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What is a Pastor's Daughter?

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When picturing a pastor’s family, one might venture to imagine a real life “Seventh Heaven”. Many times I have been asked why I only have one sibling if my family does not practice birth control (according to their perceptions). Others have approached me wondering how my father could get married, if he is a “Catholic Priest”. Some have assumed my profession will be in the clergy, perhaps a nun or a Sunday school teacher. One exceptionally bold friend questioned if I was a “love child”. These assumptions are products of a skewed perspective of clergy life. My father is a Presbyterian Pastor. He has been happily married to my mother for 21 years, while raising both me and my 14 year old sister. No matter how typical my family appears to be, I cannot escape the fact that I was born into a stereotype.

Starting as early as I can remember, I have attended church. Church quickly became more than a routine. It became a second home, my a pied-à-terre. I made my first friends there. When I was four, I met my first long-term crush. At five, I was watched over in the nursery, always comforted when I inevitably cried. At seven, I learned to sing while in the children’s choir. At ten, I joined the youth group. At thirteen I went through puberty and the harrows of middle school, at which point the youth group became my rock. School became miserable, therefore my solace was found in church dinners, weekend events, youth group, and worship services. Then at fourteen, I was torn away from the church I had grown to love, and plunged into reality.

The first few months of school were awkward and isolating. Immediately my shy demeanor and quiet persona labeled me the “Christian girl”. It didn’t matter to my peers that I was not the only Christian in school; however I might as well have been. This is because my school was primarily Jewish-about 60%- with roughly 20% agnostic. A few Muslims, Hindus, and Christians made up the remaining percentage. With school once again being troubling, I intended to find comfort in my new youth group. The enthusiasm was short lived. The youth group consisted of three other kids: my sister, an outspoken boy with a tendency to become dictatorial, and another boy (who obviously was being forced to be there) did nothing but slouch in his chair while munching on his pizza. I left feeling defeated, as if my one shred of home was being ripped from my fingertips.

I now refer to that entire year as an “adjustment period”. I had to adjust to being social after being painfully shy for nearly 10 years. I had to adjust to being part of a disjointed church. I had to adjust to people being nice to me, while the lack of sincerity in their eyes was prevalent. Back home my church family truly was a family. When someone got married everyone was there. When someone passed away everyone wept. In the new church, no one got along. No one even sat near each other. Two or three rows separated each family in the new congregation. Even the present can be considered an adjustment, because every moment lacks the foundation I had grown accustomed to.

To compensate, I created a new persona for myself. One that had nothing to do with the church directly, but instead focused around friends and school. I plunged myself into my school work and social life, disregarding church obligations for mall trips. Despite the obvious transition, my religion was still postmarked on my forehead. Within my close knit group, I was the one singled out for God jokes and teased about my morality. Yet when a serious question about spirituality arose, I became the be all and end all of knowledge. The hypocrisy often struck me as humorous. Good mannered smiles showed my friend’s true intentions. In the real word, however, no good mannered smiles are returned.

I know that in the real world I will be judged harsher by some people because of my parentage, yet others will overlook it all together. I do not agree with either of these methods. The fact that I am a Christian must be taken into account, yet it should not be a cloud that hovers over me. I’m not entirely sure how other pastors kids (PKs we affectionately call them) deal with the duties that are expected of them. Some, I hear, do become extremely religious. Others take a 180 and revolt against the church and their parents, sometimes in the form of drugs, sometimes in other ways. The only other PK that I have close contact with is a self-declared atheist. She is a strong believer in solid evidence, and because there is no scientific proof of God, He must not exist. Contrary to the stereotypes of Atheism, she has very good morals and an excellent character. She is solid proof that the religion does not always define one’s character.

It is obvious that any PK will have more pressure put upon them by adults to behave in the way society expects a PK to behave, while at the same time more pressure is placed upon them by their peers to rebel. The presence of religion is not a disdainful aspect, yet at times it can feel like a hindrance. I do not believe that religion has negatively affected me, however the reactions from the general population regarding Christianity is acrimonious at times. This problem - the commonplace attitude of stereotyping based on religious views - will continue until society realizes that it is not the stamp of religion that forms a person. Instead, it is the framework of their morality that truly molds their character-whether or not that framework coincides with religious principles.





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PK4evr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 1, 2009 at 7:01 pm
ok, a PK is one of the worst things to be... (hence my screenname.) i totally agree with you- people stereotype and put the pressure on us. it's never been too terrible for me, and it is true- PK's are either really hard-core or they completely revolt. You know what? i'm not sure where i stand- God has worked so many miracles for my family that it is utterly impossible to doubt him- but that's just me. besides, texas is part of the Bible Belt- so i don't really get made fun of. bu... (more »)
 
aj said...
Oct. 25, 2008 at 2:49 am
i too am a pk. have been my whole life, well actually my dads a bishop(in the christian church). ya i get the stereotypes too i know how it feels. only for me the most annoying is when other christians in my class would nag me to back them up when they were trying to cram religion down the throats of the non christian kids. like it was my sole singular duty to convert the souls of every sinner in school. ya they soon found i dont belt out the sinners prayer on demand. i mean i love God and now i... (more »)
 
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