Expectations of a Preacher’s Kid

Growing up a preacher’s kid (PK), there was an unimaginable amount of expectation placed on me. Ministers often feel pressure to lead perfect lives and that translates to the rest of their family. We must be the perfect family and maintain the perfect image. Passed down through the generations, my family  adopted the unwritten pattern that overcoming Christians are never angry, never depressed, never sick, never upset with a spouse or child – always happy.

As a PK, you live in a glass bubble. The entire congregations eyes are upon you at all times. Some in the congregation had a bad habit of forgetting that children aren’t perfect, including the preacher’s kids. Many congregation members absolved their guilt about their children’s behavior by pointing out the flaws they saw in us, the PKs.

I distinctly remember an incident where I overheard a conversation between two adults of the congregation. They were discussing my brother. The two pious men felt that my parents didn’t know how to discipline a child, how to raise my brother, and were failures on all fronts.  They wondered why my brother was always getting into mischief (according to them dire wrongdoings) and how this reflected on my parents. A stinging point was they felt they could do it better – that my brother would become a convict if he wasn’t straightened out. First, let me tell you that my brother was not in any way, shape, or form, in the makings of a convict or heathen. He was a typical, rambunctious, young boy enjoying life.

Second, I took that conversation and absorbed it into my guilty conscience. I became the protector of my family. I was the good child. The “perfect” child. The one who would do no wrong so as not to embarrass my parents or make them look bad. I wanted to prove those men and the world wrong. I lived in silence, carrying the weight of our family’s image on my shoulders. Unfair, you might think. Unjust, you might cry. And you’re right. But it’s the sad way of the world when it comes to the stereotype of preacher’s kids.




4 responses to “Expectations of a Preacher’s Kid

  • Chris Appleby

    As a PK myself, I can identify with this article. I certainly did live in a glass bubble to the point where what I wore to church each Sunday was duly documented in one little old lady’s journal! I, however, was not the perfect child; I was the troublemaker, the rebel. I can just imagine the journal entry for the Sunday in 1967 when I showed up in church wearing a long dynel fall, all the rage in fashion, but I doubt it went down well with the congregation. Actually, I spent my teenage years just wanting to be considered “normal,” whatever that really is. You see, there are actually two stereotypes of the PK, the perfect child & the hell raiser. Different people tried to pigeonhole into one or the other of these. I’ll never forget the day my junior year in college when a friend told me with surprise that I was normal just like everybody else. That’s all I ever wanted. Amen!

    • Kat

      Wow! I can’t believe someone actually wrote things like that in a journal! How did you find out about the journal? That’s the epitome of judgment and very sad that she had no other joy in life. I agree with the two stereotypes mentioned. I think PKs become “hell raisers” just to try and break the perfection image. I’ve always heard that PKs are “the worst.” 🙂 All I ever wanted, too, was to be loved for who I was and am and not what someone expected me to be. Thank you for your thoughts and I’m happy that you are “normal” just like everyone else. 🙂

      • Chris Appleby

        Actually she was a very sweet little old lady who was one of my grandmother’s best friends. I found out about the journal from my dad. Somehow he learned of it on one of his pastoral visits to Stella. He joked that he wanted her to leave it to the church in her will because it contained so much information about congregation.

      • Kat

        It would be entertaining to read! I can only imagine what would be in it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: