Pagan Parenting and School Age Delimmas
Article ID: 11689
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Mandrake WindWillow
Posted: June 17th. 2007
Times Viewed: 6,706
Entering school is both stressful and exciting for children. This is the time that friendships are made, social skills learned and independence from parents earned one step at a time. Is this experience different for Pagan children?
The answer to this question has a lot of variables, such as the school district, area of the country, ethnic/religious makeup, etc. In my experience it is definitely different but not always in a negative way.
Learning about the school’s makeup can be a good way to decide how much preparation you need to provide your child with before setting them loose on the school bus or playground. Most schools will be happy to provide you with ethnic and religious statistics even if they are vague, such as “mostly middle income suburban Caucasian families”. Or simply ask to take a tour of the school and ask about diversity programs that are readily available to the students, faculty and administration and if those are also open to the parents.
If they don’t exist, consider suggesting or volunteer to help start one. Looking into these types of programs can cut footwork later if a problem arises and most administrators would rather deal with a few polite questions during registration or open house than an angry phone call after there has been a problem. Also find out if there are any regulations concerning the wearing of religious jewelry, etc beforehand so there isn’t any embarrassing letters or phone calls from school.
I try and make it a point to send a letter to my children’s teacher the start of every year that explains what our family’s practices are, some of our holidays and contact information in case the teacher has any questions. I’ve always ended up discussing our practices with their teachers at one point and most are curious to get a glimpse into the lives of the child outside school.
Also I try to volunteer when I can to help with things that I’m good with. Chaperoning, Volunteering for Earth day, etc can go a long way to build up good relations with the school, its teachers and it is a lot of fun as well. Plus is helps to focus the emphasis on our similarities and not on our differences, which can make all the difference in the world.
If they offer a day where they discuss holiday traditions offer to assist your child or to present some of your family’s traditions along with the parents of other children that day. Most schools these days encourage the children to learn about other cultures and traditions; this falls nicely into that if the teacher and administration welcome it. But don’t force them into it if its not part of their curriculum, it may not be they don’t want to, these days children are a lot busier in school than we were at their age.
If you are not in an area where there is a good diversity among the student population you may want to consider other activities to involve you child in that will give them a community of their own outside of school, even if it is just at full moon or once a month. Having peers that are similar to themselves is important to keeping them from thinking they are an oddity or an outcast.
Organizations such as Scouting groups, Coven groups or events held by local bookstores geared at families or children might be a place to start, or look online for local Pagan playgroups or home schooling groups, even if you do not home school as a social outlet for your child.
Most Pagan gatherings offer children’s programming and more and more fairy festivals and earth day celebrations are springing up along with Pagan Pride day events. These are all treasure troves of networking opportunities.
It is important to keep the lines of communication open with your children, ask how their day at school was, and listen, that way you can address problems before they are chronic. Get to know the friends they make and encourage them to introduce you to their friend’s parents. If you start early, you can avoid the “embarrassing parent” syndrome that plagues the parents of teenagers.
Even though you may be different than their friend’s parents, it’s still nice to know who they are exposed to, especially when sleepovers and dating becomes part of life.
How do you handle a friendship separated by religious differences? Depending on where the separation is coming from (the parent or the child) it’s generally best to explain to your child that not everyone is as accepting as you may be and to not dislike the person because of it but to continue to be polite to them and maybe there will be a change.
If it is coming from the parents, maybe call them and find out if there is something that can be done and where the problem stems from, people’s minds can’t always be changed but it may be worth your time to try to dispel some myths if they think their children may be in harm by associating with your child.
How do you handle the friends who want to practice with your family even if their family doesn’t approve? That’s a tricky one. You cannot open yourself up to problems by allowing that child to do things their parent wouldn’t approve of, but you may be able to talk to the parent and let them know the child is curious and find out what is ok and what isn’t.
Also invite the parents to join as well. That way it doesn’t look like you are trying to keep something hidden from them that usually cause nothing but problems.
How much do you encourage your child to talk about in school? Depending on how “out of the closet” you are, you may need to discuss discretion with your child or situational discretion. Remember, children don’t always have the filters we adults do, so if it’s not safe to repeat, keep it out of the sound shot of little ears.
I personally have no closet issues, but I live in a relatively progressive diverse area, but I still have taught my kids that not everyone understands our practices and doesn’t need to know every detail of last week’s full moon ritual.
So with a little patience and a lot of communication, you can survive even the toughest parenting nightmare. Schools are there to be a resource not an obstacle, if we learn to work with them; we remain in the ally ranks.
Good luck in your parenting adventures and Goddess Bless.
Location: York, Pennsylvania
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