US society in general holds puritan moral values on issues such as sex, women’s roles, humanity’s place in the universal scheme of things, money and authority. Pagan parents who choose to teach their children Pagan values and mores often find themselves attacked or censored unfairly or perceived as immoral. It is difficult enough raising a child without having to battle the inhibitions of your neighbors or watch your children retreat from you and your beliefs in order to fit in with their school mates.
Feeling connected socially is important to all of us. Consider your own issues with social acceptance. How supported do you feel and what are you doing to satisfy your needs for community? Now, apply the same questions to your children’s issues, keep in mind that children don’t have access to the same resources or personal insight and understanding that you have. Do your children socialize with other Pagan kids? If not, are you able to provide them with the opportunity to do so? Do they know any other children who are being brought up Pagan or have a Pagan parent?
It is impossible to prevent your children from feeling different. Every child experiences insecurity and feelings of being outside “the group,” even the children who are popular. However, connecting with other Pagan children could help your child feel better, providing them a link to a religious or spiritual community.
It is possible to help your children by becoming more involved in the pagan community yourself.
There are many Pagan festivals, with camping and workshops, where kids are welcomed and provided with activities. Attending a festival as a family, would offer them a community as well as the benefit of seeing other kids being sage-d or drummed and dancing openly and proudly around the Circle fire.
So, what do you do if your child doesn’t want to meet other pagans or come with you to events? Easy, you do not ask them, you just bring them. You are the parent.
Kids are kids; they are not going to willingly face experiences or lessons which make them uncomfortable unless there are consequences they understand. They will choose the easy road, the path of least resistance, the path of Avoidance. It’s a parent’s privilege to provide the discernment, the tools and the opportunities for their children’s growth, until the child is experienced enough to stand without aid. As such, it falls to parents to create opportunities, and set realistic goals for children, in which they are challenged by obstacles reasonably within their ability to overcome.
At a gathering, children are faced with the stresses of socializing, minus the anxiety of cultural, spiritual and religious differences. They will discover that Mum isn’t so weird. “After all, look at how many people believe like she does.” Seeing how strong, happy and confident Mom is in her practice will help them face their own spiritual obstacles later down the road. Realizing that they are part of a larger community will help them feel supported as they develop their own spiritual beliefs and practices.
The best thing a Pagan parent could do to help is, cultivate friendships with other pagan parents and expose their children to the larger pagan community, opening the door for Pagan children to find validation in what they are being taught and become part of their own circle of pagan friends.