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Author Topic: Pagan Parenting?  (Read 1122 times)

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rainshadow

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Pagan Parenting?
« on: September 01, 2012, 05:16:53 AM »

My husband and I went to a fertility/reproduction seminar tonight as part of our infertility program through a new doctor... somehow, we got on the topic of raising our kids with a spiritual path. To give you a background on how we grew up: He grew up in a strict Christian home, very involved in the church they went to, went on mission trips to Haiti and other places, went to a Christian college his first year... and now he is against "organized" religion, and also doesn't practice or believe anything (I wouldn't call him an Atheist, but I don't know how to define his spiritual beliefs either). I also grew up in a crazy/strict Catholic household (my mother is a bit of a nut, okay... she's the whole tree), but I turned to studying/practicing paganism. He doesn't care that I'm pagan, what have you.

I talked about having a Wiccaning of sorts, when we started having kids. He said no way. He thinks that we shouldn't force any type of religion on our kids and should let them decide for themselves when they are old enough. I (personally) don't think that that's "forcing" religion on someone, but, however, I do see his point and I also want our kids to be educated enough to make their own decision about the spiritual path they follow (if they choose to follow any at all). I would like it if they participated in family rituals (although we don't do those now, it's just me, but I'd like it to be a family thing one day) if they wanted to, I think it would be fun (and I wouldn't be celebrating everything alone). I mean, he's all for supporting what I do, is fine with me practicing, he just wants our kids to be old enough to make their own choices about it. And at what point is that? I mean, I know at a fairly young age, we are going to have to explain to them why we celebrate two versions of almost every holiday (Yule/Christmas, Halloween/Samhain, etc.) because I know his parents are going to not really "push" the Christian issue, but they are going to want to put it out there (they still send us Christmas packages, so I know that's not going to change), and if I'm on speaking terms with my mother by then (we currently have no contact), she's going to push her views as well (if this tells you how "crazy" she is, ever since she found out I'm pagan, she's used it against me every time I've made her mad... an example being the other day, she told my sister that the reason her and I had a falling out over my grandma's funeral arrangements was because I was a devil worshipper... :rolleye: that's a whole different post in itself, but that's the type of things that she does)...

I also don't want to "hide" my beliefs from our kids... and I honestly see his point, as we both had religion shoved down our throats and neither of us were too fond of it (we went different ways obviously when it came to getting away from it)... I'm all for letting them decide for themselves. What about when I'm the single parent every time he deploys and goes somewhere due to his job? I'm not going to not leave our kids out of/away from rituals (especially if they are young enough that they need to be in eye sight constantly). I mean, they are going to be exposed to it regardless. I hated religion when I was a kid, holidays were always stiff and boring, and I think paganism is a "fun" spiritual path and has a way of bringing out creativity, etc. Why would I not want our children to experience that? I realize it all boils down to choice, and he wants them to have that choice, and I also want them to choose freely. I guess I'm just not seeing the harm in letting them practice with me if they wanted (how do you tell a five year old (example) "no" if he wants to bake Mabon cookies with you or be in the circle when your doing your ritual?) or having them with me when they are young? I also don't see the harm in a Wiccaning if we chose to do it, but he thinks it's automatically choosing for them, and that's not the case. I was baptized Catholic and I didn't turn out that way.

So what do you do when you and your SO share different religious/spiritual beliefs and can't agree to parenting spiritually? I'm not going to push the issue, I'm sure it will all work itself out, but I don't know how else to explain to him that them practicing if they wanted to isn't going to hurt anything or be a bother when they are young, if that makes sense?

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thegeekwitch

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Re: Pagan Parenting?
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2012, 06:56:59 AM »

I didn't believe in 'pushing' my religion on my children at all because I figured they'd find their own way like I did.

However, I recently listened to a podcast episode by T. Thorn Coyle, who said (and I now agree with her) that if we don't at least introduce our children to our spiritual practices, they will then grow up without spiritual or religious context and are likely to not find spirituality or religion at all.

I find comfort in my own beliefs and would love for my child to feel similarly comfortable, whatever the path she chooses.

My husband and I haven't *really* had the discussion - he doesn't want religion pushed on our children (I don't like the term 'pushed' - I prefer 'gently persuaded'!) and I'd like to introduce them to it, but then again I don't want him pushing his football team on our children and he can't see any problem with that :P
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Re: Pagan Parenting?
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 07:18:36 AM »

My daughter is now 13. She knows Mom and Dad are Pagan, Grammie is Catholic, Gran and Grandad and Auntie are CoE....

Your husband may not agree with what he grew up with, but if he truly wants his children to make INFORMED choices in their lives, he needs to let them be exposed to other beliefs.The Kidling has been a part of the simple Full Moon rituals we've had as a family. She still on occasion attends mass with Grammie. She knows one of my favorite customers is Jewish, and that when the major Jewish holidays roll around, I greet my Little Jewish Pixie in the name of those holidays. Now she is older, we can discuss the meanings behind them....Pagan, Christian and Jewish.

A wiccaning is just an introduction/naming. A rite of passage to mark the birth of your child and welcome them into the family/community. I do agree if you don't raise your child with SOME sort of spiritual guidelines, then they probably won't develop one on their own with any great ease. Sorta like them becoming an engineer or doctor without ever having taken math or science.
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dragonspring

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Re: Pagan Parenting?
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 08:07:03 AM »

I have seen both sides of this issue.  I know parents whose children do not know that their parent(s) are Pagan and I know parents who involve their children deeply in their religious practices.  I believe it is parents' right and responsibility to determine how and when spirituality is brought into the life of their children, but I will share my personal beliefs on this issue.

I do not think a parent should have to hide their religious beliefs from their children - nor do I think it is possible to do so if the parents' spiritual practices are practiced openly and freely.  When a child is of a certain age, they will surely question why mommy lights candles and incense, plays with herbs and crystals, looks at the Moon, etc.  In those instances, I believe in honesty.  If I lie to my child about spirituality or anything else, it is only a matter of time before they realize it and their trust is compromised. 

I also think that telling fairy tales and reading children's books based on spiritual beliefs is advisable - it is part of a parents responsibility to instill values into their children and stories are part of that process.  I think it is good to expose children to stories from different belief systems and to expose them to different cultures as well.

On the other hand, I do not think children should be involved directly in spiritual practices until they reach an age of discrimination and can choose to participate or not.  In a perfect world, I would not have children in the circle, especially at Beltane and Samhain.  But the world is less than perfect, so children of pagans will likely be in contact with ritual practices.  A child passing in and out of their parent's circle is not the same as a child helping to raise the circle or playing a part in the ritual.  I absolutely do not think that any person lacking emotional maturity should be in a coven, be dedicated or initiated, or act as priestess or priest.

On Wiccaning, I would say that it depends on what you are planning to do in the ritual.  If you are planning to dedicate the child to the service of the Gods, that is making a choice for them.  However, it is to be expected that a parent would ask for the Gods' blessings and protection for something they hold so dear.  It would also be a good time for both parents to make a pledge to the child.  I am not sure why any parent would have a problem with that. 
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earthmuffin

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Re: Pagan Parenting?
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 11:22:29 AM »

I didn't believe in 'pushing' my religion on my children at all because I figured they'd find their own way like I did.

However, I recently listened to a podcast episode by T. Thorn Coyle, who said (and I now agree with her) that if we don't at least introduce our children to our spiritual practices, they will then grow up without spiritual or religious context and are likely to not find spirituality or religion at all.


I disagree with Coyle. I think it is virtually impossible to grow up without a spiritual or religious context even if your parents are atheists and your family doesn't attend any church. First, religion and spirituality are two entirely different things. I think you can guide your children toward finding their spirituality without engaging them in any sort of religion, and if you don't, they will likely find their own in their own time if they need it. (See below).

Second, I think kids will be exposed to religion (probably mostly Christian forms if you live in America) in various ways through their friends, peers, and general society whether not any religion is practiced at home. I grew up without religion at home and still had many influences that made me think about religion as a child and question whether I wanted to be a part of one. My parents didn't encourage me to explore but they didn't prohibit it either. My upbringing is an example of raising your kids without religion and not forcing any religious viewpoint upon them. IMO, if you raise your child as an atheist, that's just like raising them to be a member of any other religion (South Park did a funny episode in which parents were raising their kids to be agnostic); your are raising them to believe a certain viewpoint and that is very different from raising them without any specific religious belief. However, they will still be exposed to other viewpoints as they mature and may reject anything they were raised with as children, as many of the members here have done.

Your hubby obviously has some strong opinions about organized religion that sound like they may be based on fear that exposure to any type of religious practice will cause your children to feel like it is being forced upon them. I would try to sort that out and see if he's OK with exposure at all in the home. Some people choose to actively expose their kids to various religions, so while they may have them present during their own pagan circles, they might also send them off to church with a Christian relative or friend, take them to a Buddhist retreat, etc.-- so as to teach them there are many religions and they are free to choose one other than that of their parents. There are also those who, while not engaging their children in any religious practices, focus on guiding their children toward their own spirituality. I think you do that from a pagan perspective by teaching ideas of respecting the earth and its dynamic nature, celebrating the seasons, celebrating the cycles of life and death, teaching respect for others, etc. Again, if you do not wish to force a view point upon them, when you discuss it, it is a discussion not preaching. You speak about why you have your beliefs with the acknowledgement that they are yours alone, that there are many others with different beliefs, and that your child has the right to disagree with you and to choose his/her own beliefs. You also discuss your and your husband's upbringings and their effects on both of you. In this way you are guiding and not forcing any beliefs. In all likelihood, your child will emulate you because you are the expert and infallible in their eyes until they reach an age of independence, but they will be less likely to have any negative feelings that they were being forced to believe or participate in something they did not choose.


« Last Edit: September 01, 2012, 11:25:30 AM by earthmuffin »
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Fox

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Re: Pagan Parenting?
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2012, 11:58:41 AM »

I grew up without any kind of foundation for religion or spirituality other than the little bits and pieces I heard about my grandparents being JW.  It left me feeling really out of sorts and confused as I grew up and I felt as though religion of any kind was kind of a taboo thing.  It even made me angry at my mother because she (supposedly) is Baptist and believes that the only way to "save" a person's soul and get into heaven is by being baptized, but she never did that for us on the basis that she didn't want religion forced down our throats like she had it growing up and having to go to church umpteen times a week.  I understand her perspective, but I also kind of felt like she didn't love me enough to protect me when I was too young to be able to make a decision for myself.  It is something that I still have some conflicting emotions about and I'm nearly 40.

I do think that kids need to be able to make decisions for themselves about both religion and spirituality, but I also feel like they are not equipped to make those kinds of decisions without any kind of knowledge about the choices available to them.  I do not push my beliefs on my kids, but both Hubby and I (while similar are still very different in our views) do our best to teach them what we know about various different paths and people's perspectives on those paths along with how we personally view each of those.  We try to teach them that just because it may not be for us, doesn't make it wrong, just different.  Our goal is to teach them to be open minded enough to be able to decide for themselves what feels best to them.  It isn't easy because no matter what conversation we have, there will be some level of bias involved, but at least they have a starting point and maybe won't feel quite so lost as they grow.
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Re: Pagan Parenting?
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2012, 01:03:33 AM »

My hubby was raised with no religion in the home ... and no one to guide him in spiritual growth.  His dad was raised Southern Baptist by fundamentalist parents and was rabidly against any religion.  He also (incorrectly) never made any distinction between religion and spirituality (a common mistake many make) so hubby is now (at 60) having issues with any spirituality because the distinction was never made and he's still got buried childhood fears of parental disapproval for even thinking about the subject.

I agree that exposure to religion and the practices associated with a number of them is essential if you choose to allow the children to eventually make their own decisions on religion.  But your hubby needs to understand that 1) exposure isn't active practice or indoctrination and 2) any religion bashing (by either parent) will have a detrimental effect on any children you're raising.
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vordan

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Re: Pagan Parenting?
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2012, 01:21:30 AM »

As a compromise, I simply taught my son that God is everywhere and that as expressions of God all things living are to be treated with respect. I never made him go to church but he did attend a few rituals with me. He is a rationalist currently who believes in God. I felt some spirituality was important to bestow on him, I had him touch trees and asked him if he could feel the life within the tree when he was little to reinforce that reverence for all things living. He loves my tarot readings which is about as pagan as he gets.
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Re: Pagan Parenting?
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2012, 11:29:33 AM »

As a compromise, I simply taught my son that God is everywhere and that as expressions of God all things living are to be treated with respect.

I think that is a great way to approach it.
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