Sunday, September 6, 2009

Raising P.K.'s

This weekend my boys are gone, they are at P.K. Retreat. They look forward to it every year. If you are wondering what a P.K. is, allow me to let you into our world; P.K. stands for Pastor's Kid. The Assemblies of God here in Arizona, take all the Pastor's Kids, and Missionary Kids in Jr. High and High School on a retreat over Labor Day Weekend. (The girls can't wait till next year when they get to start going.) They Love on these kids, and spoil them, they talk about issues that are unique to their situation. You see, P.K.'s can have a bad reputation in the Church world. They are thought to be the bad kids, the rebellious kids, the trouble makers.

One of the Blogs I follow is Clutch, a Blog for Pastor's Wives. And they recently did a post about a study of why so many P.K.'s end up not going to Church as adults, and turning away from their Faith. I think it is one of the best posts they have done. I mean after all we are raising 4 P.K.'s, I'm very interested in this. And I must say, I was relieved as I read it, that at least we are doing some things right! Isn't that what we all as parents worry about? I think all Christian parents can benefit from this study.

Some of the things this study pointed out as being the major causes of attrition for these kids is Legalism, a lack of relationality in the family, and for the clergy parents to hold their own children to a higher behavioral standard. I think I am in no way legalistic, and try to be very relational. As far as the behavioral thing goes, I remember when Kyle was little, and a particular Sunday School teacher he had. (Side note here: if there is ever an issue with one of my kids and a teacher, it is always Kyle! He has that kind of personality that a teacher either loves or can't stand, there is no in between. I learned this at a very early age with him. Thankfully most of his teachers would tell me things like "I just love Kyle, he adds so much to classroom discussion, he's such a fun child to have around," etc. or on the other hand, if there was a personality conflict with the teacher, I would get "Kyle talks too much, and out of turn, draws too much attention to himself," etc., there was never an in between for Kyle with teachers)

Sorry, now back to my story; there was a teacher Kyle had at Church when he was little, (who also had a son the same age and in the same class as well, I think there was a little competition thing going on too.) But I knew that without a doubt, every single Sunday when I went to pick Kyle up from his class that this teacher would tell me something wrong he had done in class, or how badly he had behaved. Every single week! It could be everything from he talked too much, or didn't share something, or didn't give the other kids a chance to answer a question, It was always something. Until one time, as she was telling me whatever it was that my son had done wrong in class that day, she made the mistake of saying "And he should know better, being a Pastor's kid!"

Now, if you know me at all, you would know that I am not a confrontational person at all. I am an easy going, happy go lucky person that let's most things roll right off my back. But, when she said to me that my little boy should know better, and behave differently, because he is a Pastor's kid, I (still very gently and politely, yet firmly) let her know that, yes his father is a Pastor, but, Kyle isn't. He is just a little boy, like every other boy that age in that class. And it isn't fair to treat him any differently, or hold him to a different standard simply because of what line of work his father is in. And you know what? After that, I never again had to worry about her telling me all the things Kyle had done wrong in class. I think she realized that she was treating him unfairly. We've also had to remind other, teachers and those in leadership positions in some of the Churches we've been in at times, that Pastor's kids are still just kids! Let them be kids.

This study also pointed out that Pastor's with the highest retention rate of adult children provided positive and fun family experiences, and were close enough to talk about anything, and allowed children and teens the freedom to develop their own faith experience. In our family, we have always talked about things openly and honestly with our kids. The good, the bad, and the ugly of Church life. Now, we don't tell them every little detail of everything that happens in the Church, for instance, every person that complains that daddy's music is too loud, etc. ;) But, kids know a lot more than we give them credit for, and they know when something isn't right, or when their parents are upset. And though we tell them what's going on, we make it a point never to badmouth anyone, no matter how badly they have hurt us, or how angry we might be at them. And we all know that people can be very hurtful.

And we have instilled in our Children, I think since infancy, that even though we can talk freely in our home about everything, what they hear in regards to the Church, is not to be talked about outside of our home. And we have never had an issue. There have even been times when maybe a staff person was resigning, or something big was being announced in Church and afterwords, friends of my boys would come up to them and ask them, "why didn't you tell me that was happening?" And they would just say "I wasn't allowed to." No questions.

I think it's the parents that try to hide everything from their kids that have problems. Like I said, kids know when something is going on. And though they do not need to know all the details, and it does need to be age appropriate, I always feel, it's better to be honest with them. Families are there for each other, in the good times and in the difficult times. And there are difficult times as Pastors, but there are really great times too. And we wouldn't trade our life for anything, but, at the same time we wouldn't ever want our vocation to be detrimental to our children. They are our first priority.

For the most part, our kids love being Pastor's kids. Especially when they get to go on a retreat with other Pastor's kids, and get special treatment, instead of being the ones who are always doing for everyone else, you know, always at Church early and staying late, setting up, tearing down, planning, operating, doing, working, helping, the list could go on and on. Or when they have to share their parents with everyone one else in the Church. We try to always make sure we have family time, and do things together. We also try to appreciate our kids, and even reward them when they do things at the Church, not just expect them to do it because of who their dad is. And hopefully we are not turning them off to the Church and to the things of God, but instilling in them the deep love we have for God and for all people. I guess only time will tell. If you are still reading this when my kids are adults, I'll let you know how it turned out. :)

(When we moved into this house about 7 years ago,
the kids climbed into our built in wall unit)
My P.K.'s from top left, clockwise: Erica, Lexi, Kyle and Zach

In the mean time I would love to hear your input on any of these issues. And If you are a P.K. I would be very interested in hearing what you have to say. And thank you to Clutch, for letting me share this information with my readers.


stefanie said...

I hear you! You gave me a lot to think and rethink about. Never heard of Clutch. Going to check it out.

stefanie said...

You just made my day!

C. JoyBell C. said...

Great photo! I love it!

That's the same reputation as missionary kids.

My parents were missionaries (so they think- ha!) Well anyway, they did meet in the School Of Ministry in California.

I used to think that my mother cared more about other people that with me. And she would openly say that I am her "sacrifice" and that she's willing to sacrifice me, for other people, if that's what God wanted. Same with my daddy.

So I felt "is that what God wants?"

And that will explain much anger.


I knew that's not what God wanted! Somehow, I was strong enough to say to myself that I knew who God was, and that WASNT who He was!

And so instead of rebelling, I held onto Jesus, believing that He was on MY side, not on theirs! :)

Jennifer said...

Stopping by from SITS. Hope you have a great day.

Stephanie Faris said...

You're doing a great job. I know pastor's kids who grew up to be pastors themselves...and certainly I know plenty who are very active in the church. One thing I noticed is that often kids have to go away from their faith to find it on their own when they're around it all their lives. When they do find it again, they come back much stronger...because they stopped to question it and figure out why they believe and what they believe, rather than just continuing through life on the same path they'd been taking.

Blia said...

Stopping by from SITS. I know what you mean. We really have to just understand kids for kids and not give them some type of false expectation based on who we think they are or should be. Thanks for sharing.