It’s a Saturday morning and my husband has gone to work. The little one, afraid she’s gonna miss something, ran into the room and curled up in bed with me. Wasn’t too much longer that she’s back to sleep. Looking at her, I want to protect her from everything that can even try to harm her intentionally or even unintentionally. Times are changing, Jason is starting to preach and we are delving further into our own service to God. This means that we can’t always go to Jungle Java, or the park or spend uninterrupted family time together. Does this prove an intentional hurt to our daughter?
As parents in the ministry, my husband and I remain vigilant to balancing home life, work life and ministry life. So much of our time is spent away from the home that oftentimes we are happy that our daughter is able to adapt to our busy schedule. But as she grows from toddler into a real life kid, I worry that she will regret the times that we can’t go to the park or some other activity because Mommy and Daddy are busy. It’s a battle that we fight and sometimes we win; sometimes we don’t.
I also worry about the perceptions of being a PK (or in Syd and her cousin’s case, a PGK; Preacher’s Grand Kid). So many times people see all of the things that she has done wrong and seem excited to punish her for it. It’s almost as if they don’t remember that just because these children are children of a minister that doesn’t mean that they aren’t real-life kids that make real-life mistakes.
Thankfully, I have friends who are also PK’s to give me advice on keeping our daughter balanced, but I also found an article on Just Between Us, a website dedicated to help/equip women who are in ministry, that provided true advice on keeping this coveted balance. The message provided from the article is simple: remember that your kids are real kids with real feelings and fears.
Here’s the main gist from the article:
1. Maintain a healthy balance between ministry and family.
“The most negative thing parents can do is neglect their children for the sake of ministry,” one student wrote. “Family has to be the number one priority. Neglecting family will drive children away from the Lord and ministry – the things that children see as taking their parents away.
2. Relate to children as a parent, not as a preacher or minister.
“Let your children know that they are not responsible for their father’s success in his work,” another student wrote. “Let your children know that they are important to you because you love them.” The student went on to recommend encouraging children to express their emotions and parents to listen to them with respect.
3. Spend time with your children.
“The most important advice I can offer a minister or any other parent is to make time for their children,” a student wrote. “Listen to them and talk about what they want to talk about. Take interest in their lives.”
4. Pray for your children.
“Pray for your kids daily. Make prayer a vital part of family life,” a student wrote. “Parents need to teach their children how to pray.”
5. Don’t assume that your children will adapt to new situations.
“They’re exposed to a lot and absorb many unhealthy things without you knowing,” a student wrote. Another added, “Do not assume kids will automatically develop good Christian morals and values merely because Dad is in the ministry.” Other responses included consistency between what parents preached and how they lived and the need for direct moral instruction.
6. Protect them from people in the congregation who might hurt them.
“Defend, protect their children from the congregation’s criticism,” a student wrote. In another response, there was underlying anger and unresolved issues in a PK who still remembered “with sadness” how her mother did nothing while a deacon scolded her little brother.
7. Keep the communication lines open and be vigilant.
One student confessed that the son of a deacon molested her regularly and she never said anything because she didn’t think anyone would believe her.
8. Don’t single them out as different from other children in the church.
Responses included advice to avoid saying, “You must behave this way or that because you are the pastor’s child.” Another student wrote, “I hate being put up on a pedestal. I wish my parents would have let me talk through my feelings about those situations, but in my house feelings were not discussed.” She added expectations of perfection are placed on them and that their parents can help by “allowing their children to be normal children who sometimes get into trouble.”
9. Love them.
“The most positive things a parent can do,” one student wrote, “are to love their children unconditionally, involve them in ministry, encourage their spiritual growth, demonstrate a vibrant relationship with the Lord, and teach them to love people as Christ does.”
Another piece of advice involved setting up a support group where ministry kids can talk with other ministry kids their age about “the unique stress they experience as ministry kids.” “Part of what has brought healing in my life has been the experience of sharing with other PKs who have watched churches split and parents lose their jobs as ministers,” one student wrote.
Are you a PK or parenting a PK? Share your thoughts and comments!