Nicole Pegram, 21, grew up as the daughter of a United Methodist Minister in Wisconsin. She considers herself mostly from Boscobel, Wisc., because she got to attend school from kindergarten through senior year there. She is currently a junior at Asbury University, where she studies missions and social justice. Read about Nicole’s PK experiences in the Q&A below.
What were the benefits of being raised as the child of a religious leader?
As a kid, everyone knew my parents, because my dad was “Pastor Stan.” He’s a tall guy, 6’5″, and he’s a people- person that moved from one small town to another. It didn’t take long before everyone knew my dad, me, and my family. It was like instant status, and I thought I was cool because everyone knew that my dad was a pastor. As I got older, it was nice always having someone close by that had studied scripture so much. It was convenient for whenever I had theological questions.
What was difficult about being raised as the child of a religious leader?
The biggest difficulty I had was everyone always having their eyes on me. Everyone seemed to not only know me, but know everything about what was going on in my family’s life. Growing up in a small town didn’t help, but being the pastor’s daughter definitely made it worse.
In what ways were you rebellious growing up as a child of a religious leader?
I was actually a really good kid. My parents trusted me, so I really didn’t have to be rebellious. They rarely told me “no” when I asked to go out and do something.
How would you classify your experience growing up as a child of a religious leader?
I loved it. ‘I have the greatest parents in the world!’ said every kid, ever. But seriously, I do. My parents and I have a wonderful relationship.
Did you feel pressure to grow up to be a religious leader yourself?
I definitely had people ask me if I would be a pastor someday, and there were plenty of people who just assumed that I would be. My parents weren’t the ones that pressured me though; it was friends of the family and people in town.
Were you sheltered?
I wasn’t really sheltered at all. My parents had a good balance between allowing me to be exposed to and immersed into the world and everything it has to offer, good and bad, while having their guidance through anything and everything. I knew what kind of expectations they had, and they trusted me to follow their guidance, but I also knew that if I was ever in a bad situation, I could call them up, and they would come get me.
I never had a curfew, I was allowed to go to every party I asked to go to. I could use their cars whenever I wanted to. They trusted me because I was the kid that always told them where I was. I never drank or did drugs. I was a good driver. I had never been grounded.
Did you feel stereotyped as a child of a religious leader?
I got all kinds of stereotypes thrown at me. Some people assumed I was sheltered. Others assumed I was the rebellious type. I was in sixth grade the first time someone called me “slut” and “whore.” I didn’t even know what those words meant yet. I went home and asked my mom, because the guys that said it said it in reference to me being a PK.
I was in seventh grade the first time a guy asked me how many guys I’d been with already. Stuff like that. People were serious. It was stupid. Then there were people who got nit-picky over the way I acted, and said I shouldn’t act that way because I was a PK. One time, I was sitting in youth group and had my feet up on the pew in front of me. A man was sitting in and listening, and in the middle of youth group came up behind me and told me, not anyone else that was doing it, to put my feet down. ‘That’s incredibly disrespectful. You of all people shouldn’t be acting like this in the sanctuary,’ he said. I never let the stereotypes bother me, though.
How has your upbringing influenced your life today?
My family has been involved in missions throughout the United States my entire life, and I’ve always had a heart for that, even as a kid. I told myself for years that I wasn’t going to go into ministry, but, ironically, I’m now going into missions. I think God planned that pretty well, giving me the family that He did. My grandfather, my uncle, my dad, my cousin: they’re all pastors, and many of my other family members are directly involved, or employed, in ministry, so I have plenty of people to contact if I need advice, wisdom, or just someone to bounce ideas off of. I’m glad I grew up in the family that I did.
Is there anything you wish people would know about growing up as a child of a religious leader?
Ditch the stereotypes, please! They’re not accurate anyway.