The quotes in this piece are from a book-chapter called 'Clergy Kids: Give Them A Break' by Catherine Hickem, a Christian psychotherapist, pastor's kid, and clergy wife. I was struck not only by the honesty of her writing but also the empowering words she speaks to clergy parents to care for their children while they too navigate the complexities of ministry. The original article is here if you would like to read it.
Clergy kids have a unique perspective on life. "They are fortunate to be exposed to some of the greatest riches under heaven as well as the deepest pain on earth...they often find themselves caught in a vise between their parents' expectations and those of the church members. As a result, clergy kids are set up to fail."
It's hard for any parent when their child misbehaves, but particularly when you are in a culture that expects you to be a model of Christian morals and living. That being said "it is important that our self-worth is not tied to our children's behaviour. If my son or daughter misbehaves, it does not mean I am a bad person or a bad parent...as adults, you have the ability to process and understand the dynamics of people and church personalities. Your children, however, are simply trying to find their way through childhood and adolescence."
It's a tough experience for everyone. But I found it encouraging that she firmly believes that despite high expectations, complex church personalities, and pressures of a ministry lifestyle, clergy kids are helped most by parents who stand up for them.
"When our children become the object of criticism from people within the church, it is our job to respond with clear boundaries and a right heart...God has given us the responsibility to protect our children. If we do not protect them, then who will?"
She has many insights and personal stories that are encouraging and inspiring. I encourage you to take a bit of time to read the full article here. Catherine gives many suggestions on caring for clergy kids, which are all excellent, I'd love to know what you think.