This was originally published Aug 21-22, 2016
I’ve received many replies to the questions that were listed at the bottom of the Pagan Parenting Project: Sharing Our Spiritual Path With Our Children posts, along with some excellent, general advice. My original plan was to weave the advice into another blog but, now I feel that might do some of the replies injustice and would limit the amount of information. Besides, it’s more interesting to read someone’s replies in full context.
Here is the first of the replies, written by Rayne Storm Owner/Illustrator/Designer/creator/author at LUV 2 LRN Publishing:
What advice would you give to these parents?
My advice to parents is that everyday there is at least one moment that can be spent teaching. It doesn’t have to be “school” like, there are other ways to enjoy passing on tidbits of information to children, let them explore and experience something … When we are walking through the garden, I stop to smell a flower or a herb – they tend to stop and smell too. Then I ask them do you know what it is … and what it is good for? I correct them if I need to. But that’s it. I don’t overwhelm them, I make it just a small moment, shared, I teach, and they learn… then I repeat to make sure they haven’t forgotten.
What have you done that’s worked well. What hasn’t worked?
My method of teaching that I feel works best, at least with my two boys is a correction method. We watch movies and shows, and I point out the inaccuracies in the show compared to what is believed. This is especially prevalent when my boys and I watch the marvel avengers cartoons… it is a ritual to watch them all together, every Sunday morning … this has become such a habit that my oldest son (12 years old) gets a kick out of it. He knows that when they are airing shows that involve Thor, Loki, and Odin … I will be there to point out the false information warping newer generations. Like Loki was actually raised by Surt the Black, not Odin. And Thor, of course, is a red-head. Little things like this I feel works the best. No, they probably don’t learn it as fast as other children, but they are enjoying the simplicity of my teaching… as I sneak it in – here and there.
What hasn’t worked?
Trying to get them to do something because I feel it would be good for them. Sometimes they just aren’t in the mood to do a project… not even one that I designed to have fun and teach them something … but you can’t push them into it… if they aren’t interested in the project chances are they aren’t going to learn what you had hoped from it anyways.
Did you start out wanting to share or were you afraid to impose your path onto your kids?
I have been somewhat discreet with my spiritual beliefs because we live in a very Christian area…. but I feel that it is slowly changing. But more importantly, just because we hide what we call ourselves, (be it that someone is Esyr, Pagan, Wiccan, Witch ect.) … there is no reason to hide your morals and values. Everyone should live a life based on love and light, with strong morals and values… no matter their religious title.
Amber R wrote:
I have been practicing witchcraft for 18 years, and I am the mom of an incredibly curious 5-year-old boy.
I was raised Catholic, my ex-husband was raised Presbyterian, but considered himself a Shaman as an adult. I felt very strongly that I wanted my child to learn about as many religions as he could, then he could make his own choice about Religion. Even if that means being an Atheist. I want him to think, and to question, and to find his own answers. Not the path handed to him, because this is what we do.
I have not designed any rituals that specifically includes my son or other children. I did have him participate in the initial cleansing of an apartment. He banged a drum for me. He has seen me do small things; I use crystals and minerals in healing, he knows what mommy’s stones are. He has seen me empower candles for spells; my altar is set up for all the world to see. He knows what it is, but it’s only a surface understanding shop far. I am encouraging his curiosity of nature and plants. We have a small garden this year. I’m fairly certain he can see spirits, but he doesn’t seem to be afraid of them.
This is from Jessica H, Gardnerian
As the parent of an almost-seven-year-old daughter who insists she and several of her friends are witches, I have some thoughts on discretion.
When my daughter was young and in daycare, the daycare provider became involved with a local church and started inquiring about our beliefs. I just said we didn’t really discuss that and avoided the topic, since we were pulling my daughter out of the daycare in a matter of months.
Unfortunately my pentacle was visible once when I picked up my daughter, and it started up the questions again. I was really firm that I wasn’t going to discuss religion, although I said it nicely. “I have a personal rule that I never discuss religion, but thanks for asking.”
My daughter is now in a Waldorf-based school, and the community is very open-minded, so I have not had any confrontations from others.
But – here is one of the other differences between daycare and school – in daycare my daughter was too young to articulate what I am, or for her to really understand. In contrast, now she can discuss my being a Witch and her own choice to be a Witch with other kids who take her seriously.
I thought about teaching her to not talk about it, but secrets get told, and telling a secret can create some guilt or shame. So instead I have focused on a few things that she can talk about:
1. We are good witches. Bad witches are mostly just in stories and fairy tales.
2. Being a witch means you try to be a good person, you have a special relationship with nature, and love is the most important thing we are here to learn and do.
3. Witches can use their powers when they grow up. We do not control others with our powers or use them to cheat. We use our powers to be kind, to heal, to help.
4. Some people may not understand what we are and think we are bad. We don’t have to care what they think. They will think what they want but we know we are good and loving, and that is what matters.
5. Being a witch is our own private business, and we don’t have to talk about it to anyone if we feel uncomfortable. We can stop talking about it by saying “let’s talk about something else,” or “I don’t want to talk about that any more.” Talking about being a witch is something we do with people who respect our beliefs.
6. Everyone can believe what they want, and there are many different gods, religions, and beliefs.
I think I’m lucky that my daughter has a curious and thoughtful nature, so these statements are the result of me answering her questions for the most part. I often ask her “what do you think?” Which helps me gauge how to respond.
So far this has worked pretty well, but I think partly it is because we are in a very open-minded community.
From Julia Maupin, a blogger at Strawberry Moon:
I grew up in a Baptist household; my parents grew up Catholic and Protestant, so the fear of God runs deep in my family. In fact, three generations of Preachers came before my father who felt he was not worthy to share God’s word and chose a different line of work.
I was the youngest of three; my parents were very strict with my brother, so strict in fact that once he turned 18, they forced him to leave to start a career or college. I believe it influenced him to date few and marry young which eventually lead to divorce and his personal struggle with self-acceptance and understanding.
They were a touch more forgiving with my sister who had a wild streak for a year or two while in high school but who has recently forgone everything she learned and has adopted a very…. different way of life now. Very devoted to her God and pursuing His word and adapting that word for her children.
Then there is me; I was a wild child from the beginning. I am 13 years younger than my sister and 16 years younger than my brother. Essentially I grew up as an only child. I hated to conform and despised my mother and how she treated me. Verbally and emotionally abusive but according to her, just doesn’t “sugar-coat things.” I veered from the Christian path at ten years of age, found Wicca at 13 practiced and learned as much as I could and at 21 I re-dedicated myself to my path for the better, to help others and to help form community. I soon after had children, got married and came out of the broom closet. My parents obviously do not agree with the life I’ve chosen. My father is the nicest about it and tries to understand it by rephrasing things into the word of God. My mother just tells me I’m going to hell and I have demons in me.
My brother doesn’t care to my knowledge and my sister… tries to convert me here and there but understands we won’t see eye to eye and that’s okay.
I have three children, a 5-year-old boy, and twins who are 2, boy and girl. I live within 10 minutes of all my family, and I still struggle every day to break away from my biological families teachings, but I’ve never been happier about who I am then today.
What advice would you give to these parents?
Stay true to yourself and your path and find a good supporting community. Either find a community online or in person but having others who share similar beliefs, morals, and ideas as you can really help you feel not so isolated. Sometimes partners do not share out paths which is fine, but it can really make us feel alone when it comes to any problems or issues we may be having.
When it doubt, talk it out. Figure out why something bothers you and where did it come from. Then figure out if it is something you can avoid passing on to your children.
What have you done that’s worked well. What hasn’t worked? Did you start out wanting to share or were you afraid to impose your path onto your kids?
I teach my children about Paganism as it occurs naturally. My children, when of age (10 for our family) will be able to choose which path they want to learn about first, until then they will explore and understand the natural magick of the world. I don’t teach them about Christmas, Santa, Easter Bunny or even the Tooth Fairy. They hear about these things from school, other children or other family members. I teach them about how deep tree roots are, and that grass can speak to other plants using smells and scents. I teach them how the Universe is made of energy and that energy can carry messages to us from other people.
My children do join in for rituals and sabbats they learn about community, giving to others, helping one’s self, personal goals and failures that make us one step closer to success. Every day we see magick, and we don’t have to cast circle for it.
It would also be nice to hear from parents who have questions about raising Pagan kids. What are your questions? Do you have reservations and what are they? What advice have you received?
Every day I feel like my children are being exposed to more and more of the Abrahamic religions. I don’t discourage them, but part of me wants to. I want to be selfish in what I teach to them, but I can’t be if I want them to grow up well-rounded and understanding individuals. My question is… how do you deal with the everyday bombardment of Christs followers?