Dear Friends, It's interesting that the most comments thus far on this blog have been regarding a post about children. It can be hard to understand how some parishioners can be so loving toward our kids and, at the same time, be so negative towards our spouse. But it occurred to me that the same was true about Jesus. As we know, Jesus referred to God as "Abba," the Aramaic word for "Daddy." As a itinerant preacher, Jesus' messages were never meant to point to how great he was, but they were designed to show us how loving God is. His message really was, "Love me; Love my Daddy." The Good News is that when we see Jesus, we also see God.
Now, I realize there are big differences here. But sometimes our kids really don't see it that way. Sometimes they feel the burden of being the preacher's kid. Being a preacher's kid can be a "heavy gift."
Here is an example. When one of my daughters was in elementary school, another little girl offered this hurtful jibe and said in a mocking tone, "You're not supposed to say that because you're dad's a preacher." In the conversation at home following this incident my daughter told me that this kid's father was an accountant, so I asked her. "Is this child good in math?" To which my daughter said "No." "She should be, because isn't her father an accountant?" My daughter laughed. What followed was a long discussion of how So-and-so's parent was this, and that didn't mean anything about who the kid was or what the kid did. She had a lot of friends, so this went on for a good while. But the upshot was, that she only had to be herself. She was not an extension of her parents.
Statistics show that many preachers' kids never darken the door of a church once they grow up. I'm not sure whether is because they've seen too much or too little. Maybe both.
How have your kids coped with being preacher's kids? What ways have you found to help them learn to be themselves even in church? How do you encourage their unique expressions of faith and witness?
It's all about grace.
Kathy is an editor at a religious publisher.