Monday, February 11, 2008

    Community Builder: The Parent Trap

    Involving parents directly in youth ministry activities can often be a challenge--either they don't feel comfortable hanging out with the youth or the teens aren't comfortable with their parents "invading" their sanctum sanctorum. But once in a while, it's a good idea to bring both groups together to create some community, to allow parents to connect with one another, and provide an opportunity for families to do some bonding in a church setting. We spend so much time taking their kids away from them -- off on trips, retreats, lock-ins, etc. -- that it's only fair to ocassionally bring them together! One way to do this is with a "Parent Trap" event in which parents and youth are challenged to discover how much they know about each other (in the style of the the old "Newlyweds" tv game show). Separate parents and youth and have them each write down their answers to a series of personal questions. The lists for parents and youth will be a little different. For example:
    • Where did you go to high school?
    • What was the first car you ever owned?
    • Name one TV show that was popular when you were young.
    • Name one of your favorite foods.
    • If you were alone on a desert island, what kind of reading material would you want to have with you?
    • What is one of your favorite movies?
    • Name a musical group/singer you really like?
    • What is your favorite/worst subject in school?
    • Who is your favorite teacher?
    • What is your favorite place to get fast food?
    Once answers are written down, bring everyone back together and team up the parents and youth. Go through each question for the parents, first challenging youth to see if they can guess their parents' answers. Next, go through the questions for the students, seeing how many correct answers the parents can guess about their own kids. Prizes for winning teams could include passes for the family to go to the movies together or a board game to enjoy together at home. And, of course, you can adapt this event to fit your particular make-up of families. Rather than just telling youth to bring a parent(s) to the event, suggest they could also pick a grandparent, aunt, uncle, coach, or other significant adult in their lives.