Being the Preacher’s Kid

Kari is a preacher’s daughter.

It’s not an easy life, she says.

She writes one of the most emotional pieces I’ve ever read on this issue.

Give it a read. I promise you won’t stop until you’ve made it all the way through:

The thing that makes me most upset about being a preacher’s kid — “PK” as we’re often called — is that no one really understands our specific experience, nor the specific pressures that come with it. In society, we’re typically stereotyped. Made fun of. Looked up to yet resented at the same time. It never really occurs to people to ask us who we are. And it never occurs to people that many of us are in pain. And are terrified to talk about it.

So what’s the problem with being a preacher’s kid?

… Truly though, you amaze yourself at your ability to play the part of the-absolutely-perfect-Christian: even though you’ve never had room to consider whether you believe it or not. Your range, the control you develop, is positively superhuman. It gives you something you can control, something you can be proud of, at least. After awhile, it almost entertains you. You think, “Gee. If I can play the part so well, I wonder if my minister parent is, too. I wonder if everyone is. Is all we’re praying to even real?”

But you don’t say that. You don’t say that…

It’s amazing what she — and others in her position — have to put up with, though:

You learn to be secretive about any and all of your parents’ faults, especially your own: because kids have more. You ache to join in with the other kids’ antics, the other kids’ play, but the adults in the congregation are watching you: your perfect behavior is the full measure of your preacher parents’ suitability for ministry. Not that the other kids want to hang around you anyway. They begrudingly do, but secretly they resent you. For you are the moral prodigy their parents always hold over their heads. Oh yes: you are resented. The kids live to break you. They poke you, prod you, steal from you, mercilessly tease you, touch you. “How much can they take?” the kids will wail. You are the wonder, the science experiment they can’t crack. And they hate you for it all the more…

It’s really an astounding monologue. And if you’re curious, Kari is no longer religious.

Kari is asking ministers to sign a pledge that she believes will fix these problems.

Here’s hoping she gets support from preachers who have kids of their own.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian, church, children[/tags]

  • mike

    The thing that makes me most upset about being a preacher’s kid-”PK” as we’re often called-is that no one really understands our specific experience, nor the specific pressures that come with it. In society, we’re typically stereotyped. Made fun of. Looked up to yet resented at the same time.

    Umm… I am a PK and I still don’t understand the experience she describes. At no point in my upbringing did I feel pressure, stereotyped, made fun of, or resented. I experienced absolutely no stigma from friends, no unreasonable moralistic expectations, no extra community scrutiny. I never imagined that my parents’ love was conditional. “PK” hardly registers as a significant/defining part of my identity.

    Maybe I got lucky. Or maybe it’s because ours was a small church in a liberal denomination. I can easily imagine that in a fundie mega-church where the pastor is the semi-infallible sharer of Absolute Truth and the congregants are competing to (appear to) be the holiest, things might be worse.

    i wonder whether Kari’s dialog is really representative of the wider PK experience. I honestly can’t relate to any of it. If it is representative, then what an absolutely tragic casualty of religion — PK-dom is clearly a source of deep emotional trauma and pain for her.

  • http://bellesouth.blogspot.com Bellesouth

    I am a PK and a confirmed atheist – on both sides (mom and dad were ministers – YAY!) and I know exactly what she experiences. We are placed on a higher level and not really seen as humans. Teachers would look at me to recite Bible quotes. I didn’t read the Bible just because my parents were trained in theology.

    Peers at school assumed I was either a goody-goody or the bad seed just because of who my parents were. It wasn’t my choice to have parents who felt called to the ministry.

    It’s a very isolating experience.

  • http://joshuamcharles.com/ Josh Charles

    I am a PK as well, and some of what she said really resonated with me. I took the step she seems to be unwilling to take, however, and completely gave up my religion.

    It’s so easy to get burned out in the ministry. She should ask herself the question that I could never answer:

    If you are doing the Lords work, why doesn’t he support you, and provide for your spiritual needs?

    If she can answer that, good for her. But that question haunted me, until I realized it was all built upon the faulty premise that there is a god.

  • Ann

    I’m an atheist and technically a PK as well, but my parent did not become a priest until I was in junior high. That might sound good, except that I was a kid when my parent “felt the calling” to become a priest, aka “heartburn”, as I used to call it. Some of what Kari says I can relate to, but not all of it. I never had parishioners try to get me to minister to them. I did feel the need to be perfect, but that would likely have been the case if my father hadn’t become a priest.

    Every PKs experience is bound to be different – parenting styles are different, communities are different, and congregations are different.

  • Krista

    There’s a reason people like to say “The preacher’s kids are always the worst ones.” (I heard this often.) It’s because people notice us the most. Nobody thinks much of it when the other kids are doing the same thing.
    I’m a PK and an MK (missionary’s kid) and I think that it depends on your personality whether you let all of it bother you. Some of my siblings feel it and I don’t. I did suffer a lot because of growing up in another country, though, and they didn’t.
    I do agree that parents do NOT understand what their PK kids go through. My parents answer these types of complaints with “god called you into the ministry too, through us.”
    I remember a man who was about to go to africa with his family asking me what it was like as an MK. I think he was expecting me to tell about my fun adventures. I proceeded to tell him horror stories – and there are many horror stories – of what happens to MKs. I’ve had several friends who were ruined by it. He was shocked. I also made a huge point of telling him that his kids never have and probably never will hear a calling. I don’t know if I got through to him.

  • http://scottf.wordpress.com Scott

    I have a friend from university who was a minister’s kid and was considered by everyone as a bit wild and crazy. In our group of friends, everyone did the same things and got up to the same kinds of trouble, but I think most of us considered the minister’s kid to be the wild one. I never really thought about it before, but after reading Kari’s monologue, I realize that even as a non-believer, I was unconsciously trying to hold the minister’s kid to a different behavioral standard than the rest of us.

    I can imagine that having everyone around you doing that adds up to a lot of pressure.

    On another note, this effect seems a lot to me like Dawkins’ concept of childhood religious indoctrination as child abuse taken to the illogical and absurd extreme.

  • Kari Morris

    Hello, all. My name is Kari Morris, and I am the author of the blog post you just read. I couldn’t figure out how to contact Hermant directly, so I thought I’d leave a post here.

    Firstly, I want to thank Hermant very much for posting and circulating my blog: especially the pledge. It overjoys me to know that it’s getting out there, and most importantly that it’s been resonating with PK’s. I did want, however, to (albeit gently) repimand Hermant a bit for claiming in his post that I’m still “deeply religious”. I can see how he probably got that impression from my writing, but the truth is: I’m not, really. I used religious language because I can’t tell the story without it, and also because the pledge addresses folks who are religious. But as to my personal beliefs: I consider myself an atheist, though am very open to interconnectivity and the something larger than myself that I experience while I’m making art.

    Secondly, I wish to say to Mike’s comment: I’m so happy that you had a positive experience as a PK, and I believe that your hypothesis was right on. I’m sure there are many PK’s that have had a positive experience. I’ve heard it remarked by a few that they “got lucky” with their parents’ particular congregation. I’m overjoyed at that. But for the most part, I find that being a PK is a painful experience for most, and very like the experience I described. And-this goes back to your hypothesis-about 99 percent of those painful stories come from: children whose minister parents served in conservative and/or fundmentalist congregations. That was my family’s case. Though in saying that, I must confess: my parents’ congregations were far less fundamentalist than many others I’ve seen.

    That being said, though I have walked away from fundmentalist religion and a belief in a Judeo-Christian God, I am deeply committed to not being fundmentalist about my atheism. I learned firsthand from my upbringing: fundmentalism breaks down human hearts and human communities, regardless of belief, particularly in children. Of course, this is tricky. There are many, many things about religion that I believe to be devastatingly harmful. But in all fairness-since I have many friends in the clergy-I also know that religious folks have done so much good, and continue to do so: especially my friends in liberal denominations. At the end of the day, at least right now: I’m a UU. It’s a spiritual community grounded in reason and mutual respect of everyone’s beliefs and journeys: a blessed antithesis of fundmentalism. Fully committed to social jusice on all fronts, UU’s have a critical eye and commitment to ending those abuses of religion, and-to me-create a wonderful alternative to it. Particularly in UU congregations, children are encouraged to reason and think for themselves, and are supported in their journeys. As a former PK who didn’t have this privilege, I’m especially happy about that. As a UU, I can finally say: I’ve found breathing room and a home. :)

  • Cade

    I’m really quite surprised at the number of PKs that are posting comments on this. My brother is a pastor and his wife is having a kid in the next few months. I’m sending him a link to the facebook group.

    I’m wondering if this may be an isolated case, though.

    From her blog post:

    -you find a few online PK Organizations. Most of their pamphlets and books are out of print. They have a few get-togethers, mostly to talk about “how great it was to be a preacher’s kid”. They don’t speak of the pain. Not online. Online is public. And they’re still scared-even at 50-that a church member will see it and retaliate against their preacher parent still serving. PK’s are forever looking over their shoulder.

    Maybe they ARE happy about being a preacher’s kid. It seems a little cynical to dismiss that offhand. I don’t have much of a basis to make the judgment, though. The comments above are a little mixed, (and from biased sources, no offense) so it’s hard to tell.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Kari — I made the appropriate changes to the posting. Thanks for correcting me!

    – Hemant

  • Kari Morris

    Hi, all. Me again.

    Thank you, Hemant, for making the correction. :) And my apologies! I realized that I was consistently misspelling your name all through my last posting. Hemant, not Hermant! :)

    And in response to Cade’s comment, I did want to say…It was not my intention, in the passage you highlighted, to dismiss PK’s that have had positive experiences. Like I expressed in my earlier response to Mike, I’m overjoyed when I hear that PK’s have had positive experiences. And, I have no doubt, that when some PK’s express positive memories online, they are indeed telling the truth. However…it’s been my experience that, in many cases, PK’s only express the positive memories because they’re scared to be honest about the painful ones. Especially in public. I forgot to notate in my monologue (and went back and fixed it) that I have found online forums where PK’s are honest about the pain. In these cases, many only sign their first names or sign no name at all.

    But it is true, every PK is different. Some will have better experiences than others. (In truth, I’ve heard stories that are far more painful than mine.) That’s why I think it’s important to raise awareness about what can cause painful experiences; and take steps to ensure that all PK’s everywhere will avoid them. That’s why I created the plege.

    I wish the best to your brother and wife and their new little one. And I do appreciate you forwarding the pledge to them, so much.

    Kari :)

  • Cade

    Update:
    I sent my brother the link to the facebook pledge and this is what he replied to me with:

    Unfortunately, it is fairly accurate. Life in ministry is often described as a “fish bowl”, particularly in smaller communities. That is, everybody is always looking in at their lives and their families. Their lives are an open book. People naturally take more notice if the pastor’s kid does something wrong. As a result, pastors often feel more pressure to have their families look perfect. People assume that the pastor’s wife will teach sunday school, play organ/piano and be involved in all sorts of things even though in reality, she should not be expected to be more involved than anyone else.
    On the flip side, I think this group takes it a bit far. Although there may be circumstances in which it MAY be necessary for some family members to attend another church, that seems to be the easy way out. Instead, pastors need to work to have proper boundaries and likewise, the church needs to recognize the difference between the pastor and his wife (and the difference in their roles).
    I also take issue with the idea that the church is viewed as the pastor’s “workplace”. It’s really not that simple and to view it that way denigrates it to simply a job, when it is much more than that. Just because I make my ‘living’ doing it and receive a paycheck doesn’t mean it is simply another line of work that people choose to do. I truly believe that God has called me (and Lindsay) into this ministry. And every ministry (whether paid or volunteer) has sacrifices, but also NEEDS good boundaries. Not because it is a job, but because you are so deeply entrenched in peoples lives.

    He didn’t take the pledge, but he’ll probably at least be more aware of how his ministry is affecting his kid(s).

    Thanks for clarifying yourself Kari. I was a little worried that you thought that pretty much every PK had a horrible experience or was a phony. (I neglected to read your first comment before I posted) I see you have a much more realistic view than that now.

  • Kari Morris

    Thank you, Cade, for sending the pledge to your brother, and for posting his response. I’m so glad that he was receptive, and I especially applaud his recognition of needing boundaries as a minister, especially when that minister has a family. Please give him my thanks.

    I will say, though, the latter part of his response grieved me a bit. I don’t think he read the pledge closely…

    Requesting that ministers not bring their family to church with them is not meant as “an easy way out”. Quite the opposite. I’ll use “God language” here, ’cause I know that’s where your brother’s coming from… :) If a PK attends the same church their parent serves-and this is especially true at rural churches where the parent is the only minister-they are being put in a situation where their parent is also their minister. This is a dangerous blurring of the boundaries ministers should have. If a minister wants their child to be spiritually fed, they need to send them to another church where they can have a pastor who is not their parent. These are proper boundaries.

    And by calling the church a “workplace”, I’m not intending to reduce its importance. Again, using God language….God calls everyone to their jobs, their vocations. For this reason, ministry is not above any other workplace, it is equal to it. And for this reason, every “workplace” is sacred. Moreover, there are a myriad of jobs that are “entrenched in community”. Yet, none of these require that people bring their family to work with them. Why should ministers be any different? There is a parallel that Alex–another reader of this blog–saw, and I agree with him. The pressures of PK’s are very similar to the pressures children of politicians and entertainment professionals have. The smart parents in these professions know: hide the children from the spotlight, for the children did not choose the profession, nor were the children called to it. With this choice, the children grow up happier and more well-adjusted. And, in turn, their parents’ career–their call–flourishes. In the same way, PK’s do not choose to be born into a ministry family, nor are they called to it (though some may feel called to be ministers themselves later on). PK’s deserve to be kept out of the spotlight, out of “the fishbowl” of their parent’s church, as much as possible. Asking this doesn’t reduce the importance of their parent’s call; rather, it enables that call to be served more fully. If a minister’s family is happy and well-adjusted, so will the minister be, and thusly be better equipped to serve their community. The children of ministers should have the choice to go to whatever church they want, or not at all. Every other child has this choice (or at least, they should). PK’s deserve it, too.

    I hope this better clarifies the intent of the pledge. Again, I do deeply appreciate your brother reading it and considering it. And thanks again for forwarding it on.

    Take care,
    Kari :)

  • Christophe Thill

    Well, that’s at least one good point of Catholicism : there’s no such thing as preachers’ kids. So no problems for them.

    Errr… officially, I mean. In many small villages, people knew the little kid who had one more reason to call the man in black “Father”…

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    that’s at least one good point of Catholicism : there’s no such thing as preachers’ kids

    Well not a legitimate PK, anyway.

  • Jarrad

    Thanks Kari for that eloquent monologue, and thanks Hemant for linking it here. Wow wow wow. This put a lot of things in perspective for me.

    I am a PK. I am the son of two PKs. One set of grandparents were missionaries and then Grandpa became a minister, and the other Grandpa was also a minister. Talk about a fishbowl…

    I can relate to a great deal of the monolgue: not fitting in; expected to be an adult at age six; becoming skeptical of churches, religion, and even God, himself; jealousy from the congregation emotionally taking away parents; the “back-stage pass”–this is a big one for me; becoming spiritually lost upon moving away from home. I get all of this.

    Where my situation is different is that after about age 9 or 10, I became more rebellious. I certainly didn’t lend myself to counseling others or becoming an appendage of the ministry–quite the opposite. I was the PK who was perpetually kicked out of Bible School and Sunday School for challenging authority and questioning the teachings. This behavior pretty much lead to most of my family disowning me for quite a good many years.

    The interesting thing about it is that up until right now, at age 33, I thought my situation was unique. Whenever I hear stories online from other PKs, sure, there are the jokes about stereotypes and living under higher scrutiny, but these accounts usually end with the PK reaffirming their love for their parent, for their religion, for their faith, etc. It brings me comfort to realize that indeed, I am not alone.

    I admire the Preacher’s Pledge, and believe it could prevent future pain in families of ministers. It doesn’t seem to be something any of the ministers in my family would have agreed with, however. I remember in high school asking to attend another church’s youth group because my friends went there, and this was strictly forbidden–what would it look like to have the preacher’s son attending another church?? So much for show… so little to nurture a spiritual walk with God.

    What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, however. Even though there is pain, I wouldn’t change a thing. My journey has made me who I am today, and I kind of like that person. :)

  • binchint

    Hi i am also a PK, 23yrs old of FJC church. When i was still in my elementary and high school days, i’ve also felt and went through those feelings. Like my friends are able to go to places where i shouldn’t be at for the reason that other people might stumble, even though i don’t have any intention to do something bad, etc. But it didn’t give me any reason to dislike my being a pk. In fact, i am so happy that i am one and i understand their reasons. God is blessing our family due to reason that we are “His anointed”. My parents are doing their part and i, too, should do my part by behaving myself. As Pk’s, we need to see the whole picture why we have so many restrictions in life, though we know we won’t do anything wrong. It’s our duty to BE AN EXAMPLE to others – it’s our purpose. It won’t be easy for us to follow and control ourselves unless we see the reason and have a relationship with God. It’s hard to follow the rules if we don’t know or understand what it is for. Let’s all remember that God didn’t put us here on earth just to enjoy. We are here for a purpose. This world is not a perfect one. That’s why we have to do our best to get to heaven when the time comes. And it is our duty to bring as many as we can with us. We are so blessed to be PK’s, maybe we are just not seeing it. It’s just a matter of perspective. Let’s change our angles and view everything from a more optimistic side. WE ARE ALL SO BLESSED!
    So lets endure all these. Let’s GO and DO our best for God. GodblesU all. Jesus loves you.

  • Penny Stuart

    You know I have been a PK for 48 years. Was it easy? no, did we go thru alot of bad stuff? More that I care to share. But you know what the negative has got to go… The best part of all of this is that I know God, I see God, I hear God and I have a wonderful relationship with HIM. Get over the negative at look towards the positive. Maybe get over the poor me syndrome and start thanking God for who he is. No matter if you were PK or not we all experience life and I thank God I had that extra religious upbringing. For I know that God is with me through it all. And for all those whe mistreated us. God bless them and we as PK’s should be praying for them.

  • katie

    Kari-
    I just wanted to say that I’m glad you’ve come to peace with your own spirituality and that you had the strength and conviction to find a community that was the right fit. Interestingly, I am also a PK, but i’m a UUPK, so i didn’t quite have the same experience. I hardly ever resented my dad for being a minister, but i did have some tough times in junior high. Mostly, though it was because i had to explain what UU was to a bunch of uuber conservative christians at my school.

    Now that I’m older (turning 30 next month), I fully appreciate all the ways that my dad’s ministry positively affected my life and the person I have become. I moved to a new city and thought i would really like a church where not everyone knows who I am, but really it just makes me appreciate my home congregation.

    namaste and blessed be,
    katie sev

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  • christine cross

    I am a 50-year old daughter, granddaughter and niece of very liberal Christian minsters. I am an atheist. I don’t understand how ANY Christians of any denomination can judge anyone else’s choices.

    It seems to me somehow “un-Christian” to judge others. I do follow the golden rule…maybe that’s what I gleaned being raised in a “religious” house.

    I believe now that the mind is what creates ANY experience we have as living, breathing homo sapiens. There are studies showing that lesions on the brain, a certain part of the brain, in some Epilepsy patients, cause “religious” experiences. This to say that our brains are capable of some remarkable things.

    IOW, I believe that we create anything we believe with our brains. If you choose to create a Christian-faith-based existence, more power to you. If you choose to create a Quran-based-Muslim existence, knock yourself out. As for me, I have arrived at believing in the power of my own brain and its uncanny ability to understand sides of almost any issue..experience…what-have-you….

    Including: our species produced a Hitler and a Gandhi, the Hutu/Tutsi genocides and Mother Theresa’s minions soothing the leperous and poorest of our species… and so it goes and, I assume, will continue to go.

    We all coexist together. 139 billion (approx) of us have ever lived here on this blue-green planet, each of us adding to the “human experience”…

    Does it matter if there is a God or not? Why?

  • tibor

    What a great blog! Thanks Kari and all others. I myself am an only child PK, now in my 40s. I grew up in an immigrant Protestant church in NYC, fairly liberal I suppose, meaning that Dad didn’t threaten anyone with Hell, but mom ain’t liberal at all, politically nor religiously. They had forays into evangelical places which really scared me, including meeting some of their born again friends too many times. Dad, who was the minister, was actually rather open minded about certain things, like sex or at the very least, girls. They even let me listen to Led Zeppelin, but I imagine they had no clue about the occult stuff behind the band’s inspiration. Yet, let me not let them off the hook so easily. I’m still single in my 40s because ultimately religious guilt about sex screwed me up. Well, it’s probably more from mom, who was the more religious of the two. Sex is worse than killing Iraqis in the desert. This is paradoxical, because, even as a child, I sort of intuitively sensed that this Man in the Sky and Jesus stuff is nonsense, but “sort of” just “believed” in it anyway without taking the dogma and ritual seriously. Basically, from age 9 to 36 I was irreligious, whilst not being an atheist. I wasn’t even agnostic, because I simply didn’t think along those terms. At 36, I went to a Unitarian Universalist Church only to do some research for a grad school paper. Well, guess what, I loved it, and attended for four years. I still attend here and there, but attempted to go Protestant again in my original Christian Church. I go through the rituals of Communion, and praying, although the praying for me is more of a silent acknowlegement of something, as I suppose meditation at UU Church. What I’m saying, is, that, it’s a suspension of disbelief, and Pascal’s Wager. I’m not an Atheist, at least I don’t think, but I’m intrigued by Atheism and Science. Perhaps Unitarian Universalism is then the right place for me, since I can be a skeptic within vestiges of liberal religion. There’s no judgement of sexuality nor alternative sexual lifestyles.
    Great points above, about being a PK in a fishbowl. It was absolutely awful to be judged on a different barometer than the “wordly kids.” I just hated it. Consequently it caused me to espouse Marxian, or at the very least egalitarian ideas, which I still believe in, not that I’d turn down a buck : )

  • AJ

    Kari-

    I am SO glad that someone is talking about this. I was raised a PK in the Pentecostal church and felt much of what you described. The funny thing in my situation is that it wasn’t strictly my perception of what was expected of me. My parents (esp my Mom) would actually say that they expected me to be perfect and an example to the other kids. I had NO friends growing up (literally) because most of my dad’s congregation was older people. I wasn’t allowed to try to be friends with the neighborhood kids unless I could convince them to come to church with me because my parents never wanted me to be seen with the town’s “riff-raff” or “little hooligans”. Sundays after church in the summer, I wasn’t allowed to play outside because Dad didn’t want people to think I was a “little rogue” disrespecting the Sabbath. Ironically, they were fine with me sitting inside playing, or watching violent films on TV. They were obsessive about my appearance around boys. Once when I was about 7, I was in my neighbors shed looking for a butterfly net with her 12 yr old grandson, he pulled the door shut for all of 30 seconds because she was mowing the grass in front of it. When my parents found out they gave me a scalding lecture I will never forget.

    We never wore pants, had piercings, went to the movies, cut our hair or anything like that. I’m an avid music lover but I always struggled to get them to let me go to concerts. Even religious ones. Mom said I was “chasing married men” and she wouldn’t have it.She called it idolatry if I found a band I liked. I was homeschooled so that also limited my contact with the outside world. It was a completeely isolated life. Even when I started college at 18, I was still living at home and so I was still the odd one out.

    It is an odd blurring of reality when your dad is also your pastor, because even on the rare occasions that we’d visit another church, he’d always leave pointing out why we shouldn’t “take heed” to what that pastor said because he’s wrong about this that or the other. That attitude made it so that we trusted and consulted no one about spiritual matters but him. He was the end all be all of religion.

    You’re right about how you learn to fake it as well. I faked my entire childhood so well that after a while even I believed me a little bit. More so in my case because I was also hiding the fact that I was being abused. I felt terrible because I knew my whole life was a lie. There was the person my parents thought I was. A different person to each of my sisters. And the person that I wanted to be. I finally cracked and told my mom about the abuse when I was 16. She did nothing about it. She just worried that someone else would find out and wondered how I’d wear white on my wedding day. Nothing changed for me and I lived in hell another 4 years.

    I finally cracked again last Christmas and this time I told the preacher himself (my dad). He wondered not how I survived but how I “could do this to him”. Said if I’d been smarter and stronger none of this would’ve happened and then said I was just trying to destory the family. To top all of that off, I found out that dear old preacher dad had numerous affairs and was a closet pedophile.

    That was all I could take. I moved out. I’m an agnostic now. I have piercings and tattoos and short black/blue hair and the best part is, there is only 1 version of myself now and everyone gets to see it.

    • Candibar21

      I am so sorry that happened to you. I am a former PK too and I have been emotionally and verbally abused by my parents. I was opened to it by my therapist this week and it has been hard to handle.

  • bman

    I wish i could read your whole blog Kari you seem so smart! I also must live this lifestlye.

  • rell

    Thank you so much Kari for putting into words the life that I struggle to define. I am (or rather was – parents no longer pastors) a PK.

    I can identify with every single aspect of what was written above (though I tried to find your blog and the link wouldn’t work…).

    There is something to be said about this fish bowl life and you said it brilliantly.

    Unfortunately I was also an abused PK which made all the pretending even more profound. Sitting perfect, being the perfect child, the example, the “pure” one… all the while hiding the real truth.

    People are always quick to judge PK’s for all the reasons which you state. The legacy of that upbringing will forever haunt me.

    rell

  • John

    I can remember life as a preachers kid. The good church people delighted in “bringing in the sheaves”. Soon they would “throw stones” at other people in the community. The next thing I knew, they were claiming that they were the “future of the community”. One of the first prayers that I remember praying was “Lord please save me from the church people. Do I have to be like this to be a Christian? They are always crying and complaining and they seem not to be very happy.”

    I can remember hearing a woman tell my mom that that preachers kids are the worst kind. It seemed only appropriate that I give the woman what she expected. It seemed expected of me to be bad so I made sure that the church people got what they wanted.

    My teenage years brought on a different type of mentality from the church people. They would come to me and tell me their problems and expect me to know all of the higher level spiritual stuff. It should have been obvious to them that I could not remember all of the cool church sayings. I had a real hard time with them because they didn’t make any sense to me. We had to be washed in the blood of the lamb to be saved. Everyone had cows. We were to drink from the well of life. Everyone had running water. It is kinda tough to get saved when you can’t find the right stuff to get saved with.

    People like to say that there is something wrong with preachers kids. I don’t know why they can’t figure that one out. We have to listen to the the crazy church people. We kept the parsonage clean, mowed the yard on Saturday, answered the phone, and directed people to the preacher when they came around. We were expected to lead the singing, pray when called on.

    I was a preachers kid who could not get the hang of church talk no matter how hard I tried. The last time I attended a Baptist Sunday school the teacher said “God rules the heavens but the devil rules the world!” I make a point not to drive down her street.

    Church talk has evolved over the years. There are expressions that I have never heard of. Some are very complex and I know that people have to work hard to remember their lines. They have to prove that they are worthy of Christiandom by getting their lines correct. It is not enough to say “I believe in God”.

    I am like many of you who are taking the time to tell your stories here. I listened to the preacher throwing a tantrum and wondering what made him so mad and hoping that he would get over it before we went home. I remember the long invitations (alter calls). I would pray “Lord, I want to go home because I am hungry.” Some long winded deacon was always called on the pray at the end of the service. “Lord, I will be good if you will make him stop praying.” They never did so it was a sign to me it was OK to be bad. The church people expected it and God approved it.

  • Candibar21

    Perfectly said…I am a fromer PK too and that is exactly what I went thru. I am not longer religious too.

  • Rachel20

    I am a pk, and I hate how I’m living under a microscope, I can’t have any friends because I need to set the example for everyone, so as long as I’m with my parents I will never have a “friend”. Everyone always has their eyes on me, waiting for me to mess up. I cry constantly because there are so many expectations, I’m a human being! I’m not perfect! And I’m so glad i can just take this out here, It’s hard being a pk.

  • Maria

    This is so perfect. Im 16 and a PK. This article describes my life perfectly. I am so sick of having to be the perfect child and having to live in the perfect family. If people saw what most preachers kids and families are like underneath all the perfect lies, they would see a lot of pain and brokenness.


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