It is no news that in most African cultures, children are seen as an extension of parents. This is such that children are expected to follow their parents and be a conduit through which parents can live out their failed dreams and fantasies.
Now what happens when that child is a woman and when that parent is a pastor, deacon or bishop? A lot of stereotypes follow women who are pastor’s kids and especially if these women deviate from what is seen as “godly”.
Stereotypes often steeped in sexist beliefs about what women should and should not do. But how do these women themselves feel?
Urban Woman recently spoke to seven women who grew up as pastor’s kids and they shared the highs and lows of being a “PK”.
Sigh. It’s a life I wouldn’t recommend.
People expect holiness and perfection. I have none of that to offer anybody.
The pressure is crazy.
Everyone expects you to be a saint and totally forget you’re human like them. The amount of perfection they expect from us is so insane.
And Nigerian churches<<<<<<
Like in my church, if I get pregnant outside of wedlock my dad will be expected to step down if he holds a big position. The thinking is that if he couldn’t “train” his child right, how can he lead people to God?
Also there’s this belief that pastors’ children are “spoilt”.
I’d agree with it in the sense that we grow up so choked up, any small freedom we’re eager for and it might lead to some not so great choices.
But regular children go through it too, so it’s very irritating when I tell someone I’m a PK and they’re like that explains why you’re spoiled🥴.
You find out that Nigerian pastors are more pastors to their kids than parents. The PK’s you see that turn out “right” and don’t make as many mistakes are mostly those that their parents have been able to treat them like human beings growing up. Those whose parents allowed them to make their mistakes but gently nudged them in God’s direction. Not the shove it down the throat version.
I was born in Deeper life. I grew up in MFM.
I went the complete opposite way as soon as I gained independence. They will use the Christianity of hypocrisy as a weight around your neck and choke you to death if you let them.
As a pastor’s child and a first child daughter I can tell you it’s crazyyyyy. The pressure is not only very much from my dad who’s a pastor but the church members. These people will not allow you breath.
It wasn’t so bad growing up as a pastor’s kid at first; I liked being able to say I was one, there was this admiring way people would look at you after you said that and I liked it.
It became exhausting at some point though. My dad’s church was always stuck in that ‘growing phase’ and having to lead praise and worship every service to a practically empty church started to become embarrassing. There was also the way my dad kept pumping so much money into the church when the family was struggling and when we complained he’d say the church pays our school fees and all.
It was hard to get into his vision and at some point, my sister and I started wondering why we were still running the church when it wasn’t growing. I remember being stuck at home during the Covid period and having to do morning devotion, then Bible study that could last like four hours and evening prayers every single day. Sometimes we’d still have vigils, the whole thing was exhausting.
I’m not that much of an adventurous person, was not a difficult child at all but somehow I was still hearing complaints about things other kids were allowed to do but I couldn’t because I was a pastor’s child. Like I couldn’t wear trousers, fancy earrings, use attachments and all of that. All through university, I was expected to come home every weekend so I could lead choir practice on Saturday and lead the choir again on Sunday and I did not like it at all.
Yes, pastor’s daughters are stereotyped in a sexist manner. Once we grow up and enter university, we want to express ourselves but then people see us wearing things we didn’t wear at home and start the ‘are you not a pastor’s daughter’ thing. It’s not rebellion, we just grew up and people need to understand that.
I think the solution would be to get to know the pastor’s daughters as individuals. People should stop placing unrealistic expectations on them and be more understanding.
I grew up as a pastor’s kid and see it iss not easy at all. It’s hard and comes with a lot of bullying. That’s just what I would describe what I experienced…bullying. So I’ve talked about how I am very very extroverted and that’s not something church people like. Several times I have been scolded for talking too much. ‘Oh don’t talk too much don’t do this you’re supposed to be a certain way’. There is a certain way people expect the pastor’s kid to be like and if you are not in that way that they expect you to be, it becomes an issue like a big issue.
For example, there’s a day I wore a sleeveless dress to church. That is something that people were in my church a lot. They were sleeveless dresses to church, and then this woman came to me and came to meet my mom and she was like you are not supposed to wear this dress. People do not care that you are a child and they heap all these expectations on you.
I am nine and you are expecting me to be a good example to children when all I want to do is watch Nickelodeon and play. Can you be for real? I could literally be doing a very very kid-like thing and then you’re like you are not supposed to be that way. People forget that all this is just a normal way children act, like teenagers act but it does not apply to the pastor’s kid. They don’t give grace to the pastor’s kid. You are always living in scrutiny of people.
So I wasn’t expecting the above to happen again as I am very extroverted. That’s something everybody knows; like I’m such a social butterfly. But this is something that again church people do not expect you to be as a pastor’s kid. Somebody met my mom in church one time to say your daughter talks and she isn’t supposed to be that way and my mom looked at her and was like oh she’s an extra, but how else do you expect her to be?
Another thing happened again. So in one service, the pew was filled up and there was no space for her kids to sit and she was like move move and I was like ‘Oh ma there is no space here’ and this woman just lost it in the service and began yelling “That’s how you are that’s how you behave, you do whatever you like, you will ruin your father’s ministry blah blah blah blah blah”.
I think they also expect you to bend to the will of people. They expect you to do whatever pleases them because I don’t know. Maybe somehow they think that they are responsible for your life or something or they believe that the pastor’s kid belongs to the community so we can just train her communally.
I think part of the reason I don’t like confrontations is this. Also why I struggled for years accepting that I’m a talkative. I still barely tell people my dad is a pastor because I don’t want any expectations. I still don’t know how to say no because somehow to avoid church people’s wahala I did what will not make them disturb me. It hurt my relationship with the church greatly that when I entered the university, I didn’t want to be a part of it. Got to a point that almost every Sunday I was crying because someone said something really harsh to a CHILD by the way, a CHILD.
I also think they were kinda sexist because they never bothered my brother. They probably had expectations of him but they didn’t really burden him with the expectations they had for me. My brother barely has bad experiences with being a pastor’s kid.
Also I learnt later that nothing you do for church people would ever be enough. I have slowly learnt to not care but honestly I wish I didn’t grow up as a pastor’s kid. It would have been so much better.
When I tell people I’m a pastor’s kid they start thinking I’m promiscuous or something. Because there is this running belief that pastor’s kids become waywards or whatever. People have told me that to my face severally. Like it’s crazy.
*Name changed to protect identity
Angel Nduka-Nwosu is a writer, journalist and editor. She moonlights occasionally as a podcaster on As Angel Was Sayin’. Catch her on all socials @asangelwassayin.