Being in and around churches and ministry for so long, you learn quickly that people have definite ideas and expectations of what the kids of those who work in ministry should be like. The high school/youth group phase can be especially trying. Whatever ministry role their parents are in, here are a few things these kids want you to know.
Note: all these things are subjective. Some of these things are okay in context. But unfortunately they mostly happen outside of genuine relationships or care, and this is what is most frustrating.
Please don’t share your strongly negative opinion about their parent/s ministry. Way to make things awkward.
Please don’t follow up a comment with ‘but don’t tell your Dad/Mum/parents that!’ That puts them in an uncomfortable position, and it’s usually because you said something without thinking – and now they carry the burden.
Please don’t start off small talk with ‘it must be so hard to be (insert name)’s kid!’ They appreciate you’re trying to connect. But it’s a deeply personal issue and asked out of the context of a relationship, it might be really hard to answer.
Please do respect their privacy. It’s hard enough growing up, making decisions and figuring out life while feeling like there’s a whole audience watching.
Please don’t ask them to fill in for a ministry position just because they are always around. There might be someone else who fits it better (and appreciate the opportunity more).
Please don’t label them as ‘PKs’ or ‘MKs’ (pastor’s kid or missionary’s kid). It implies that all kids of those in ministry are the same or have the same struggles.
Please don’t assume that because their parents are in ministry, they will automatically be Christians. They might be seriously struggling with their faith or they might disagree with their parents or their church on theological issues. Respect their autonomy by giving them space to work these things out – like you would for anyone else in the church.
Please do put in the work to build a genuine relationship. Yes, you know their parents and might have heard some stories about them, but that’s not the same as knowing them or having a relationship with them. You can help them feel less isolated.
Please don’t assume they know who you are (or should know who you are). Even if you have met them once or twice before, don’t be offended if they can’t place you. They probably meet countless people at church every week.
Please don’t use them to get to their parents. Don’t try to impress them, and don’t ask them to share information about their parents. It puts them in a very difficult position (especially if they are still a teenager).
Please don’t play favourites. Don’t give them special treatment, or always pick them out from the crowd.
Please don’t hold them to a higher standard either. Don’t expect better behavior than you would of anyone else their age.