Tag Archives: PK

Preacher’s Kids Have Issues

Charity M. Walker-Byers wrote an article titled, “How to Help a Preacher’s Kid” (ChristianStandard). After talking to numerous ministry kids, the following emerged as their biggest issues:

“I don’t measure up to what’s expected of me.” Most preacher’s kids feel pressure to meet a very high standard and have concluded they will never achieve it. The assumption is that their parents are unbelievably holy. PKs are acutely aware of their own imperfections and often become discouraged and suffer from an internalized sense of low self-esteem.

“I’m not sure it’s real.” The children of ministry families often struggle to find their own faith. They know their parents’ faith is real, but are often afraid to voice their doubts and uncertainty about the reality of God. These unspoken doubts are driven inward, and consequently are rarely explored and understood. Doubting PKs struggle with their identities, fearing they aren’t really believers.

“I don’t fit in.” Acceptance is a primary issue for any child or adolescent, yet it is often more acute for PKs. They desire to fit into their family and their peer group, but often believe the two are incompatible. They try desperately to be fully accepted at school and in the family, but often feel they aren’t accepted in either setting.

“I think God is disappointed in me.” Guilt and shame plague many preacher’s kids. They have a strong performance base to their self-understanding and haven’t learned grace personally. They assume their misbehavior, sin, or shortcomings put a frown on God’s face. Insecurity sneaks into their lives, and they assign way too many human characteristics to God and suffer for it.

“I don’t think my parents care as much about me as they do the church.” Children of ministry parents often feel neglected, whether neglect is taking place or not. They see their parents extending themselves for others and believe others to be more important and more deserving of attention. A lot of assumptions are internalized, and the child feels insignificant.

Visit the article to learn more about “How to Help a Preacher’s Kid.”

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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.