Tuesday

Confessions of a Preacher Kid: Chelsea Stanton



 


 If you don't remember anything else
Remember this...
I believe your storm is over 
I believe your rain is gone away 
I believe you'll make it through it
I believe its already done
- "I believe" James Fortune   


 Lyrics that Chelsea Stanton hums and repeats to keep her grounded in faith in a secular world that is deemed unfit for the child of a Preacher. 

  The common perception of Preacher Kids is that they are symbols of perfection and because of that they are scrutinized to the 9th  degree for everything that they do whether good or bad. Your life is rightfully under the protective watch of your parents, but even more so by people who choose to 'throw stones' at any and everything you do. It is the closest thing to being a royal when you are surrounded by a tight community that looks to your family as a symbol of hopeful perfection. Such a role is a pestering honor when all the children want to do is live their lives. This is the story of Chelsea Stanton and how she broke free from the life of a Preacher Kid.

Chelsea (Right) and Sister (Left)
Photo provided by Chelsea
 Fortunately when Chelsea was growing up all of the scrutiny was coming from the outside and never within the home. Her father led a congregation while her mother ministered to small groups. Being a protective and realistic father, it was consistently reiterated to the congregation that his children are normal and they are going to make mistakes. Although that did not stop the watchful eyes in her town, Chelsea and her sister knew for a fact that their parents never expected perfection from them. As if the eyes and mouths around her were not scrutinizing enough, sometimes outsiders would react to her status negatively. 

"I think my biggest pet peeve would have to be the reaction I received from people when I told them I was a preacher's kid," Chelsea explains, " People would say 'preacher's kids are the worst' or they would tell me I was a 'goody two shoes'. That always created pressure for me. I was expected to be really bad or really good." 
These type of reactions made it harder for Chelsea to go through the normal childhood and teenage conflicts openly. Her parents did their level best to guard Chelsea and her sister from a secular childhood, by monitoring what they listened to, watched, or did outside the home; like most parents do. As she got older their actions made it harder for her to create a balance between a normal childhood and her heightened status. When peer pressure conflicts arose she would easily fall into the 'yes I can do it' trap and ended up ultimately feeling alone amongst friends because of the post-judgment of her actions.  Nevertheless she was always able to turn to her mother in a time of crisis or confusion. Her mother would pray with, but never preach to her so that the issue was always met at a mutual level of understanding. 
"Once I got a firm stance in my relationship with God, peer pressure no longer ruled over my life. I believe that because I am a Preacher's kid, the expectation for me to do well will always be higher. People are always going to expect more of me because of this label. As long as I meet the expectations of God, I don't care what people expect of me," Chelsea stated.

 
Despite the conflicts in her personal and 'preacher kid' life, at the age of 19 Chelsea was able to break free from judgmental eyes and the protective wings of her parents and pursue her dream through going to college in Atlanta, GA. It was not easy to part from her small western North Carolina town and leave her sister behind. However it was her faith that drew her away to start anew. As she grew her life in Atlanta she was consistently bombarded by normal adult life conflicts while still battling the inner conflict of not being good enough. This spiritual battle came from her childhood experiences that made her feel as if she made a mistake she disappointed her parents and worse herself. As she matured and gained more life experience she discovered that if she stayed focused on God, the feeling of not being good enough because of mistakes will not ruin her life. 
On her continuous path of discovery she made friends with people of all different faith backgrounds which strengthened her relationship with God. She values her faith even more because of the enlightenment provided by her interactions with all types of people. It is because of those interactions that she is continuing to pursue a career in criminal justice, so that she may be the spiritual warrior on the battlefield and inside the church. a When asked about her path to fulfill her dream Chelsea opened up about how our dreams and desires are truly God's plan laid out for us. 
"My dream is to raise a family to the best of my ability with the same faith-base I was raised under. I do want to pursue a career in the criminal justice field, but sometimes I believe the path God has chosen for me is ministry...no it's not just because my father is a pastor. I have always been taught as long as I am in God's plan my dreams are His desires for me. Fortunately my dreams were never criticized by outsiders and my parents fully support me in whatever I do. Even when I start to doubt my dreams my Mother always pulls me back on track," Chelsea stated.  
While Chelsea still has the stamp of Preacher's Kid, she wears it proudly in full support of her parents ministry...in her own way.  Meanwhile when the occasion calls for it she is able to have open conversations about faith to show the power of God's grace and word. The perception would be that she is preaching to crowds, but that is not nearly the case. She embraces people for who they are regardless of their backgrounds and simply shares the spirit of God without judgment. Now that she has lived her life under the microscope she is ready to show the world who she really is and offers some final words of advice for parents and children in ministry. 
Photo courtesy of Juana Larena's English Blog

 
"The best advice I could give a preacher's kid is to not give your parents a hard time. They are doing the best they can possibly do, while juggling a family and congregation. I did not come to this realization until I was older and saw how the stress of keeping both happy affected my parents. The best advice I could give Preacher parents is to not expect your children to be perfect. The more pressure you place on them, the more they are going to push back. Let them be children. Just as you weren't perfect, they are not going to be perfect either."
 
 

 


 

 

2 comments:

  1. Interesting post. I was watching the Sheards the other day and its apparent that so much is expected from you being a PK. I think there should be a balance. You have to respect yourself, parents, and be able to live your life as any person should.

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  2. Exactly! Chelsea was bold enough to leave that part of her life behind while only taking the parts essential to her continued success. It's a beautiful transition.

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