Raising a Pagan Child (Pt. 2) : Trials and Tribulations
Article ID: 14148
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,140
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Author: Patrick McCleary
Posted: October 24th. 2010
Times Viewed: 3,977
When last we talked it was about how my wife and I came to the decision to raise our daughter in Paganism and how we went about beginning that teaching of our faith. Keeping in that same spirit, today I wanted to talk about one of the largest issues that we as Pagan parents face in raising the next generation of Pagans. The fact that we live in a Christian world.
I read a lot of blogs and news and lately I have noticed a trend, especially in Pagan Circles. There has been a lot of talk about a post Christian world. A world where the 'moral majority' is not in charge and does not have the opportunity to set policy for the rest of us. Now while this sounds nice, I think it is still quite a distance off, so like it or not we do still live in a Christian world. And as such, we as Pagan parents, who are striving to teach our children Pagan tenets, beliefs and stories face an uphill battle against our Christian society. The influence of this society is prevalent, evident in our media (news, television shows) , our stores (Christmas vs. Yule - the prevalence of Easter etc.) and even our schools. Not that our schools specifically support a specific religion, but rather that the students within those walls espouse Christianity as a belief system and continually seek to browbeat their religion into our children.
Through my blog I talk to many parents, about this and many other things. But when it comes to this, although they speak of it in different ways, if they have a problem this Christian world is their biggest hurdle. Whether they speak of open hostility, or 'helpful' relatives who seek to 'save' the child by taking them to church.
To start off I wanted to address the issue of a hostile community. I mean face it; we still have prejudiced people alive in the world today. In the end only you, as the parents, know your children and the community in which you live; so you must be the people to make the decision of how to prepare your child for this kind of atmosphere. You could choose to delay mentioning Paganism around or to your child (ren) until you know they are old enough to not tell the world about spells and the Gods and instead focus on teaching them Pagan values, ethics and spirituality without specifically couching it in religious terms. Just remember to not shelter your children too much; they are going to have to learn to deal with this at some point in their life. Wouldn't it be better for them to do it when you can help them?
Now as to those 'helpful' relatives, and yes my family has those, although we are lucky they live half a continent away. But when the issue does arise we started off with polite refusals, and when our daughter was old enough we let them take her to Mass. Making sure to take time afterwards to ask and answer any questions, so as to clear up any misconceptions. I know it takes a lot of bravery to face down ones relatives but if you are going to take the responsibility for your child's spiritual upbringing, it is best to stop this practice early on, rather then later.
Although if by the time you read this article, they are already going to church, by all means do not stop them. Although there are two reasons where my advice would be different than this. First if they are not enjoying it. And second if the church is turning your child (ren) against you, the parent. I was told a story once about a boy who would come home from church very upset and in tears because 'Mommy and Daddy were going to go to Hell'. To me this is, simply put, just plain wrong. And it is irresponsible of the grandparents who were taking the boy to church in the first place, even though they were just trying to be 'helpful.'
One more piece of advice, before I go. And this is advice that my family has taken personally. This is to make the choice to home-school your child (ren) . What is ironic about this piece of advice, is that while Christians home-school their children because of the secularization of the schools, Pagans choose to home-school their children because of the over-abundance of Christianity that is found in many schools.
This decision to home-school is not an easy one to make, for many families. Our world almost demands a two-income household to survive, but we believe that the benefits far outweigh these difficulties in most cases. I understand that I may have to sacrifice that new television or the newer car. I may have to scrimp on expenses but my child comes before all else. Yet this is not the only reason that we have chosen to home-school; we believe that our current school system has failed our children miserably. Take for example the following; Nearly 1 in 3 high school students in the Class of 2006 will not graduate this year, as reported by the Editorial Projects in Education (EDE) Research Center. All of this has convinced us that the best way to give our child a better education without all the brainwashing is for us to do it ourselves.
Although in reality everything I have talked about today is not just a struggle against the overly Christian culture that we find in our world, rather it is also a struggle against the total lack of spirituality in our culture. I know this sounds like a very large dichotomy but look around you at the culture in the western world at large. The churches are failing their congregations and we have generations of children growing up with no real sense of right or wrong.
And even though we may face unique challenges as Pagan parents, I believe that it is our sacred duty to pass some form of spirituality and religion down to our children. With that being said, I can see no reason why that religion cannot just simply be the religion that we choose to follow ourselves. If it is good enough for us, then why not for our children?
Location: Zephyrhills, Florida
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