneman.

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