What To Do When Parents Show Up Late for Pick up

We've all been there. The children's event or class ended an hour ago and you're still waiting on a parent to pick up their child. With each passing moment, you begin to feel more like a babysitter than a minister. Here's some do's and don'ts when you're stuck watching the clock.

  • Do put the child at ease. Many times the child will become anxious or worried. Keep things lighthearted. Laugh. Have fun while you're waiting.
  • Do use the time to invest in your friendship with the child.
  • Do give the child something they can do to pass the time. A game, a book, a coloring sheet, or even helping you clean up.
  • Do be compassionate instead of condescending when reminding the parent about the pick up time.
  • Do ask if there is anything you can do to be of assistance. If there are family issues going on, this may open the door to minister to them.
  • Do clearly communicate drop off and pick up times in writing. 
  • Do partner with adult ministries. Ask leaders of adult classes to encourage parents to pick up their children on time. If parents want to stay and fellowship, ask leaders to encourage them to go pick up their child and then come back to talk.
  • Do ask each parent where they will be when they drop their child off.
  • Do have parent's cell phone numbers on file so you can call them if needed.

  • Don't wait alone. Always have someone wait with you. Never be alone with the child.
  • Don't blame the child. It's not the child's fault.
  • Don't give the parent a mean look when they finally show up (even if you feel like it).
  • Don't talk to the parent about being late in front of the child. 
  • Don't jump to conclusions. Not every parent is using you as a free babysitter while they "fellowship" after class with their friends. There may be a legitimate reason why they are late.
  • Don't throw the rule book at the parent if it's the first time they have been late.

Posted by Dale Hudson