Our Family is Different
Article ID: 15445
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,047
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Author: Jessica Marie Baumgartner
Posted: July 14th. 2013
Times Viewed: 4,691
It’s a talk that many Wiccan and Pagan families find themselves having. Some dread it; some accept it as just another part of the faith. But regardless there is much that Pagan parents have to teach their children in order to educate them about not only faith but also how different faiths are portrayed and accepted in society. Having two young daughters myself, I want to teach my girls to take pride in our beliefs while accepting that religion is a very personal thing, in addition to working to break negative stereotypes in order to help Wiccans and Pagans alike find our footing in society.
So how does one teach a young eager soul to love his/her faith while not advertising it to just anyone? It can be challenging and somewhat conflicting at times. I love being a Wiccan and have no issue talking to anyone about my beliefs but there is a time and a place for everything. There have been past instances in which I was ostracized for being a “devil worshiping evil witch. ” Obviously the person I was speaking with had no clue as to what I truly believed. It is those kinds of painful attacks that I hope my children will be able to avoid.
In more recent years, I have found that many people will listen and absorb the truth of my very loving, nurturing, faith once they know me and understand how spiritual I am. My three-year-old loves being a witch, and enjoys talking to me about how fun it is that she, mommy, and her sister are witches. I always laugh and tell her that I love being a Wiccan too but that not a lot of people are and there are some people out there who don’t like us because they don’t understand us. When she grimaces at the thought of someone not liking her, I tell my daughter that this is why it is ever more important for us to be the best good witches that we can be and show people how nice we really are.
Teaching discretion alongside education has been one of the most valuable tools that I have found. Children need to understand that talking about religion is a good thing to do, but just as parents advise their young ones to be weary of strangers, they should also be put on their guard about the depths of religion and its history of complications. In recent years, I have had more positive discussions about my faith with strangers who want to learn about Wiccans and Pagans in general.
My daughter likes comparing us to Glenda the Good Witch from “The Wizard of Oz.” I never really connected much to that movie until I had daughters, but with all of the negative Hollywood portrayals like that of Theodora in the same film, Glenda is one great pop culture credit to many Pagans. The fact that my sweet little girl is relating to positive portrayals of witches in the media proves to me that this is truly the best time to be a Wiccan. I myself fall into the ever-popular group that enjoys pointing out to naysayers that the fairy godmothers in most fairy tales are nothing more than white witches. Especially in the Disney movie portrayals: I mean wands, cloaks, and spell work… come on. All that’s really missing is mention of the Gods and an altar.
I find these connections very good teaching tools for raising young Wiccans and helping them to find their identity in society. Humor is also very helpful with my family; my daughter wants to dress up as Dorothy for Halloween. Of course, she automatically decided that I should be the Wicked Witch of the West, a role that I will be happy to take on as a joke. Especially being that the baby will be Glenda. At first, I feared stereotypes and playing along with societal prejudices, but life is not a political statement. If my daughter loves being a Wiccan as much as I do and thinks that my dressing up like an evil, green witch, dressed in black will be funny then I shouldn't worry about it.
Sometimes I think that by worrying about the underlying issues that come from a history of having to hide or be harmed, we sabotage ourselves and place way too much value on symbols that hold no value for the younger much more enlightened generations (who are finding the world to be much more accepting than some of us are used to) . At least here in the U.S., when Wiccans alone have grown to roughly three hundred and sixty five million (according to the U.S. Census Bureau) , times are a’ changing.
Regardless, as a parent, I know that how I represent my faith and how it is seen by others affects my children immensely. I often wonder how they will fit into society while being individuals at the same time. Wiccans may be increasing in numbers but we are still quite a minority. This is why, although I try to teach my children, that we do not advertise our faith because religion and spirituality are very personal aspects of life. I am also working to emphasize that once we really get to know someone and connect with them that conversations about faith and beliefs are not only inevitable but also empowering.
I recently submitted an article for Parenting Magazine titled “5 Reasons Why My Wiccan Family is Just Like Yours”. It may be a shot in the dark; who knows? My hope is that if the article is accepted, more barriers will be broken as parents of other faiths read about the similarities that we share with their own families. In all honesty, I don’t care if my family is different from every other in the world. I love my home life. But I understand that my children are just starting their journey and that begins with my husband and me. Wiccan parents can teach their children to take pride in their beliefs while still being cautious as they help to break negative stereotypes by working to find their place in society. Sure the “Our family is different” talk can be emotional, but it can lead to some very good revelations.
Jessica Marie Baumgartner
Location: Saint Louis, Missouri
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