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Thread: Raising children in a pagan home

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    Jr. Member Telekinetic Bears's Avatar
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    Question Raising children in a pagan home

    To start off, my husband and I are planning to start trying for children this October. Its an exciting thing, but its also a bit terrifying to someone as socially inept as I. There's suddenly a lot of worries to keep me awake and one of the biggest is raising the children in a pagan home when my side of the family is chocked full of various types of pagan-fearing catholics. So I come to this lovely, insightful, mind opening site with many MANY questions on the matter for you folks with children or peeps who were raised pagan.

    Have you ever had issues taking your child out of school for your respective holidays?


    If your child suffers harassment or bullying because of their religion, how do you deal with it?


    How do your child's teachers, classmates, and the parents of their classmates act when they find out your religion?


    Have you ever been threatened with or been the victim of violence for raising your child as a pagan?


    Do you expect your child to remain the same religion as you, or are you comfortable with them following their own path (even if its a religion you don't like)?


    If you had to break the news to your family about your faith, how did you help it go smoothly?


    If you were raised pagan, what joys and trials did you face and how did you deal with them?



    I'm sure I'll come up with LOTS more questions as this thread progresses.

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Raising children in a pagan home

    Quote Originally Posted by Telekinetic Bears View Post

    Have you ever had issues taking your child out of school for your respective holidays?


    This isn't something we've done...but we live in a fairly diverse area, so I don't think it would raise any eyebrows. School first, IMO.


    If your child suffers harassment or bullying because of their religion, how do you deal with it?
    I'll have to get back to this one, I don't have enough time for in-depth


    How do your child's teachers, classmates, and the parents of their classmates act when they find out your religion?
    50% of the time, they already know what it is and don't care (like I said, very diverse...also a lot of Navy folks, and if Paganism isn't known about, Wicca ususally is), 40% of the time they have no idea and don't care once we explain. 9% they might care, but they keep it to themselves

    ...and that 1%, well, you have to deal with that on a case by case basis

    Have you ever been threatened with or been the victim of violence for raising your child as a pagan?
    No.

    Do you expect your child to remain the same religion as you, or are you comfortable with them following their own path (even if its a religion you don't like)?
    I'm pretty sure #1 will either be Pagan or a secular humanist. Not sure about #2 yet. I care if my kid is a good person, and whatever religion helps them is ok with me.


    If you had to break the news to your family about your faith, how did you help it go smoothly?




    If you were raised pagan, what joys and trials did you face and how did you deal with them?

    I'll get back for these two also....
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

  3. #3
    Apprentice of Doom Shahaku's Avatar
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    Re: Raising children in a pagan home

    Quote Originally Posted by Telekinetic Bears View Post
    To start off, my husband and I are planning to start trying for children this October. Its an exciting thing, but its also a bit terrifying to someone as socially inept as I. There's suddenly a lot of worries to keep me awake and one of the biggest is raising the children in a pagan home when my side of the family is chocked full of various types of pagan-fearing catholics. So I come to this lovely, insightful, mind opening site with many MANY questions on the matter for you folks with children or peeps who were raised pagan.

    Have you ever had issues taking your child out of school for your respective holidays?


    If your child suffers harassment or bullying because of their religion, how do you deal with it?


    How do your child's teachers, classmates, and the parents of their classmates act when they find out your religion?


    Have you ever been threatened with or been the victim of violence for raising your child as a pagan?


    Do you expect your child to remain the same religion as you, or are you comfortable with them following their own path (even if its a religion you don't like)?


    If you had to break the news to your family about your faith, how did you help it go smoothly?


    If you were raised pagan, what joys and trials did you face and how did you deal with them?



    I'm sure I'll come up with LOTS more questions as this thread progresses.
    For some good parenting information from the forum you can check out this section: http://www.paganforum.com/forumdisplay.php?25-Parenting There is lots of discussion there and you might find some answers and some questions you haven't thought to ask yet.

    I'm a new mom, and I plan to raise my daughter pagan. She's 5 mo. So some of these things I can't really answer yet. But I can tell you what I plan, and what I've seen from other families around here. So.

    1: I don't really plan to take them out for holidays, simply because I probably won't be able to take the time off work anyway to celebrate personal holidays during the week. I don't think it would be a problem here though. The school has a rule that students 6th grade and above can miss 16 days of class before being held back, no questions asked. However, if you are pulling them out for this and that and they miss ten days and then there is a serious health issue and they miss two straight weeks, they would end up getting held back, no negotiations.

    2: I haven't had to deal with this with my daughter yet. I, however, was all over the religious board growing up. I never had a problem with my peers, they were curious and some were exploring similar paths. Some of their parents wouldn't allow them to hang out with me and my exploring friends however, during the elementary/middle school years. By high school, they didn't really have as much choice over their kids friends.

    3: Never really had an issue with teachers growing up. Not really an issue for my daughter yet. The other I addressed above.

    4: No.

    5: No. I'm very eclectic at the moment. My daughter will be raised knowing about all the different paths of the world. If she's a good person, I'll be happy. Though, I think it would really bother me if she became atheist. There's not really anything wrong with the atheists I know, I just believe that faith is really important and it would bother me if she didn't have that.

    6: I'm slowly doing this. They are going to know when she starts saying bedtime prayers that are "kooky" versions of "Now I lay me down to sleep." We've (my husband and eye) have had some raised eyebrows from various family members. His is Catholic, though not really practicing. We had our wedding at a UU and there was no mention of Christ of God and that got some odd looks. I imagine the baby blessing I would like to have for my daughter will raise more. I got a tattoo recently depicting the religions I've studied and the path I've followed and that raised some brows, but there hasn't really been open discussion. Slow hinting so far.

    7: More or less, I was raised Christian. I started exploring in Middle School. Mostly, it just wasn't a big deal.
    We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. There is good and evil among every kind of people. It's the evil among us who rule now. -Anne Bishop, Daughter of the Blood

    I wondered if he could ever understand that it was a blessing, not a sin, to be graced with more than one love.
    It could be complicated; of course it could be complicated. And it opened one up to the possibility of more pain and loss.
    Still, it was a blessing I would never relinquish. Love, genuine love, was always a cause for joy.
    -Jacqueline Carey, Naamah's Curse

    Service to your fellows is the root of peace.

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    Honorary Supporter Dez's Avatar
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    Re: Raising children in a pagan home

    Bit of a different take on this, but I'm a big fan of the idea that there are no such thing as Christian, Buddhist, or Pagan children, only children born to a parent of a particular faith.

    My kids are 8 and 5. Sometimes they pray, sometimes they don't. It's something they initiate, and is usually my five year old asking Thor to help him grow up to be strong and brave, and offering food/drink if he would help him remember it wake up in the night and use the facilities. I let them see what I'm up to. We talk about different faiths a lot, and I let them know that they can believe( or not) what they want to.

    There are raised eyebrows now and then(like when the oldest declared at school that she worships "all the gods...and Jesus, just to be on the safe side"), but I live in a pretty diverse area on purpose. At this age, learning about different pantheons is part of learning about history and the world around them. If something "clicks" I'll support them from there.

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    Jr. Member Telekinetic Bears's Avatar
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    Re: Raising children in a pagan home

    Quote Originally Posted by Shahaku View Post
    For some good parenting information from the forum you can check out this section: http://www.paganforum.com/forumdisplay.php?25-Parenting There is lots of discussion there and you might find some answers and some questions you haven't thought to ask yet.
    AHH JEEZ lol am I blind? I scrolled through the forums looking for parenting stuff last night and I must have just glazed past that. I was pretty distracted by sleep deprivation. Thank you

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Dez View Post
    Bit of a different take on this, but I'm a big fan of the idea that there are no such thing as Christian, Buddhist, or Pagan children, only children born to a parent of a particular faith.
    I like that take

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    Apprentice of Doom Shahaku's Avatar
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    Re: Raising children in a pagan home

    Quote Originally Posted by Telekinetic Bears View Post
    AHH JEEZ lol am I blind? I scrolled through the forums looking for parenting stuff last night and I must have just glazed past that. I was pretty distracted by sleep deprivation. Thank you

    - - - Updated - - -


    I like that take
    It's alright. There's a lot to sift through around here, it's really easy to overlook things.
    We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. There is good and evil among every kind of people. It's the evil among us who rule now. -Anne Bishop, Daughter of the Blood

    I wondered if he could ever understand that it was a blessing, not a sin, to be graced with more than one love.
    It could be complicated; of course it could be complicated. And it opened one up to the possibility of more pain and loss.
    Still, it was a blessing I would never relinquish. Love, genuine love, was always a cause for joy.
    -Jacqueline Carey, Naamah's Curse

    Service to your fellows is the root of peace.

  7. #7
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Raising children in a pagan home

    If your child suffers harassment or bullying because of their religion, how do you deal with it?

    I think this starts with preparation and prevention. (this is just my opinion based on my own childhood experiences and those of my brothers and kids, not any sort of researched thing)

    #1) Expect that your child will be bullied. Most kids are (even bullies) at some point in time, bullied. Even if your religion didn't give them something to "outgroup" them from other kids, it would just be something else--too smart? not smart enough? bad at reading? good at math? wears glasses? fat? skinny? class clown? shy? skin color? gender? perceived sexuality?

    #2) Teach your kids about bullying and let them know you are there for them. Teach them what bullying is (our schools already do this). Let them know that you will not tolerate them being a bully, nor will you tolerate them being bullied. Make them absolutely and utterly sure that if they are bullied, you will listen, and you will take action in accordance with their feelings on the matter (unless you think they are in danger).

    #3) Prepare your child for the eventuality that they will be bullied, and put strategies in place for dealing with it. Is it fair? No...is it likely? Yes. (BTW, I feel the same about teaching your kids about rape--male and female, and about the eventuality of death...reality will trump what is "fair" every time). This is going to depend on your child and on your environment...maybe it means getting them lessons in self defense to build confidence and actually help them should they need to defend themselves, maybe this just means teaching them to verbally defend themselves. It might mean getting them counseling, or helping them go to a teacher, or come up with strategies to avoid the persons in question...or homeschooling or changing schools.

    More likely (or more frequent) than being bullied, your kids are going to face questions about their beliefs and practice and peer pressure. Discuss with them what you believe, and why. Ask them what they believe, and why. Help them formulate answers to questions they might encounter. Phee's just finished 1st grade and been asked about not celebrating Christmas, so she's had to explaine about Yule and the Winter Solstice. She's also been asked about going to VBS with a friend and turned them down (very politely, I might add).






    If you had to break the news to your family about your faith, how did you help it go smoothly?

    My family has known since I was in high school. Somewhere we have a thread on how we came out of the closet...my long schpiel is there. I went for the gradual approach, but for me it was pretty easy since my immediate family are liberal and progressive Christians.

    Hubby's family knows that a) we didn't baptize the kids, and b) we take the kids to Unitarian Universalist religious education classes. Its bad enough we aren't raising Catholic babies...I'm sure his mom probably knows we are Pagan (his brother and cousins know), but its one of those things that just isn't talked about.


    If you were raised pagan, what joys and trials did you face and how did you deal with them?


    I wasn't raised Pagan, but I was raised in a very liberal and progressive Christianity, in a family with two parents with a educational background that valued science and math (my mom is a nurse and my father an engineer). I was raised to question the Bible as a matter of faith...in an almost Jeffersonian sort of fashion. I discovered Paganism in middle school, some 22 years ago, shortly after rejecting the necessity for salvation and the deification of Jesus (both things my family was aware of, because debating religion was a common dinner table discussion along with debating politics, social structures, literature, science, etc...my grandparents were extremely well read, though not formally educated).

    The biggest shock for me was the realization that not everyone was raised like this. I didn't know that people disbelieved in Evolution til I was in high school. I didn't know that there were parents that actually expected their kids to not question their religious beliefs, like ever... I am so grateful for the sort of family I was raised in, and I hope to replicate that aspect for my children. I was raised in a Christian family, even a church-going family. I went to Sunday school nearly every Sunday and VBS every summer...but I was never expected to blindly agree. I was given a good foundation (which I believe can come from any religion) on a belief system and mythos as the symbols and language by which we can address that which is greater than ourselves...I may not agree with the tenets of Christian belief, but I believe that being raised in a faith (but in a way that teaches thoughtful dissection and discourse of belief) has done nothing but benefit me.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

  8. #8
    Sr. Member Threshold's Avatar
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    Re: Raising children in a pagan home

    My three adult children were raised in a pagan home.

    I rarely took them out of school for holy days, but if I did, it wasn't often enough to be an issue.

    The only time I know outright that any of my kids were discriminated against for our religion was a girl scout leader simply cutting my daughter out of the troop because of it.

    I've never been one for making "announcements" to the family. I'm a grown up, I do what I do. I go about my business doing what I do and if someone asks for information then I'll share it.

    Some family members have expressed distress, disappointment, worry over it, but no one disowned us...well, maybe one of my sisters in law, but she's an odd bird and stops talking to people on a regular basis.

    My own kids felt varying ways about our religion as they grew, you know...at some point most kids seem to think the religion they are raised in is bogus, or stupid etc. By the time they were adults, even if they didn't believe in it all, they appreciated certain aspects of it.

    It was never an issue for me whether or not they continued to practice my religion once they went out on their own.

    No matter what faith, race, body style, skill set kids have, someone, somewhere it going to find a reason to make an issue of it. There is no way to bulletproof our kids, or ourselves.

    Our religion didn't require any special clothes or anything that would make it obvious to others what faith they were part of. Until high school when they could choose on their own whether to wear pendants etc, it was a non issue.

    My daughter used to fight with kids about religion all the time, but most of the time it was HER giving them crap about their beliefs, not the other way round. She was quite a handful.

    Raising them pagan doesn't meant they will be either tolerant or respectful of the faiths of others.

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