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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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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.
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| 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!
| 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.
| 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?
| 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.
| A Great Diversity Of Well Thought Out Posts On This Subject - As... ||Mar 8th. at 7:46:17 am EST|
|Skye Cat (Edinburgh, Scotland UK) ||Age: 27 - Email |
A great diversity of well thought out posts on this subject - as usual.
Two points to add:
Firstly, that I believe the Internet to be a great leveller. I know I respond to people according to the level of thought and communication within a response, not according to the age I see on the profile. Profiles can also allow a person to be judged on what they say, not on who they are, what they look like, or how old they are.
Secondly I agree with a sentiment in one of the posts below. There does seem to be a great emphasis put on the number of years behind you as a pagan, rather than on the level of experience and insight. One of the basic insults seems to be to question the age of the person you disagree with. I remember when flamed on this board a few weeks ago - the first thing the attacker did was question my true age.
I've met people on the Net who have claimed to have more than 30 years experience, yet have had very shallow views. I've met people new to paganism with real insight.
A few months actively questioning and experiencing the world can mean far more than many years of comfortable dogma.
P.S. Loved the Cicero quote, whoever it was!
| I Can Think Of Many Occasions Where I Have Been Stereotyped Because... ||Mar 8th. at 7:24:52 am EST|
|Erin Clemens (Morgantown, West Virginia US) ||Age: 20 |
I can think of many occasions where I have been stereotyped because of my youth. It is a sad fact that age is often directly linked with knowledge in the Pagan community. Perhaps this is a byproduct of the (oftentimes)heavy focus on length of practice as an indicator of "validity". While I can see how these factors are correlated (practice can make pretty much near perfect, and more is learned as each day goes by), I think it is very shortsighted and shallow to look to these alone. I don't understand why more Pagans aren't looking at what a person is saying and doing instead of how long they've been doing it.
In a perfect world, knowledge and insight would be accepted no matter what the PHYSICAL appearance of the bearer. However, in our less than utopic world, things like age do make a difference.
Let me share a story of my own:
I have recently started a group in Morgantown. I wanted it to be a connecting place for people interested in an earth-bonded outlook that hadn't found a comfortable "home" yet. I have been practicing alone for an extended amount of time now and am feeling the absence of a magickal community heavily. I had only found 2 or 3 like-minded individuals in my area, so I placed a poster in a privately-owned bookstore I respect. The poster outlined what I wanted for the group, and gave a reference to the philosophy that I follow personally, which I hoped to be the cornerstone of our group. I included no personal information, only my e-mail address. A few weeks went by and we had some responses, one of which was from a "forty-year old eclectic" who was "really interested in what you guys are doing". I wrote back and included my age, in passing. (I'm in college and the other members are around that age, as well.) Needless to say, once the respondent found out how old I was, his interest suddenly evaporated. I wonder, would it have made a difference if I had told him I have been practicing for 8 years? Or would the fact that I'm "only twenty" still have been such an incredible deterrent?
"I can't wait till I turn 30 so I can be given the gift of insight. It's been a real pain stumbling around in the dark for the last 3 decades."
I have been talked down to at various gatherings and have had comments and suggestions patronizingly "tolerated" during group discussions. Perhaps most insulting of all, and most common, I have had older seekers offer unsolicited advice on "a few good books to get you started." I appreciate that they are willing to share what they know, but I feel insulted. Is anybody really listening or are we all only looking?
| As A Pagan Teen That Has Been Practicing Since The Age Of... ||Mar 7th. at 10:21:28 pm EST|
|Espera Pax (St. Pete, Florida US) ||Age: 16 |
As a pagan teen that has been practicing since the age of twelve, I think that I can safely say that there are teens who are "able to delve into the deeper mysteries." That said, there are also those who are investigating this religion for shock value or quick spells to solve all their problems. Teens, just like adults, have different levels of intellectual and emotional maturity, and this is really the determining factor in whether they take this or any other religion seriously. Neither teens nor adults are perfect.
| Teens Are Just Looking For A New Way To Stand Out, And... ||Mar 7th. at 9:36:36 pm EST|
|Blake (Albany, Oregon US) ||Age: 16 |
Teens are just looking for a new way to stand out, and in a very christian world belonging to a religion that is somtimes thought of as evil as is persicuted is very atractive. Also teens naturally struggle for independence and power, magick as the media shows will give them this. Unnfortunnatly paganism and Wicca in particular have become a "phase" that lots of teens go through. As a teen myself I think its horrible that the phrase "teen witch" envokes a slight rolling of my eyes, I mean, I"M A TEEN WITCH! and I'm nothing special. There are plenty of real witchs and pagans that are young, so until pagan religions are understood and repsected be society ant the media I guess I'll just have to live with every once and a while having someone I know come up to my and tell me they want to "learn real magic/curses/hexes/love spells from a warlock" (shudder). oh well, teaching one person what witchcraft and wicca is and isn't is one step in the right direction.
Well There's the pessimists voice.
| Well, If "today's Kids" Are Shallow Thrill Seekers, And Maybe They Are... ||Mar 7th. at 9:19:37 pm EST|
|Anna M. Meadows (New Bern, North Carolina US) ||Age: 39 - Email |
Well, if "today's kids" are shallow thrill seekers, and maybe they are where religious dedication is involved, then the adults who raised them and created the culture in which they were raised are responsible for that. Can we talk about the Law of Threefold Return??
Personally, I've got nothing but good things to say about "kids today, " Pagan or not. I'm 39, and I work with people aged 15 through 22 in a t-shirt/sticker/button company. I see kids who are WAY more intellectually sophisticated than I was until just a few years ago; and socially sophisticated, too (more later). I see far too many kids, also, who have been the victims of narcissistic & unstable parents over the past 20 years.
Two weeks ago I sat in our fulfillment room and overheard two boys counsel a 15 year old girl extensively as to why she should go the police and report her stepfather's abuse (he beat her; when I saw her, she had a black eye; her mother blames her)(I also tried to get her to the local battered women's shelter but she wouldn't go). These young men were articulate, emotionally engaged in the situation, and really dedicated to helping her. I see this all the time. These kids are radically honest with each other; they are a TRIBE, and that (I think) makes them more sophisticated than my gang was 20 years ago.
They're the victims of bad schooling, too. One young man is absolutely brilliant: too brilliant for public school, apparently, since he only made it to the 8th grade. He's not "ADD, " but too many flickering images from cathode ray tubes have done a number on his attention span. Another very sweet young man dropped out in the 10th grade for getting into trouble. If anyone had bothered to uncover the fact that he has a royal bitch of a mother who emotionally abused and blamed him for every misery in her life, perhaps they would not have pinned him with the label "bad kid."
As far as Paganism, yes, a lot are "Goth/Baby Pagans, " but one young woman I know is really a "born-again" Pagan. She is not a bit interested in magic; she just wants to worship the Goddess. Her parents stole her pentagram and flushed it down the trash disposal. Another young woman, 15, has started building a small library of books and tapes on Wicca and metaphysical subjects, as her finance permit. There are others who are quietly going about developing their Pagan spirituality in the face of intense opposition from their parents and the Dominant Paradigm in this small Southern town.
What is most appealing about "teens today" is their tribal spirit, the loyalty they display toward each other. The ones I know don't care if you're gay, straight, bi, uncertain; Pagan, goth, Christian, nothing, or some mixture of everything. They demand honesty from each other & they demand honesty from me and my colleague.
I could talk further about their disgust and cynicism about our current culture, "America-Mart, Inc." but this isn't the forum for that. What these kids crave is honesty, integrity, authority, stability, and someone they can trust (many haven't had a lot of that). If you provide that, there will be a few who stop, listen, and stick around to learn seriously.
| The Question Isn't What's The Matter With Kids Today, It's What's The... ||Mar 7th. at 7:11:30 pm EST|
|Enid Muse (Cleveland, Ohio US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
The question isn't what's the matter with kids today, it's what's the matter with all of us today. The kids today are a product of previous generations. And in many cases, I've seen friends learn from the past and give their kids good tools to live in the world. And that is amazing. Unfortunately, there are also kids, who have not been taught that life is of any value, and they learned that the hard way, by learning that the adults in their young lives, didn't value them. A person can't value and respect the lives of others if they are unable to value the life force that is them. So those of us who have some "tools" need to start passing them along to all kids. Because until we can convince them that they have value, they will notbe able to see value in anyone else.
| Thank The Many And Varied Gods For Fresh Perspective! And It Is... ||Mar 7th. at 6:55:27 pm EST|
|Zelda (S.F. Bay Area, California US) ||Age: 25 |
Thank the many and varied gods for fresh perspective! And it is delightful how many people, young and old agree with each other. I think that our society is VERY age-segregated and to whoever asked if ageism is a word, it is! Paganism is one of the few arenas in which adults and young people work side by side habitually - so the generation gap is constantly bringing up issues.
I work with a lot of teenagers and their parents through a youth organization, and since I am a 20-something with no kids yet - I do a lot of bridgemaking. How us-and-them we can be. i think the neo-pagan community is in a state of transformation and great growth - only through a multi-generation, continuing conversation can we grow.
and I like this quote:
Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.
- Cicero, 106 - 43 BCE
| I Used To Be A Wannabe. I Watched A Few Movies And... ||Mar 7th. at 4:58:53 pm EST|
|Emily (Ozone park, New York US) ||Age: 15 - Email |
I used to be a wannabe. I watched a few movies and got some incredibly stupid
ideas in my head: I wanted to be a "witch". Of course, I thought this meant I
would cast cool spells and get revenge on everyone I disliked. Sooner or later, I realized that being a witch was way different than that. Now, 4 years later, I am learning about different pagan religions for what they really are.
Well, I didn't mean to give my life story here, but what I'm trying to say is that many teens today have been given the wrong message about pagans. However, many of us also come to the realization that calling oneself a witch does not make a witch. This is a message for the wannabes (not too preachy I hope).
As for teens in general, it's simple: we act how we are treated. This is evident everywhere - school, home, etc. If all kids continue being treated like delinquents, then yes, we are going to act like them. This is so easy to recognize, yet no one seems to believe it.
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