Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pagan Children in Public

So, recently I went to Pagan Pride Day in Raleigh and was pleasantly surprised at the number of children attending the festival. There seemed to be more this year than last year, and even though I don't particularly want to ever have children... ever... I do think about things from a semi-parental point of view every once in a while. Seeing all of those pagan children made me wonder... do these children deal with being pagan in a public setting, especially in a school setting? In a perfect world, we'd all be able to go to school and talk about whatever deity we worshiped, or what path we followed, etc, etc, but we all know that it's not always possible to do so, because of ignorance encountered by children, teachers, and parents alike who aren't pagan.

I know that not all pagan kids are raised as pagan-- some parents are waiting to let them choose later on in life when they are able to make the decision on their own, but even they must know that their parents are different and are likely to talk about it in school. "My mommy lights incense and stands at her altar and celebrates Mabon!"

How does a parent instruct their child to speak about their or their parents' faith in public settings?

If a parent says, "Don't talk about it" because of safety issues, do they tell the child it's for safety reasons? Does that impact the way the child sees the path their parents are following? (As in, "Oh, it must be a naughty/bad thing, since Daddy says other people might not like it/will get angry/won't understand if I talk about it".)

Older children have a greater capacity to understand why it might not be "okay" to talk about it in some settings, or why they might get the reactions that they do in school/public if they do talk about it, but what about the younger children who don't know that other people might have problems with what is actually not a problem? How do you say it's okay but "not okay" to be what you are?

Or, if you're fine with a child talking about it in public/non-pagan settings, how do you deal with that?

(And I am not in any way saying that it's not okay for a child to be raised pagan or say that they're pagan, or am I advocating that they should be secretive or silent or fearful about saying they are -- but it's not a perfect world, and sometimes, they might have to be.)

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