I don't know that my family was the typical preacher's family. At least I don't want to think it is so. I realize that preachers and their wives are human and make mistakes.
Our home was not a place of love. It was not a soft place to land. It was a facade. We were expected to obey. To put up a good front for those in the congregation. We also traveled to another church and did the music ministry. So many people looked up to my parents. My sister and I knew what others saw wasn't what we saw behind closed doors. I think this is why my sister and I rebelled and suffered in our own lives. Thankfully, I found the Lord on my own. My sister has not.
My mother ruled our home. Whatever she said needed to be done was done. My father never questioned her. Even when what she was doing was wrong. He never stood up to her. Discipline wasn't done correctly in our home. What we suffered at the hands of our parents was undoubtedly abuse. I am quite convinced that my mother suffered from mental illness. At least I hope that was it. The one person that should have stood between her and my sister and I, failed us miserably.
I have struggled with being a good parent myself. It is hard to be a good parent when it has not been modeled for you. God has modeled good parenting for me right in the Bible and I am learning from His example. It would have been so much easier if it had been modeled by my parents.
May I humbly offer some advice as a Preacher's Kid to those in ministry.
- Ask God to help you be a good parent. Know that God has given you your children as your primary ministry. That means that sometime church work will go undone in order to spend time with your kids.
- Hug your child. Tell them you love them and are proud of them. Hug them again.
- Admit your mistakes to your children and others. Tell them the stupid bonehead things you did in your life and how God helped you overcome it. You are not perfect. You are not fooling anyone by pretending to be. If you don't, it could have devastating consequences. Kids think that God will not love them or forgive them because YOU never did anything stupid like they did. They will respect you for being honest and human.
- Be the same at home and in public. Be careful you aren't putting on a "mask" when you leave the house (I'm struggling with this one).
- Realize that it puts a lot of pressure on a kid to be the one everyone looks at all the time as the example. Many are rooting for them to fail. Talk to them about this pressure.
- When you kids mess up (oh, and they will by the way), let them know they are still loved and precious.
I guess that is good advice for any parent, but please understand that PK's grow up under the microscope of a congregation and problems are magnified many times over. We feel the pressure to live up to a standard whether it is told to us or not. Satan also takes a special pleasure in messing with PK's. I feel a special empathy for PK's. Many rebel because they can't live up to the pressure. Some rebel because they see the different "masks" as hypocrisy.
I hope this gives you a little insight into the life of a PK. Pray for your pastor's kids. Pray for your pastor and his wife. If you are a preacher, make sure your kid isn't the one to write a blog on the problems of being a PK.