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.