How to Deal with an Angry Parent
It is going to happen. You’re going to have to deal with an angry parent. You’re going to get an email detailing all your shortcomings. You’re going to be confronted after a service and told how badly you handled a situation or how unfair you were to their child. If it hasn’t happened yet, it will.
Here are four steps for dealing with an angry parent.
The temptation is to match the emotional intensity of the person angry with us. But that won’t be productive, and it will do damage to your relationship. Instead, take a deep breath and stay calm.
Listen carefully to what triggered their anger. Ask clarifying questions. Repeat back what you heard them say and confirm that you understand the situation correctly. Look at it from their perspective before giving your own.
Own up to whatever you can. If you were in the wrong, admit it quickly and ask their forgiveness. If you weren’t in the wrong, consider if there is anything you could have done better – then apologize for that. I’m not suggesting you allow yourself to be bullied into taking the blame for something you didn’t do. I am suggesting, though, that you humbly consider the merit of their criticism before getting defensive.
Seek out a Resolution
What steps can you take towards a resolution? This, of course, will depend on the situation. It may be that you simply need to thank the parent for bringing it to your attention. It may be that there are changes to be made in your communication or even in your ministry. If so, be clear as to what the steps are and how you will go about taking them.
Dealing with an angry parent is difficult. It can leave us feeling defeated and discouraged. But don’t let it get you down. That would be as unproductive as getting defensive. Instead, let these situations serve as an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus and to become more of who He wants us to be.