"P" Means Privileged

How to raise a happy P.K.

Patty Mostert Marsh currently serves as Registrar at Upper Columbia Academy where husband, Larry, is principal. Patty, a mother of two delightful daughters in their twenties, Denna and Laura, keeps busy with a few special interests including music, hiking, camping, birding and digging in God's Word.

Have you noticed the same phenomenon I have? If a public speaker makes reference to his "P.K." roots, all too often words in a negative vein follow such as "My dad was a preacher and never had time for us kids," or "I was always expected to be a model child because I was a P.K.", or "If you had been a P.K., you would have rebelled, too."

When I hear these and other comments, I do not understand—in fact, I very much disagree! I get the distinct impression from some that being a "Preacher's Kid" was a curse just a few degrees less than that of being an orphan. But it doesn't have to be that way. I know. In fact, I'm an expert in this area. I have not polled hundreds of P.K.s or researched a Master's thesis on the subject. However, my credentials are even better. You see, I WAS a P.K. And a happy P.K. at that.

Although I am now married with a family of my own, I look back and say, "Lord, thank you for the privilege of having a minister for a dad." As I reflect on my growing-up years, I feel five factors contributed to making our preacher's family a happy one:

Our family was important. My dad worked from dawn to far, far past dusk seven days a week—a true workaholic personality. Even if that had not been his personality the job description would have required it. A super-human effort was needed to shepherd as many as five churches, have regular evangelistic meetings, build new churches, give Bible studies galore, promote Ingathering four months a year, go on hospital visits, and counsel members—you know the scenario. (Note: I do not hold such a lifestyle as an ideal—just telling it like it was. In later years the price tag was paid with my dad's health problems and ultimately his early death.)

But somehow in the midst of the hustle-bustle, Dad still took time for fun and family activities. We enjoyed swimming, gardening, zoo trips, field trips to factories (I've visited a potato chip factory, an underground salt mine, a tire factory, a cereal factory . . .), parades, camping, hiking and air shows. Our family had lots of fun together. And no matter how tight the finances (and believe me it was tight with five kids to feed and educate on only one income), my folks carved into each year's budget a family vacation—not exotic, perhaps, but memorable nonethe­less.

Our family was included. My dad liked to include his family whenever possible. Surprisingly, he discovered there was much kids could do to lighten or enhance a pastor's load. We passed out literature, sang or played an instrument at meetings (even the beginning efforts of a pianist are appreciated at Prayer Meeting in the smaller churches), kept dad company, helped with the younger children, greeted people, made posters, and helped dad drive (teenagers love this one). Whatever dad asked us kids to do, he had a special knack of making us feel so important.

Of course, a child's life must be kept in balance. An incident when I was about five-years-old pointed this out to my folks. My dad pastored a large church along with several smaller churches. For some reason, within a few month's time many deaths had occurred in our area. Of course, dad dutifully officiated at the services. To offer moral support to dad, mom would attend and bring me along. After one especially emotionally draining funeral service, I asked in an all-but-desperate little voice, "Mama, do I have to go to any more of these dead-people's meetings?" After that my mom lent her moral support more often by staying home and praying.

Our family was privileged. Now don't get me wrong. By privileged I certainly do not mean abundant finances, nor extra perks. But rather, God had called my dad to a very important and unique calling. This idea, however, came not from speech given, but rather from an attitude that permeated our home. If my mom felt resentment toward the many sacrifices and dad's long hours of ministering to others, never did she voice it or show it through a negative attitude.

Now that I am a wife and mother whose husband, too, has been called to a special occupation (an academy principal), I admire my mother's tremendously positive outlook on life even more. One thing is certain —if your attitude reflects resentment and hostility toward your husband's work, your children will share your attitude, but to a greater degree!

Our family was mothered. Although Dad's hours waxed long and erratic, my mother remained a homemaker. Even in the sixties many moms had joined the work force, but mom's presence with her cheerful song, warm smile, aromatic meals and clean home brought a security to the lives of us five kids like nothing else could have. Our family certainly didn't have the biggest, the best or the most, but that was all right—mom was home!

Our family was disciplined. Lest it sound like I'm bragging, let me mention that by disciplined I do not mean we were model kids with halos in tact. (Too many readers may have known me as a child to make such a claim.) However, we basically obeyed instructions, sat with a reasonable amount of quietness in meetings, acted polite and respectful, and of course, mom and dad always knew our whereabouts.

I have shared with my own daughters a secret that I knew was true in my family. That is, "The fact that your dad has a special calling has nothing to do with the way we have chosen to raise you. Regardless, if your dad was a mechanic, a doctor, a street sweeper, or an airline pilot, it would make no difference. Our standards would remain the same. We would still want well-disciplined, respectful and obedient children."

So these are the factors I feel made a real difference in our preacher's family. Did you notice something? These factors would probably strengthen any home—preachers or non-preachers. An emotionally healthy, loving, active, fun-filled, Spirit-filled, disciplined, caring family provides the optimum environment for raising happy kids. A real challenge as we enter the twenty-first century! But remember "With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26)–and "Whatever is to be done at God's command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings" (Christ Object Lessons, p. 333).

Patty Mostert Marsh currently serves as Registrar at Upper Columbia Academy where husband, Larry, is principal. Patty, a mother of two delightful daughters in their twenties, Denna and Laura, keeps busy with a few special interests including music, hiking, camping, birding and digging in God's Word.