I’ve always wondered how our calling and career choice affected our children. Since our girls are grown and married with children of their own, I decided to ask them. What follows is one response:
I feel when you ask the question, ‘What is it like to grow up a pastor’s kid?’ you get one of two answers: “I love it!” or “I hate it!” There’s usually not much middle ground. For me, I definitely fall on the “love it” side of things. Were there struggles? Of course! But that’s no different than any other childhood. One of the most common complaints of PKs is that we grew up in a fish bowl. This is most definitely true! The whole “wear-a-dress-every-time-you-go-to-church thing” wasn’t necessarily my parents’ conviction. I don’t really think that they cared much what we wore (within reason, of course) but you just know there were some older folks who cared, so dresses it was.
But there were also a lot of positives, and most of those are positives because my parents were intentional about my sister and I having a good childhood. When we were really little, we lived in the parsonage, so we were super close to the church. We got to ride our bikes in the church basement on rainy days. We got to test out the baptismal in our swimsuits before the service the next night. I practiced my piano in the sanctuary and pretended I was a big shot playing for a whole bunch of people. (Although it’s worth noting that I quit piano lessons after only a few years. My performance dreams didn’t go much past two-part harmonies at most).
I’m a mom now and my husband and I think about how our parenting choices affect our kids. Our jobs are a big part of that, but so are the positions we hold in our church. Are our kids looked at more closely because my husband is a deacon? Are they held to a different standard because I teach in our children’s ministry? I don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not in the back of our minds.
So anyway, as a PK who came out on the other side still loving Jesus and wanting to serve His people, I’m here to tell you not to get discouraged. Love your kids how you know they need to be loved. Even though you have (many, many) extra responsibilities at church that can become a burden, show them what it means to serve with a happy heart. Even though you deal with more difficult people every week than most people do in six months, show your kids what it means to live at peace with everyone as much as it depends on you. Even if it doesn’t seem like it in the moment, those things stick with us and influence the choices we make as adults.
All I can say is thank you, Lord.