Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church
Often times when I leave the office I load my backpack with books just in case I will need them at home. However, the more I have to carry a heavy load the more difficult it is to think about anything else besides when I can set my bag down.
What’s true about carrying heavy backpacks is true about letting disturbing comments made by students dwell in your mind. Have you ever had a student say something in your group that made you feel uneasy? Did you have the thought that maybe you should tell someone, but didn’t? As a result, how many times did those comments loop in your brain making you feel concerned?
Disturbing comments made by your D-Group students bug you because you care about them. You want what is best and are bothered if they divulge details that cause them to experience anything less. So, what do you do?
When a group leader asks me what they should do in response to a bothersome comment made by their student the first thing I ask is: “If you were the parent of this student, would you want to know this piece of information?” The answer is rarely “no.” Think about it. If you want to help this student, wouldn’t the best thing to do is give their most influential person details they could use to help them? If your response is, “Well, their parents have more issues than their own child!” It doesn’t matter. You are not the protector of this child. You are their D-Group leader and not responsible for their upbringing. Their parents are.
Now I realize some information needs to be spoken directly to Shepherd Youth staff for legal reasons (see volunteer handbook for details), but issues of non-abuse can be directly stated to the parents.
Telling parents about disturbing things their child is saying relieves you from playing “Savior.” It reminds you that you have your own kids to raise and releases the disturbing looping thought in your mind.
Benefits of informing parents of their child’s disturbing comments:
- Allows the parent to know the issues their child is having and to get the appropriate help.
- Allows the parents to stop things that are causing the problem in their child’s life.
- Creates trust between you and the parent and reassures them you will come to them with future issues.
- Relieves you from having to worry about an issue you have no control over.
- It is wise.