Seven Things Pastors Would Like Church Members to Know about Their Children

PKs

I love my sons who are now all adults, and in at least one parish I paid a price for putting them first. That being said, I never missed a single meeting for Church business. Remember, sometimes everything isn’t enough for some people. As an Orthodox priest, you will have to be there for your own kids. If you’re not, who will be? I was a husband and father before I was a priest, and that is a part of who I am and what makes me effective as a priest. This article by Thom Rainer is worth the time. – Fr. John

by Thom Rainer

I was serving a church in St. Petersburg, Florida, when it hit me hard. One of my young children had playfully fallen on the floor in the foyer after a worship service. A deacon in the church came up to me and spoke forcefully:

“You need to tell your kid to get up. Pastors’ children aren’t supposed to act that way.”

My internal emotional reaction was carnal. I’m just glad I held my tongue. I was really mad. I can still remember my thoughts:

“How dare this man hold my young son to a standard different than other kids! My boy really didn’t cause any harm. He was just being playful.”

I recently conducted a Twitter poll of pastors and their spouses about this very issue. Though the poll was informal and not scientific, the responses were nevertheless fascinating. Here are the top seven responses in order of frequency. A representative comment or combined comments are given with each of the seven.

  1. Don’t expect more out of pastors’ kids (PKs) than any other kids. “My children need to have the same expectations as the other children in the church. They are not some kind of spiritual superstars because their dad’s a pastor.”
  2. Please offer encouragement to my children. “It’s not always easy to be a PK. The glass house thing is real. I am so thankful for the church members who go out of their way to encourage my children.”
  3. Realize that they are kids. “I know a few church members who seem to think my kids are miniature adults. They expect them to act like a 40 year old instead of a 4 year old.”
  4. Please don’t call them “PKs.” “Their identities should not be based on their father’s vocation. They have their own unique and special identities.”
  5. Please pray for my children. “I am blessed to have this one lady in my church who prays for my three children every day. She knows the special challenges of being a PK.”
  6. Our kids see and hear more than you may think. “After one particularly tough church business meeting, my seven-year-old boy asked me if I was going to get fired.”
  7. Don’t make me choose between my kids and the church. “Too many PKs have grown up bitter and disillusioned about the church. Dad gave more attention to church members than his own children.”

What do you think about these seven challenges? What would you add? What have your experiences been?

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  2. I so can relate. as I grew up a PK in a Evangelical Protestantism and my mom was the pastor. I felt Like I had to be perfect and I can tell you it is not a burden i wish on anyone. sometimes I wish i wasn’t a pastor’s kid because of the pedestal that I and my sister were placed on. As a result of my childhood I am having to over come spiritual and emotional abuse and I am so thankful that God is helping me through and that I have found Orthodoxy. thank you for this article!

    • Julia, thank you for the sacrifices you made. You endured alot, too much, and now you can offer help and healing to others too. Do let us know how we can help you out!

  3. I’d like to add
    1) This is for older PKs, not to approach them and discuss thing pertaining to their father either as a means of getting access to him or to try and influence him. I have many PK friends and they cringe in horror everytime a random congregant comes up to the to try to get to their father.

    2) Not to indulge or spoil the PK because of who their father is or to try to curry favor with them. When I taught Sunday School, I had our priest’s son in the class, about 10 yrs old at the time, and when I was reprimanding him for misbehaving he try to pull the “do you know who my father is” card on me apparently because it worked for him in the past. So like the point of the article treat them like anyother child in the congregation.