By Diana Bryant
One of the most startling things I contend with is the realization I am no longer a “young mother”! I simply cannot qualify with both children grown and away at college. While I am no longer a young mother, I have a heart for those who are.
Mothers of young children have many things in common, but some things are unique to a pastor’s home. Home and ministry cannot always be separated; they influence each other. How sad to see a pastor’s children grow up to resent the church, uncomfortable with things they have seen and heard. I’m no expert, but I do have some hard-earned observations.
Teach children to love Daddy.
Teach them how special and important their daddy is. One of my favorite things to do when the children were small was to make an event out of Daddy’s homecoming, particularly when he had been out of town. We strung pictures across the living room, blew up balloons, made banners, hung streamers, all to say, “Welcome Home, Daddy; We Missed You!”
This was good for the kids and Daddy. Let them see the love between you and their father. A loving home provides a sense of security and self-esteem for children. Their concept of God as a heavenly Father and the picture of the church as the Bride of Christ is heavily influenced by their experience of home and marriage. Your marriage is the first pattern for their future relationships.
Don’t blame the church for circumstances.
Money may be tight in your home if you are a young pastor’s family, but don’t teach your children that it is the church’s fault. The fact is many young families struggle in the early years. Even if your church provides less than it should, give that problem to God. Teach your children that we trust God to provide our needs, not the church.
If your house is not what you like, work to make it the best you can and be satisfied. Don’t burden your children with the attitude of being shortchanged by the church or of feeling deprived because others have more than the pastor’s family. Some will always have more, some less.
Avoid unreasonable expectations.
Don’t put unreasonable expectations on your children because Daddy is the pastor. If something is right to do, teach them to do it for the sake of right. Teach your children to do the right things, say the right things and be an example to others because they are Christians, not because they are the pastor’s children.
Beware of others’ expectations.
Don’t allow others in the church to put unreasonable expectations on children because Daddy is the pastor. This will depend largely on your attitude. Give children a place of service in the church . . . again, not because Daddy is the pastor, but because all church members need a job.
Recognize the benefits of being in the pastor’s family.
Our children got to hear missionary stories first hand, meet people from around the country, and learned early how to converse with adults. Trips to the national convention can double as vacations if you include fun things on the way to or from the host city. Your children will see more of the country than their friends simply because you attend the annual national meeting.
Learn to be thankful.
If people in the church do things for your children, don’t let the children assume this is their right because Daddy is pastor. Teach them to be grateful for favors, and use it as an opportunity to teach them to be kind to others. Make sure they know how to give as well as receive.
Watch your language.
When conflicts arise at church, resist the urge to speak badly of members in front of your children. They will learn soon enough that some people are not always what they appear to be on Sunday and that even good people have differences of opinion. Model kindness and discretion, and you will see it in your children later.
Love your children.
Love means time, attention, discipline and teaching. Make sure they know they are the most important people in the congregation and you are thankful for them.
It sounds like a cliché, but it is true—children grow up fast! All too soon you will be back where you started—just you and your husband in the parsonage. Live the years with your children at home with the thought that your time to teach, train and be a minute-by-minute example is limited. It’s one of the greatest adventures in life!
About the Writer:Mrs. Diana Bryant is president of Florida Women Active for Christ. She is a member of Ryanwood Fellowship Free Will Baptist Church in Vero Beach, where her husband Randy pastors. Article adapted from Contact Magazine, October 2003.