What do we teach them?

Most pagans don’t proselytise or recruit. Many folk find their way to paganism as part of a process in which they have rejected more rigid faiths. Most pagans dislike authority and dogma. So while people of other faiths seem perfectly at ease teaching their children religion as fact, pagan folk often find this area a minefield.

Raising a child as a pagan denies them freedom of choice and risks plying them with dogma – an abhorrent thought. However, paganism is not just a religion for whipping out at a few key festivals, so how do you handle offspring in a pagan household? Keeping them out seems just as wrong as indoctrinating. I’m going to offer some approaches, and would be delighted to hear how others handle it, so do please leave comments. I think the important thing to focus on is values.

Green ethics. Paganism is nature based spirituality. Teaching children about the natural world, how to respect it, and take care of it is a great way of sharing pagan practise without having to touch on the subject of belief. Whatever they choose to believe, planet centred ethics are a good thing to explore. Teach them about recycling, energy conservation, the importance of re-using. Help them learn to recognise plants and animals. Make them conscious of their own impact and help them make good choices about how they live.

Philosophy. Most children love asking ‘why?’ This creates wonderful opportunities to talk with them about life, the universe and everything. Once they start asking all the big awkward questions, there’s scope to flag up all the things people don’t have answers for. Invite them to think about how they imagine it all works. If they need input, try and offer a range of perspectives – as with life after death. Some people believe in an afterlife, some that you just stop being, others in re-incarnation. Help them explore what makes sense to them.

Rules. I know a lot of parents have rules for their children. My son and I try to have as few as possible, and to discuss what they should be, working them out together rather than my dictating. This helps develop free thinking, individuality and personal discipline. A rule a child has understood and helped create is far more likely to be respected than something forced upon them. It’s about engaging with society, beginning on the family scale, understanding justice, and why rules are sometimes needed. You can help a child develop their own sense of honour this way.

Respect. Now, I think respect should be a core value passed on to all children – respect for themselves, for others, for the planet, for all life. However, being around other people’s children, I don’t get the impression many are taught to consciously explore this issue. Again it’s a good ‘non-belief’ issue that will equip a child for life as a pagan should they go that way and will stand them if they don’t. Self respect makes such a lot of difference, so many adults don’t have it. Show children how you treat yourself with respect. Make it clear when you are treating them with respect, and share treating other life forms with respect. It’s a very powerful process and worth making as overt as you possibly can.

Share the stories. Pre-Christian faiths are rich with folklore. Share the myths with them. If they are drawn to being pagan, this will serve them well, and if they aren’t, then a good store of tales will not harm them. Roman, Greek, Viking and Egyptian mythology is fascinating stuff, for those in Europe. If you’re further afield, look for tales that connect to your land, or your personal heritage. Share the stories of your ancestors, so the child knows who they are. Where you can, share stories of your own pagan experiences. Explain what you do and why, and how it makes you feel. That way they can understand you better. Tell them other stories too, from any other faiths and groups you are aware of, so that they have something to compare their own tales with.

They may choose to be pagans, they may not. Either way, they will be conscious, rooted, informed people, and that will serve them well in life.

8 thoughts on “What do we teach them?”

  1. This is a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing it.
    I have two children of my own and their Dad and I are both Druid. You’ve raised a good point in that raising your children Pagan perhaps isn’t any different than raising them in any religion (at least, that’s what I got out of it). That is a thought that my partner and I have discussed at length. How do we raise our children not to be just like us, but encourage to make their own path while setting a good human example? The suggestions you offered are spot on!

    I think that children are going to pick up the traits and belief systems of their families and environment, that is a given really. I like your suggestion to offer the child different perspectives and encourage them to ask questions and to explore. That is how I was raised (my partner wasn’t), and that is how we raise our children.

    One thing we’ve done is expose our children to as many cultures/beliefs as we can by finding stories and places and people to connect with. It is important to us that our children have a global view and we feel that they will better be able to make personal choices on how they want to live their life when they see and experience diversity.
    We also encourage shared listening, meaning, we listen to each other and validate one another’s voice.

    A Natural Path is a beautiful one for teaching children about respect, we have found the transition from teaching respect for our planet to respect for people to be, well, a natural one for our children. It makes sense to them and they understand why.

    We also believe it important to stress to our children that their life is theirs, that how we, their parents, live our life isn’t how they have to live theirs. We let them know that we are their present guides and examples and they should build upon the basic foundation of what they learn in our family and create their own path. We’ve encourage them as they grow and evolve in their own thinking to share their thoughts, and they have done so and we have learned many beautiful little lessons from them. Their perspectives are fascinating, and oftentimes so very pure.

    Best Wishes ~

    Like

  2. I don’t do a lot of rules in my house either and so far it’s worked for us.

    I don’t raise my kids Pagan either. I teach mine to learn as many religions as they are drawn to—and then decide from there. So, my oldest teen refers to himself as an Atheist. When I asked him why, he said its because “Mom, you said learn for myself and then decide…well I am still learning and haven’t decided.” Which made me PROUD lol.

    Now, my kids know I am Pagan, and when they ask a question I explain. But other than that, I do my thing and they seem to be doing theirs.

    Like

  3. Love this post! We work with the same philosophy. It can be tough when dealing with people who ask them questions about our religion… why don’t they go to church? We are often asked about our religion. They tell us, while overseas, that we should avoid conversations about sensitive subjects like religion, politics, etc. but tell that to the locals! 🙂 We also know that communicating openly with kids is an effective, and MUCH easier for of parenting. If you just tell a kid ‘no’ without a reason, you have to keep repeating it. We tell our kids WHY they should not do something… and they don’t. They’re young, not stupid. Thanks for sharing this!

    Like

  4. When my daughter, age 8, came to me asking about God the father and who was Mother on her own, along with concerns about her big sister being a witch, I asked if she would like to go see what it was all about.

    Now, she has a deep abiding connection to Mother and identifies as pagan herself, at 10. Her brothers have no religious identity.

    Frankly, I see nothing wrong with raising children in your faith. They will always find the path they are meant to walk.

    Like

Please Share or by all means, COMMENT

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s