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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 20,634,063  

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Question of the Week: 31 - 3/5/2001

Whassa Matter With Kids Today?

Maybe nothing, but you couldn't tell that from the main media news stories or from the often disparaging remarks overheard (overread?) about today's youth in the Pagan newsgroups, message boards and chat rooms. Are the Pagan youth of today nothing but shallow thrill seekers intent on finding some easy spoon-fed answers? Do they come off as spell hungry monsters looking for a quick fix? Are they really unable to delve into the deeper mysteries simply because they are young? "Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way?" Pagan Adults: What trends and tendencies do you see manifesting in the Pagan youth of today? What would you LIKE to see? Pagan Youth: What about the treatment often received by young seekers bugs you the most? Is it justified? Do you feel 'stereotyped' as a young person? Adults AND Youth: What are the benefits and drawbacks of inter-generation communication?

 Reponses:   There are 71 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

Hey Now, I'm 19 And Occasionally Still Consider Myself Part Of The... Mar 8th. at 9:51:56 am EST

Sarah Koz (Chicago, Illinois US) Age: 19 - Email

Hey now, I'm 19 and occasionally still consider myself part of the youth. But it's really about maturity here. There are probably plenty of adults with the spooky-witchy mentality of thirteen-year-olds, and there may be many thirteen-year-olds who find Paganism to be a deep, soothing practice. I think the crazy media hype of Paganism is bound to attract tons of immature folk who just think it's cool to brag about casting spells. Hell, I've seen dumb little books out there, aimed at common working adults, that list spells for finding parking spots or paying the bills on time. Now come on. I know, some people see trash like that as cute and fun, but it's trivial and I think it downplays what Paganism's really about. It's not always the youth here. They just get the most coverage. Like I said, I'm 19 and I sometimes consider myself mature. I have an email buddy that I found through WitchVox, and he's in his 30's and we talk and joke like good friends. It's not always about age here, it's your mindset and everyone else's generalizations. I think it's shallow for older Pagans to turn from the youth.

There Is Nothing Wrong With Kids Today, However There Is Much Wrong... Mar 8th. at 10:06:05 am EST

link nerhkorn (phoenix, Arizona US) Age: 30 - Email

there is nothing wrong with kids today, however there is much wrong with the parents. There is an appalling lack of parental responsibilty in this country in all aspects of child rearing. When it comes to points of faith why ask if todays young people are "spell hungry" or looking for a "quick fix"?Why not be overjoyed that the youth of today are taking an active role in their spiritual lives and considering the wiccan path? While many of us in the wiccan religion had to stumble about in the dark for most of our lives, it is wrong to force our youths to suffer the same. The young have ALWAYS been more able to see the deeper mysteries and it is only by keeping a young mind that we adults are able to. This is relevent even in the christ based religions, where a well used quote "...and a child shall lead them..." is contained. If you see a young person who is trying to "walk the harder path" instead of shaking your head and mentally laughing at all they are mixing up and doing wrong, why not help then along and bring then into the light?

I'm 19, And From My Somewhat Recent Experiences, I Think There Are... Mar 8th. at 10:49:44 am EST

Emerald (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) Age: 19

I'm 19, and from my somewhat recent experiences, I think there are problems with today's youth, because they are expected to handle the world like a mature adult without having been raised to any standards of maturity. Its a pervasive problem, but I haven't seen very much of it in the pagan community, I think for the very reason that most of us have realized that society's ills have no place in our spiritual community. Teenage Pagans don't worry me or bother me, they excite my optimism about the future, they give me reason to think that Colombine and this most recent tragedy in California, and all the copycats, may not be a glimpse into a far worse future for our nation's youth. I became a pagan when I was seventeen myself, and it delights me to see young people in The Craft, I mean, after all, in any more primal a society people begin their spiritual training at a young age. Let's embrace the pagan youth: encourage them, invite them to ritual, train them, lend them advice (especially those who have to remain in the 'broom closet'), lend them spare materials to get them started. We can help our nation's youth choose the right path, and we can start within our own community. We are the fastest growing religion on Earth, so what we do now to lay the moral groundwork has an exponential impact on the future, there may never again come a time when one solitary pagan can have such an impact on the entire movement. Let's shake things up, and let's start with our children.

As Most Of Us Know And Have Experienced, The Teen Years Are... Mar 8th. at 3:52:33 pm EST

Greg (Mesa, Arizona US) Age: 24 - Email

As most of us know and have experienced, the teen years are all about planting seeds for the years to come: relationships, career, education, and yes, religion. Teens should experience, learn, delve into new areas; hell, "adults" should do that, too. If a teen wants to get into the Craft because he/she is a spell hungry monster, then so be it. Either this person will learn some things along the way or find it unfulfilling and drop it altogether. That's part of the journey.

I would like to see a dialogue between the generations to develop, so that we could learn from each other. Instead of "Oh, he/she is too young, " or "I can't talk to that person. She's too old and will spurn me", we need to open the communication doors in order to create a greater level of understanding about the Craft and its practitioners.

Love and light to all!

Whenever Someone Mentions The "troubled" Youth Of Today, I'm Reminded Of A... Mar 8th. at 8:18:05 pm EST

Jade Woulf (Columbia, South Carolina US) Age: 20 - Email

Whenever someone mentions the "troubled" youth of today, I'm reminded of a quote Socrates made in the fifth century B.C.: "Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room;they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their
food and tyrannize their teachers."

The more things change....

I remember when I first started learning about Pagan religions. I was watching an episode of Ricki Lake (Yes, I know what you are thinking, but give me a chance) when I first heard the word "Wicca." I immediately got online and hit the search engines. I was shocked at the loads of information I found. Of course what I found ranged from odd to interesting to downright frightening. I used good judgement to try and find the more "credible" websites. I downloaded tons of information and read and read. After reading for a bit, I found a chat room.

Fortunately for me, my questions were answered with patience, kindness, and most of all understanding. I found out later, that I had one thing in my favor: I asked questions appropriately (well, that and the fact I left Ricki Lake out of it). I did not go into a room and say, "Is Wicca/Paganism a real religion?" or "Do you guys believe in anything?" I asked specific questions related to Paganism regarding the gods, religious symbols, etc. I also let it be known that I had been reading about Wicca and wondered if anyone could reccommend any good books. I wanted to make it clear that I was not just some "angst ridden teen" looking to turn her ex into a toad. I was given great advice and opinions. I was led to books by Scott Cunningham and Silver Ravenwolfe (I later stuck with Cunningham because I felt more comfortable with him).

Even though it was still another year and a half before I decided that Wicca was the path for me, I will be forever grateful to those that helped me out when my spiritual journey started. I understand how easy it is for Pagans in general to get annoyed with the youth who come into chat rooms or online discussions and ask uninformed questions. These are the ones that get labled "wannabes" and are spurned. I agree with one girl who said we should embrace all those curious about the path. If they are in it just for revenge or whatever, they will be sorely disappointed. However, those that are genuinely curious will find out a multitude of information and knowledge.

Not all teens are bad and we should not pass judgement on all teens based on the actions of a small fraction of the population. Well, that's my two cents.

This Is A Fantastic Topic! I'm 53 And Feel That Young People... Mar 9th. at 2:53:58 am EST

Maggie (Montreal, Quebec CA) Age: 53 - Email

This is a fantastic topic! I'm 53 and feel that young people are heavily stereotyped and generally spoon-fed an education in most "developed" countries. I've read half a dozen responses so far and hope that more older folk read what you brilliant young people have written.

I used to work at a local library in Montreal that had maybe a dozen dog-eared copies of books about paganism and "magick". These books were quite old and yet they were ALWAYS sought after by local youth. I suggested that the library get some newer titles and I was told that the youth were always messing up the books so they didn't want to get more! What a terrible excuse. I think the library bosses were displaying their own fears about what Wicca and Paganism really are about, and also stereotyping the young people who were exploring their spirituality ouside of the dominant and "acceptable" world religions. I was there the other day & glad to see that they have a new copy of Wicca for Teens (not sure of exact title), which is a little commercial, but better than some of the other books. (I'm inspired by this message board to go back soon & add some more titles to the Request binder.)

"Spell-hungry monsters" could easlily be used to describe newcomers to Wicca of any age. Besides, we probably come into our current incarnation with various degrees of past experience and conditioning. So age, and even years of "practice", don't automatically mean someone is more or less wise. Becoming our true selves is the main thing, and young people certainly need the support of adults around them to do that. I only have to think back to my enforced Catholic childhood to imagine some of the difficulties of Wiccan & Pagan youth today. I am so happy to see the numerous webpages on the net, and to read about youth being out of the broom closet, especially in the atmosphere of fundamentalism in the world today.

There may very well be an overly commercialized aspect in some areas of our religion, i.e., shops that sell books and then get into too much pariphanalia to pay the overhead. But it's all more complex than that. Being on the "fringe" of society often leaves people financially poorer than the mainstream, and we do have basic needs to meet. Since my own awakening to my Wiccan identity (although I have memories of drawing ancient goddess symbols on my desk in grade 5) ten years ago, I now place more importance on living a green life than I used to on spells. I would still rather read on a message board that teens are exploring earth-based spirituality and doing spells for prosperity, than hear about fundamentalist youth whose goals are to follow the farcical "American Dream", blindly damaging the earth's biosystems, and often hatefully opposing the lovely diversity of people and life here.

If I would like to see anything grow in the future Wiccan community (through its' youth) it would be the exploration and practical application of ways to live economically & cooperatively in a world that is increasingly globalized for profit, not people and the earth. I would also like to see more of a mingling of different age groups in our culture. Popular culture is ageist to the max. What's wierd is that youth is portrayed as desirable, but young people are not given enough support they need as human beings. I would love to share my mistakes and my crone wisdom with more young people. It's not always that easy to get past the cultural divide though. If anyone wants to discuss further, eamil me.

I Just Posted A Long Comment, But Have A Nagging Thought That... Mar 9th. at 3:24:37 am EST

Maggie (Montreal, Quebec CA) Age: 53 - Email

I just posted a long comment, but have a nagging thought that grew after I read more of the posts. Because so many young adults are exploring Wicca while their parents & caregivers are members of the dominant religions, where does that leave them? If an adult outside of the family circle wants to be supportive for them, it could cause resentment, and worse, from the parents. I don't have any answers to this, but think it's worth discussing. At an age when youth are studying frantically to make up for years of conditioning in religions they may have no interest in, they are left to fend for themselves (and each other if they're lucky). I would imagine that there are plenty of adults who would like to be supportive, but may fear the wrath of the parents. Any thoughts on this?

Well You Touched On Many Aspects Of Today's Youth. I Agree With... Mar 9th. at 8:56:52 am EST

Lisa Hendrickson (Bethel, Minnesota US) Age: 40 - Email

Well you touched on many aspects of today's youth. I agree with you that nothing is wrong with today's kids. They are just teenagers trying to deal with the same issues that we had to deal with at their age. They just have different oppertunities and engines of expression then we did. I believe that today must be a tougher world to grow up in. They are bombarded with more mature ideas and expected to be more mature, yet at the same time their rights and freedom are constantly quelched. We all tried to rebel, but in different ways. I don't believe drug use and violence is as prevelant today as it was when I grew, percapita. We had the busing riots. Granted we didn't use guns but we had switchblades, knubchucks, etc. Drug use at school was common plase. I would like to today's and the future's youth given more respect for individuality. The anger that has risen today I believe has it's risen from their. They are expect to act more responsible and be more mature yet are treated with less respect and are being white washed with conformity.

Being A Pagan Parent With A 15 Year Old Pagen Child, I... Mar 9th. at 11:42:44 am EST

Mary Alderman (Wixom, Michigan US) Age: 36 - Email

Being a Pagan parent with a 15 year old pagen child, I find it has been difficult at best to deal with how our community has accepted her. She is very proud of her abilities, and does not wish to hide her own religious faith, but unfortunately, because of this it has been a danger to her. Her years in Junior high school, she was assulted by students and teachers. Yes, her teacher tried to yank her pentacle off of her neck, that was hidden under her tee-shirt. She could not go to the lunchroom without students throwing food and glass bottles at her. Then in Highschool it got worse. The local preacher of a church on the corner down from her school would pull her and her pagen friends out of lunch, with the teens for christ club, and pray over them. It got to the point that my daughter was recieving 2 death threats a day on her school desk or in her locker. After the 5th threat, I pulled her from the school, and officials told me that I was being overprotective. They were only threats, and if my child would just change her apperance all would be well. I took in many of her friends having the same problems, only bigger, because their parents could not understand their search for their religious faith. Of course they were told it was evil and satanistic. There is a real religious fight going on for our kids. I have moved my child 4 states away for her safety, but I am still fighting this same battle. Fortunately, not to the same extent, but the tone is still within the students. I pray for the day that I can find a pagen school for my children. I am pregnant, and very concerned at how my children will be treated in school when they become old enough. I do not want to hide my religious faith from my children for their safety, but I do not know how to explain to my children why the world is so cruel to them. I thought this country was based on the freedom of religion. I am finding that it is only free to the Christians. Even the Jewish are persecuted in schools in this country. I pray everyday for the ability to open the first pagen school for when my children are old enough, and as for my 15 year old daughter, we are seriously considering homeschool for her safety. She unfortunately is a walking target, and I for one am tired of defending my child's right to defend herself. Not only verbally but physically. I pray someday to start a community of our own, so that our children may be reared with an education condusive to their religion, and safely from those who would harrass and threaten. I for one, take the threats seriously. I see that California didn't. My children are not going to be on the next body count.

Personally, What I See Is That These Issues Are Not Only Present... Mar 9th. at 2:22:47 pm EST

Senelsya ShadowWeaver (Fargo, North Dakota US) Age: 25 - Email

Personally, what I see is that these issues are not only present in these
"kids". I can think of no one who didn't exibit the answer-hungry
thrill-seeking. We are a culture (As Americans) who are raised on addictions,
and being spoon fed ethics and religion. The children of today, these up and comers, see this world for what it is: shallow, addicted, selfish and greedy. But they also see the way that it could be based on the adults that support them and show the example, at least on a small scale.
I am fighting for a better Pagan Community in my area and I see the Elders acting as the question depicted the children. The Answer for those troubled and confused Kids is a clearity of our belief and a true and right example, along with a caring and understanding ear. They are us, only without the meanial benfit of age and experience. Who among us did not rebel? Give them time and patience and example and they will not disappoint us.

I Think We've Gotten Too Far Away From Accepting Consequences For Our... Mar 9th. at 2:29:04 pm EST

MythBlade Talismonger (Jackson, Michigan US) Age: 35 - Email

I think we've gotten too far away from accepting consequences for our own behavior. It may be PI of me, but spankings worked when we were kids, and you can't deny we learned right from wrong.

Another point is that there is all too much "blame somebody else" going around. If everything in my life is somebody else's fault, then it becomes easier to take it out (especially violently) on other people.

This Is Probably Going To Be A Long One, But Before I... Mar 9th. at 4:13:52 pm EST

Vivhianna (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario CA) Age: 18 - Email

This is probably going to be a long one, but before I begin my rant, I'd like to say that it's long been my opinion that every generation treats the one that follows it as if there is something inherently wrong in being younger. This isn't meant to be an insult. Far from it, in fact. I have nothing but respect for those who have walked this planet for a longer time than I have, especially those who've learned a few things along the way. But in my reading, and in my personal experience, I've seen that youth is often portrayed as shallow, lazy, dishonest and stupid. Perhaps we are--or perhaps this view is one that's been passed down through many generations like a favourite story or Great-Great-Great-Grandmother's recipe for bread. The details may change but the result is the same. Youth is generally seen in a very unflattering light indeed.
I'm not denying that there are some people of my age and younger that deserve that unflattering reputation. I seem to recall an incident not five days ago when a 16-year-old kid threw a tomato at a school bus. But then, there are several people who I know who are at least thirty years older than I am and who still act as if they were six or seven. Immaturity is not restricted to those below whatever "magic age" is supposed to bring maturity, wisdom, and adulthood. Neither is maturity restricted to that same "magic age"; I have met, and I am friends with, several people of my own age who know how to have fun without causing damage, and who take responsibility for their own actions. Hopefully, I am someone like this, or will eventually be a person of this sort.
I am a "young seeker". My lack of years admits it. I was younger still, when I first began reading about Witches and Pagans at 12 years of age, and I was 14 when I realized that I was beginning to adopt Pagan beliefs as my own. I was 16 (give or take a year or two) when I decided that I would learn more about Pagans in general and Wiccans in particular. I'm 18 now and still very happy with the choice that I have made regarding my religion. In my eyes, my youth does not prevent me from being a valid seeker. If anything, I see it as an advantage of sorts--I've found a path that I intend to stick with for the rest of my life and I didn't have much more than 14 years of prior religious "programming" to adapt or (in the case of some minute details) reject.
I have one question, which may be the point of my entire post here--if there's so much wrong with kids these days, why doesn't someone start doing something about it rather than just sitting around and complaining that we haven't learned how to be responsible? Why doesn't someone try to guide us instead of grumbling that we're hopelessly lost? Why doesn't someone try to teach us how to live our lives right instead of sitting around and moaning that the world is lost because kids these days are "nothing but shallow thrill seekers intent on finding some easy spoon-fed answers"? I've always been told that to change something, you have to actually do something about it rather than just grumble about it to other people. Nobody ever got anywhere just sitting around. Nobody ever learned anything without being taught, either by experience or by another person. I guess that what I'm trying to say here is that if you see that there's a problem with young people today, then perhaps you should try to do something about it. Most kids I know are actually decent human beings (Gasp! What a thought!) and are quite willing to learn--if there were someone who would be willing and patient enough to put up with their inexperience and their sometimes stupid-sounding questions.
We're people, just like you. Dismiss us, and everybody loses. But try to understand us, try to remember what it was like to be young and uncertain of yourself and your place in the world, and hopefully your attitude towards us will be more forgiving. You made many of the same mistakes as we are making now, and you learned many of the same lessons as we are learning now. The world is not a battle between adults and kids, though I'm not denying it seems that way sometimes. But we're not all bad. In most cases we're just trying to figure out where we fit..

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