Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pagan Parenting?

Especially for those on eclectic paths; how much of your faith do you teach, or plan on teaching your children?

Do you teach your children a name by which you call deity, or do you stick with neutral terms regarding deity in hopes that they will end up with *thwap* stories of their own? How do you in light of this teach belief, without falling into the knee jerk "brainwashing" zone.

I say knee jerk because I am teaching my kids the foundations for basic paganism, with a hefty dose of American Witchcraft thrown in. I've gotten mixed reviews on this, some of the more (don't have a good descriptive word...) PAGAN pagans have actually hailed criticism saying that I'm doing to my kids what was done to me. These are the same pagans who see 'no' as a bad word.

I don't really see this as being the case because I don't put consequence on not believing as I believe, nor do I push information that they haven't asked for. I just am not introducing the beliefs of other faiths before they have a solid background in the beliefs of our household culture. I'm not going to expose my kids to any depth of Christianity, or Hinduism, until they have more concrete experience in the spiritual side of our family's beliefs.

The discussions I've had with my son regarding Yule brought about a whole nother set of questions for me. Which if any aspects of my faith do I see someone else having the psychological keys to make effective in their own life. While I understand the technicalities of Tonantzin and local deity, right now, that portion would lead to a lack of clarity. Which parts of my faith are going to be confusing to someone with literally no experience of faith, and not much life experience to separate the possible from the unlikely with.

Telling a four year old that Samhain is a celebration of those who have passed on; is actually a very confusing statement to a four year old, who doesn't have the life experience to be confidant that dead people aren't going to start climbing out of graves and knocking on the door expecting a party.

When your six year old asks you what Christmas is, and why their friends go to a place called church, then it's sort of odd to be trying to sum up a belief that you disagree with, without being disrespectful, and to draw the connections between what we do and what other people do, and then explain why we do things sometimes the same, often differently- in a way that wont alienate him from other friends who seasonally talk a lot about their churches and Sunday school activities.

This group of people believe in this guy Jesus. Most of their celebrations have something to do with him. Ours don't. But you still have to teach a kid that they can't go around telling others who believe differently than their family does that they are wrong. Which is difficult with a 6yo.

To say too much and get too detailed on theory compromises their security in consensual reality. (too much magic talk too soon, or as a substitute for logic and observation) To say too little relegates belief in more than the seen to the playroom, and dress up games. Makes it childish and something to be left behind for adulthood.

I'm trying to teach the sophistication of critical thinking, while leaving room for the innocence and trust of faith.

While I would like to pass on a lot of the charms and superstitions that later I found fed into my belief system, I also feel I have to address the sensibilities of science that have been just as important to me, and have become more important as the years go by.

I guess when it comes down to it, while I know often inane little rhymes are very effective in teaching children, introducing the rose bush to my children as Mrs Rose, and her hips, makes me cringe in a big way.

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