When parents ground their kids from youth group

I love it that a lot of the content generated here at Life in Student Ministry is based on my interaction with you guys (or “ya’ll,” depending on where you’re from!). If you have questions or ideas for me, please contact me at any time.

One question that’s popped up several times lately is what to do when parents use church as a form of punishment and ground their kids from youth group activities. GiGi Logan, the Children’s and Youth Ministry Director at All Saint’s Episcopal Church in North Carolina, writes in an email, “…parents don’t realize that they’re teaching their kids that church is like a cell phone, TV, etc. and that’s SO NOT COOL!”

Honestly, I don’t really have a lot of advice on this subject, so I’m hoping many of you will pool your wisdom in the comments below. I’ll just make a couple observations:

1. While I’m excited that a teenager enjoys youth group enough for the parents to see it as a significant loss for their child, it’s still exactly that — a significant loss. Kids are not usually grounded from going to school because it’s both a privilege and a responsibility. Church is no different. In fact, maybe if a parent is having trouble with their kid at home they should send him or her to more church, not less. (As long as that’s not perceived as cruel punishment to the opposite extreme! lol!)

2. I’m against using church as punishment not because I’m the youth pastor and youth group happens to be “my baby.” I’m against it because the church is instituted by God and every student here is part of the body.

3. My dad is a pastor and despite my parents’ stance on enforcing church attendance over anything else, there was a time during my early teen years when they grounded me to my room for an entire month, including no church. In that case, it communicated that my punishment was a HUGE deal.

What do YOU do when a youth group student is grounded from church? Your advice on the matter is greatly appreciated.

Posted on February 19, 2008

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