I’ve realised several important things in my life so far. Salt and sugar should never be confused when baking cookies, exercise really is good for you and I’m not a PK (pastor’s kid).
. . . often, unintentionally, we forget about the kids . . . We don’t realise we expect things of them that we wouldn’t from kids with parents who have a different career.
This may come as a shock for those who know me. After all, my dad’s a pastor, so how is this possible?
Let me explain: I’ve experienced resentment, hurt, acceptance, unrealistic expectations, kindness and pride in belonging to my Church. But if there’s one thing all these conflicting emotions have taught me, it’s this: I’m not a PK. I’m a girl whose dad just happens to be a pastor.
He could have been an accountant, a pilot, a nurse or a mechanic. But he’s not. He’s a pastor. Unfortunately, that often comes with baggage—more judgement, less affirmation. When was the last time you heard, “Did you hear what the engineer’s son did?” or “Did you see what the lawyer’s daughter was wearing?”
Take my personal favourite—“You’re a pastor’s kid, so you should really start behaving like one”—and substitute any career of choice in there. Doesn’t really have the same ring to it, does it? How, exactly, are astronauts’ kids supposed to behave?
Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing ministerial families appreciated. High value is placed on them through inspirational, support-building events such as ministers’ meetings and pastors’ retreats.
At a recent camp meeting, I took photos for a morning tea especially for Partners in Ministry. To hear the encouraging words exchanged between spouses and to see them all draw strength from each other was something beautiful. It’s vitally important for pastors and their spouses to feel affirmed—in fact, it’s important for all human beings.
But often, unintentionally, we forget about the kids. We forget that they didn’t choose the ministry lifestyle or ask for it. We don’t realise we expect things of them that we wouldn’t from kids with parents who have a different career. We give them a label—PK. And I say “we” because I, too, have both judged, and been judged.
So to all those kids whose parent just so happens to be a pastor: the ones who wait patiently for Mum or Dad to come home at night, only to find they’ve been delayed—again; the ones who have unrealistic expectations placed on them; or who fight to live up to those expectations—and fall short; the ones who don’t even bother—and have nasty words whispered behind their backs; the ones who have moved more times than they can remember; the ones who rebel; the ones who leave.
I know it’s hard. Believe me—I’ve been there.
But please know this: You are more than just the PK label. You matter. Whether you’ve left the Church or whether you’re an active member; whether you’ve been incredibly wounded or whether you’ve never felt pressure from anybody; whether you’ve never heard praise or whether you’ve been affirmed all your life, I want to uplift you. You are incredibly valuable. You are special. Your ministry is just as important. To quote King David, you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). And all around the world, there are kids who truly understand and are praying for you.
Kids—just like you—whose parent happens to be a pastor.
Maritza Brunt is assistant editor for Adventist Record.