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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 2815
Age Group: Adult
Posted: June 4th. 2000
KidCraft: Parental Rights and Responsibilities
by Patricia Telesco
There are more and more people who are bringing up children in the Craft. This means that our events are bound to have some children in attendance at least some of the time. This is a wonderful thing, because our children represent a positive future for magickal traditions. On the other hand, children can cause difficulties at events too -- for attendees, parents, and coordinators alike. This article is intended to address some of those problems and make suggestions on potential solutions.
Bringing Children to an Event or Gathering without extra childcare support:
Being the mother of three, I understand all too well the cost of babysitters, but the other attendees of a gathering or lecture are NOT there to help with your kids. Sorry, but children are YOUR responsibility, and that means knowing where older ones are going at all times, and having younger children within eye's range. For one thing, young children have a tendency to disrupt sacred moments simply out of innocent boredom. They can easily get hurt or into things that are dangerous at both indoor and outdoor events (like poison ivy or electrical cords set up for speakers). And while our community is generally "kid friendly" you cannot depend on other people to be as watchful as you.
Similarly with older children, there are always a lot of temptations at gatherings and events. Kids will be kids. Having an on-going awareness of where they are and who they are with decreases potential hazards.
If you cannot in all good conscious follow this simple guideline, don't bring your children to events.
Play areas and Play Times:
Some events have designated play areas that may or may not be monitored. If the area is monitored, ASK if it is ok to leave your children for a short time so that you can have down time to refresh yourself. However, please do keep the amount of time reasonable. Remember that the person at a monitored play area is a volunteer, who is giving up lectures or other activities to help out. If a play area is not monitored, PLEASE don't leave children under the age of 12 here alone. Too much can happen too quickly. Your child's wellbeing is not worth the risk.
As for Play Times, some event coordinators have wonderful people who plan age-appropriate activities for children. I heartily encourage participation in these WITH your children. You are the most important part of a child's spiritual upbringing, and the activity coordinator can certainly use two extra adult hands. If there are several other adults who have already volunteered time and assistance, then simply ask if it's ok to pick up your child when the activity is scheduled to finish. BE ON TIME.
Inappropriate Events and Gatherings?
I have heard complaints from parents and non-parents alike about (a) events that specify no children or (b) children coming to a circle or lecture that's really not appropriate. Let's handle these issues separately.
(a) No Children Events: An event coordinator has to look at the big picture. If someone pays for a lecture, for example, they are going to want to hear the lecture not children crying or whispering. Now, I know of few kids under the age of 12 who really want to sit for 1-2 hours listening to magickal theory and practices! It's just not really viable unless your children are very good at self-entertainment. Thus, the coordinator makes a judgement call that should be honored. Another issue that comes up under this heading is clothing optional events. Children at certain ages get (a) embarrassed by nudity or (b) talk about what they see to teachers and peers. If you do not feel that your child will be comfortable, or that social scrutiny is something you want to endure, don't take your children to these kinds of events.
(b) Children at Inappropriate Events: Returning to the above scenario, let's say there was no specification about not bringing children. Consider: how well behaved are your kids? Will they sit and color or play quietly during an event so as to not disturb other attendees? Do they understand fire safety, athame treatment, and other simple codes of conduct that are important? Answer these kinds of questions HONESTLY, please, for everyone's sake. Remember you're not going to enjoy the event if you have to constantly get up and take your child out of the area.
I cannot tell you how many times I've seen people forget important necessities for children, like juice boxes, portable toys, favorite pillows, homework assignments, snacks, and extra clothing. We get so used to having these things readily on hand at home that we don't always think to pack them for an event. Nonetheless, such items are very important for your child's comfort and your mental state. Consider how many hours or days you will be at this event and how many different activities your child will need to fill that time. Also think about favorite edibles and beverages that can be "rewards" for appropriate behavior (for older children perhaps some spending money is in order). Then, when you arrive at the event, coordinate with other parents who have children of similar ages for play pals. If no such children exist, at least you've still got your emergency play kit packed!
Speaking of emergency kits, bring a small medical kit with you -- you know, the ones with bandages, swabs, bug bite cream and the like. Children are prone to accidents and this way you won't have to run all over the site looking for minor items.
Talk to your children and let them know what to expect from an event (if they're old enough to understand). All too often we just assume that children will adjust, then discover they don't always handle the energy of an event the way we would hope.
Overall, remember that you are part of a community. Your actions and those of your children effect everyone around you and the ambiance of an event. There may be times when you have to give up attendance or some of your time at a gathering so that everyone has the best possible experience.
The Witches' Voice
May 29th., 2000
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