Four Things I Need To Remember About Dealing With Angry, Manipulative Parents


Last night was a trying evening for me. Most of the parents we serve a awesome, grateful and accommodating… but the mom I dealt with last night was none of those. I don’t know what got to me most… her behavior or the way I responded to it.

In a nutshell, she had three children. One was nursery age. The Nursery was full so she tried to sneak her newly-turned three year old into an older class without checking in. I stepped in and corrected the situation. Mom was angry and started talking trash.

Here are some things I learned that will help me deal with this type of person in the future.

1. You can’t reason with them.

They know what they want. They want to be rid of their child. This type of person wouldn’t care if they were dropping their child off at a homeless shelter… they just want what they want. Don’t waste your time trying to appease them if you can’t give them what they want. Just like a troll on a forum, it just gives them more of a platform to spew anger.

2. Trust your policies and procedures.

These folks will lie… they will tell you their way had been done before… that everything was fine last time… that you told them such-in-such. Though you’ll want to believe them… trust your people. Trust that they followed the policies and procedures until you’ve spoken to them and learned otherwise. Do not assume your volunteers have disregarded everything you’ve taught them just because one person says differently.

3. You can’t serve everyone.

I have a huge heart for people. I hate it when I’m put in the place of looking like a bad guy… but that’s not my role unless someone is behaving in a way that forces me to squash that behavior. My ministry has the potential of being a great resource and help to families… but if someone is unwilling to follow simple, basic policies… they are rejecting all of that. The part that kills me is that they don’t even know what they’re missing. I understand that people have issues… but Children’s ministry functions within a set of rules. Those rules are not just for fun… they’re for the protection of the folks we’re ministering to… and those who are ministering. When we have someone who can’t do the basics of following procedure… well, there are plenty of churches out there who have more heart than sense… they can go to church there.

4. Did they have a point?

After all of the drama and bad behavior I still need to ask myself… Did they have a point? Was there something we missed? If I don’t ask that question and attempt to answer it seriously, I risk being a ministry who believes they have ‘arrived’. We always have room to grow and improve. In this case I realized that if we’d simply had enough workers in the Nursery, there would have been no issue at all. I understand at least part of the frustration my parent felt.

What would you add to this list? Share you insights in the comments.

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