After the heated discussion that cropped up in Gustav A. Haussler IV's post about forming a Wiccan private school, I wanted to create a dialogue on the argument that overtook the post, an argument about whether or not to raise children in the Wiccan (or any) faith.

I would first like to say that this post is made by someone who does not have children, though I planning on starting a family some time in the future. I hope that makes me a relatively neutral moderator of this discussion. I believe that no one has the right to tell a parent how to raise their child (short of preventing harm or neglect) least of all someone who does not have children herself.

Second, I want there to be no judgements in this discussion about how others have chosen to raise or plan to raise their families. People can share their own experiences growing up, or stories about their own families. But there will be no insults, no vilification, and if you please, no use of the words "shove" and "throat" in the same sentence.

I'd also like to pose a few questions.

Do you believe that you can foster spiritual growth?
Which holidays do you chose to celebrate with your family and why?
How do you create a dialogue about faith in your family?
How do you create a dialogue about
How does one support one's child when he or she shows an interest in another religion?
Would you like there to be more books, games and products geared towards the Pagan family? What would you like to see?

Tags: pagan, parenting

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I read the post three times, i just think she was stating personal opinions, as was i. He asked for that. It's ok for us not to agree on things without everyone getting mad.

i have three children, and let me tell you from the time children start talking, they are very strong willed, and will voice their opinion on everything and everyone.

More importantly, have you thought about how you are going to react if they do not respond to your religion, or even take an interest in it?

When they were growing up, if they asked, i always included them in everything, if they showed no interest that was ok too.

This is such a touchy subject, i fear it will probably start another "heated argument".

Noone has the right to tell someone else how to raise their children, but everyone has a right to a personal opinion.

The things you ask, well when you are a mom they just come natural, depending on the circumstance or environment.

Children learn by watching, listening, observing their parents reactions to the world and everyday life, if they see that you have faith in the worst of times over the years, they will have it too.

Supporting a child who starts to show interest in another religion, ask them if they need books, ask them if they need ride to church, whatever it takes :)

I have always told my children they were "children of the universe" they do not belong to me, i was just the vessel they came thru" blessed be.

I like what you said about them being children of the universe. That's absolutely beautiful.

For my background, my husband and I have one child (and "one and done") who is rapidly approaching the big TWO. Both my husband and I were raised in different forms of Christianity (to different degrees of involvement), and both of us found the Craft in our late teens/early 20s (read: as legal adults). Presently, we have our own home-based Craft practices of pragmatic witchcraft as well as both being active initiates in a traditional witchcraft coven, and between us, we have almost four decades of Craft experience. I hope that gives some idea of the perspective that I'm answering from.

Do you believe that you can foster spiritual growth?

Absolutely! As spiritual people who teach/have taught witchcraft to others for years now, we are certainly able to teach lessons from our personal worldview that assist in spiritual development. As one member of clergy once impressed on me, my goal is to help each and every person become the best (insert name of personal faith/path/religion here) that they can be. As I personally do not believe that pre-pubescent individuals are able to choose a personal faith path wholly, my goal with those under the teen years is to impress the necessity of a code of ethics, a connection to the divine, and respect for spiritual diversity, along with some teachings on core skills that transcend religious boundaries (prayer, meditation, etc.).


Which holidays do you chose to celebrate with your family and why?

Depends on who fits under "family". ;)  With the coven family, we gather for the sabbats and esbats. Our home family also does work for the sabbats and for certain esbats (largely due to scheduling). We gather together with our extended biological families to celebrate secular New Year's, birthdays, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas--all of which are done for the joy of gathering together and for lots of good food and fellowship, not for religious purposes. 

How do you create a dialogue about faith in your family?

For my husband and myself, we spend an insane amount of time discussing matters of our path, because that's what happens when you get two witches in the room together. For our child, matters of faith are a topic that is a bit beyond where she's at, but we have started to teach, in practice, the Tenets of our faith through universal messages--love, home, joy, peace, etc.

How does one support one's child when he or she shows an interest in another religion?

The same way you support them when they pick up a gawdawful fashion habit or start listening to a band that you hate or become a Harry Potter, Twilight, or other fangeek lifestyler--as long as it isn't causing them irreparable harm, you grin and bear it. You might even have to take them to places to get their fix. And, if it becomes something that is more than just the latest passing fad, then you love and support them joyfully for finding something that truly matters to them.

Would you like there to be more books, games and products geared towards the Pagan family? 

No. I think that in the ways that paganism can be taught to children who do not have full mental development yet, there are many secular resources that teach the core principles that would serve them well on any path they choose. Instead of shoving a kid's guide to the sabbats at them, take them outside to explore the seasons hands-on. Don't buy them the Playskool My First Altar playset--show them how your family honors sacred space within the home and let them understand what it is all about. I don't think that a non-consumer-driven faith can be best taught by shoving more product at it. That's how I'm going about it with our kid, at least. But every case is different, every child is different, and every parent is different---and that is a VERY good thing, IMO.

I have raised three kids, who all have kids of their own. I raised them Lutheran Christian, (Sunday School and etc), with an understanding of the basic religion and it's social observances. I believe a basic understanding of Christianity is necessary for kids to fit into the general society of the US. I ended up with one who is Lutheran and observant,but dissatisfied, and who has explored other branches of Christianity, who may be soon ready to ask more about Wicca. One son is agnostic, and the other is loosely Christian, in the sense of observing the social conventions, even though he DID get confirmed as a Lutheran. I always had books and literature around from different religions I was studying, (Comparative religions is one of my avocations), but they had very little interest in any of them, including Christianity as kids. Every kid is different - what interests one will leave another totally bored.
As far as interest in other religions as a kid, when the agnostic son wanted to go the youth group from another church, I encouraged it, because it would give him a different view of Christianity. If you want to raise kids who will be Wiccans as adults, I would say to anyone - don't count on them staying Wiccan, or even being deeply understanding of it. If a kid doesn't have an interest that draws him or her to participate in that religion's rites, then he or she will end up being merely a 'social' member of that religion, no matter what it is.

I believe people are 'called' to Wicca, not raised in it or 'converted' to it by proselytizing. The conscious choice for any religion can't really be made as a child - the brain and experience levels are too lacking in development.

As a Wiccan, I celebrate all of the 'Christian' family holidays with my family and my birth family (which amounts to about 50 people) - but on a secular basis. I and all six of my siblings were raised strict Missouri Synod Lutheran, but as it turned out with us, only one of the seven is still an observant Lutheran. Most are 'social' Lutherans, who may go to church once a year, and seldom bother with taking their kids to Sunday School. The rest are agnostics.

No matter HOW or in what religion you raise your kids, they will, as adults, choose their own brand and level of spirituality. But, I believe even if one chooses NOT to raise their kids as Christians, they should be taught the basics of Christian doctrine, to be able to fit into our society comfortably, understanding the cultural references.

Similarly, if you are Wiccan, by all means teach it to your kids! Those to whom it resonates will stay with it, but one thing that should also be done is to explore other Paths and religions with them as teens, to help prepare them to make a conscious choice of religion for themselves. Not all people are called to be deeply spiritual, and the worst thing a religion can have is members who are there just because someone else expects them to be, and it's easier not to argue! The 'numbers game' of religions is a totally irrelevant idea, IMO. Your religion only matters to YOU, and how many others who nationally (or internationally) 'belong' to the same Faith as you is irrelevant, as well.

You do tend to be able to understand biblical illusions in lit to understand any of the "classics." That is one thing I am thankful for my christian upbringing for. It made English class (and later a degree in English) a whole lot easier.

Yes, Garlic clove, that's a good example of what I mean by the cultural aspect of Christianity. If we don't teach our kids about it, they miss out on some of the commonalities of our culture. I had a Christian friend in an Islamic culture, and she said the same thing about Islam for her kids. They needed to know about it to understand their own culture, and so be able to make a choice when they came to the age of reason. One of her three kids stayed Christian, and the other two became Muslims as older teens. she wasn't upset by their choices - she said they all worshiped the same God anyway...

I taught Vacation Bible School for a while, right up until last summer, despite the fact that had chosen the Wiccan path at that point. Many of the people who normally ran the camp were doing their own things that summer, and though I really wanted to be among them, I felt bad that so many people bailed on her. At first I was not sure I felt comfortable teaching it but then I approached it from two standpoints. The first, was that many of the lessons we taught had values that were applicable to kids of any faith. At one point, we took my group which consisted of 5th grade girls and talked to them about body image issues and the peer pressure they would face going to middle school. The second of course was that they were learning stories that would help them in school further down the line.

Coping with the self and society are basic teachings of all religions, and tend to carry the same basic messages, I have found.

Though I do have an issue with the idea of a pagan or wiccan school, perhaps an idea on this would be a high school that explores religions of all types?? or maybe just including a class that explores them?? This would be a way to foster spiritual growth and though this will break your rules a bit it would prevent "shoving a religion down our kids throats". I have tried to raise my own kids with the belief that there is a higher power of some sort but that they need to ask their own questions and find the answers themselves, never to trust or rely on what someone else says about that power in the universe. You can foster spiritual growth in these ways, encourage the kids to keep a journal of sorts. This can be video, audio or written. You can celebrate any holidays you wish with your children, just be sure that they know it is one of several ways to celebrate life and "universal deity". This is a way to discuss several religions with your children and the differences in them and the way they celebrate the occasion. I for one fully support and encourage my kids to go and investigate other religions, learn, read, ask questions, go to the services, and yes I will go with them to ensure their safety and that they aren't lied to. Perhaps a few books that taught about things like the Sabbats and Esbats, and if a few of the pagan religions were more open to putting their beliefs out for others to learn about. Some groups are extremely difficult to find information on. Also several religions are very closed or secretive about what they really believe which doesn't foster good faith. They keep some information secret that they know and purposely lie about other things to make themselves look better.

BB

Rob

I have 7 children aged 1yr to 16yrs old. I try to educate them on a broad range of beliefs to equip them with enough knowledge to make thier own educated decision on which is right for them and to have respect for others beliefs. They ask me sometimes what religion they are and I tell them I am Pagan but the choice for themself is up to what feels right for them, I don't want them to feel they are expected to believe the same as me if that's not what feels right for them.
Alot of what I've taught them about Wicca I don't consider to be solely for religious purposes, much of it I already had impressed upon me as ways for a healthy mental process from studying Jung so I think even if I wasn't Wiccan I would have taught them these techniques anyway. These things include, visualization techniques (I have a beautiful little book called 'make my dreams come true' aimed at teaching children to use visualization to help cope with stress and improve thier lives in general before I started Wicca), positive thinking and being aware of the power of thought; like the saying 'watch your thoughts, they become words, watch your words, they become actions, watch your actions, they become your destiny!' and meditation.
The rest of what I teach them I base when to teach them things on what I think they are capable of understanding and the questions they ask (and they do ask alot of questions).
My 5 and 7 year olds are mainly only interested in visualization, they have a secret garden (in thier minds) where they can go to spend time with people they miss, swing on the magic swing which fills them with good feelings and happy thoughts or dangle thier feet in the magic river which washes away all bad feelings.
My 11 and 12 year olds both have abilities they want to nurture, my 11yr old has foresight and my 12yr old sees auras, both study my books and online by thier own choice. My 14yr old has no interest so I dont push him and my 16 yr old has recently taken a strong interest since her and her friends experimented with Oujia boards and I explained the dangers involved she now has a great interest in casting circles, rituals and learning about everything to do with Wicca and Diety.
I teach all of them about Karma but am not comfortable with teaching the younger ones about spells etc as I don't think they have the mental capacity to fully understand and respect the Karmatic laws, I could fully imagine them in the midst of a bad mood with someone deciding to cast a spell on them lol!
For about 3 months last year my 10th old at the time turned to Christianity, she went to Sunday school, I took her to church and we prayed together, when they started learning about heaven and hell she told me really wasn't comfortable with it and decided it wasn't right for her, I was very proud of her for wanting to explore and making her own choices in that way.

You sound like you have a bunch of great kids. I was wondering if you knew who wrote "Make My Dreams Come True". It sounds like a great book.

Yes I do.  I got the name of the book wrong too, it's called 'making dreams come true' by Vicki Bennett. 

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