As I parked and walked my 6 year old son into his school during the week, I saw one of the people who lived opposite the school dashing out of her driveway, with a stressed look on her face as if she was running late for something. It got me thinking about what it would be like to live on the same street as a school, where everyone who came that way to drop their kids off could see your house, your garden, your car, and if something dramatic went on just outside of your ‘four walls’, everyone could potentially see and hear it. I wonder how those people feel, knowing that people might be looking at, talking about, judging, criticising or whatever their house, garden, car, etc. It made me think that at times, it could be like living in a fish bowl.
Then the penny dropped.
I have lived most of my life feeling like I was living in a fish bowl.
Anyone who has a parent who works in a highly visible position, where their lives are on display will know what I’m talking about. This probably includes those who have parents who work in government, are teachers, in the police force, the list could go on. But for me, I’m a Pastor’s Kid (PK). My Dad was in training College when I was born, then after that he did an internship type thing before becoming an Anglican Vicar (aka Christian Church Senior Pastor). He is still a Pastor.
There are many positive aspects to growing up in the house of a Pastor, but as with anything, there can be downsides too. One of those is that you can feel like you’re living in a fish bowl. You can feel exposed and like everyone is watching your every move, scrutinising your every word and action. You can get looks, you can get hassled at school (& kids can be nasty), you can miss out on having close friends, there is an unwritten expectation that your thoughts and behaviour have to be perfect, that you should be setting an example for all the other kids in your church, and if you don’t live up to said expectations, your parents will find out because joined to those many watching eyes are talking mouths.
One of the books I read on this topic and can highly recommend anyone read, especially Pastors & their kids is ‘The Pastor’s Kid’ by Barnabas Piper. He talks to a number of PK’s about their experiences and including his own experience, paints a picture of what it’s like for PK’s in general.
If you’re a PK, get in touch with me, I’d love to hear your experiences of growing up as a PK!