Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft: Racism, Homophobia, Gender Bias, Intolerance, and Pagan Parenting

This article started with a discussion about polyamory and another about racism. It was meant to be a short educational look at things pagan parents can do to rear children who are tolerant and aware of issues around racism, homophobia, gender bias, and religious intolerance, but it has morphed into so much more.

Due to the growing length of this discussion, my next few articles will focus on these topics. We will be covering the steps I have identified that will help parents (pagan or not) to address racism, homophobia, gender bias, religious intolerance, and just about any other difficult topic that may need discussion with children.

Before we get started I want to make a few crucial points.

We are all co-parents and guardians of the next generation. Any time we see a child, teenager, or young adult moving toward destruction, we must stand in the gap between their inexperience and our experience and gently try to illuminate the destination they are headed for. Being silent, apathetic, and having an attitude that “This isn’t my problem” is a sure way to make a misguided youth into society’s problem. We are society. We will all suffer.

This does not mean that in the moment, the actual co-parents or guardians will appreciate your voice. However, these pivotal moments last long beyond the initial confrontation. My personal experience has been that more people have come to me later and thanked me for speaking up than have continued to discount what I had to say.

Wisdom is essential if you are to passionately advocate against racism, homophobia, sexism, and intolerance. Be careful that you advocate only for what is clearly right and not for what you have decided is right or correct. There is a difference between your personal opinions regarding morality and identifying intolerance, gender bias, homophobia, or fundamentalism.

Age does not matter. Too often I get the question from parents, “When do I start teaching about XYZ?” Despite the assertion by social and developmental scientists to the contrary, there isn’t a magic age that can be relied upon when it comes to learning about difficult topics. Age is just one indication of what a child can comprehend.

This idea is central to developmental psychology.[i] Through the work of Jean Piaget, stages of development in children were quantified.[ii] These stages can help us guide and teach our children at the developmental level they are in. Piaget’s theories are not the only ones regarding child development however.[iii] There are several different theories that compliment and contradict each other in regards to development psychology. In my forthcoming book Family Coven: Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft, I take a cursory look at these different modes of thinking and then try to utilize them as part of the larger presentation of Family Coven. The references I have given here, however, should be sufficient for the reader to explore these ideas. I will reference these different theories throughout this article and other subsequent articles on childhood development and training.

Although there seems little doubt that children do move through stages of development, the rate at which they move through them will vary from child to child. I say this because parenting tips are really suggestions. When we study the Craft, seekers are often told to keep what resonates with them and leave the rest. I feel the same about parenting. As you read about parenting, take what resonates with you and your child(ren) and leave the rest. And if you try one thing and it doesn’t work, don’t give up and don’t stop trying different things. Reach out, get help if you need to. Seek out professionals and find what works for your child(ren) and your Family Coven.

However, the most important point to make is children begin to learn directly after birth. Their learning is tactile and experiential. What they experience through the senses is what they learn. Piaget calls this the Sensory Motor Stage. Later, children move into the Pre-operational Stage where things are centered on the child: what the child needs, wants, or doesn’t want. Elementary and preadolescent children move into the Concrete Operational Stage of development and lose their egocentricity. Near formal adulthood begins the Formal Operational Stage where they can utilize abstract thought and concepts and create a depth of understanding that lifts them out of childhood altogether.

Through all these stages, the most powerful tool for childhood understanding and learning is osmosis. I define osmosis as the learning and idea development that happens by watching those who are influential in their lives live, love, express opinions, overcome obstacles, and walk a spiritual path. What parents DO or DO NOT DO is the single most important influence upon a child, regardless of the developmental stage the child is in.

You started teaching your child the moment you held him or her for the first time. You will stop teaching your child when you die, and even in how you face death, you will be giving them their final lesson.

I was brought to this article by a series of conversations about my own son, who is fifteen. A close friend and I were talking about polyamory, and he relayed a story about my son. He told me that he and my son were recently admiring the band that was playing at a festival my Family Coven had attended. There was a couple, a man who was white and a female who was of mixed race, who made up part of the band. My son suddenly said, “What a beautiful couple!”

My friend agreed with him and my son elaborated, “I would love to spend the night with them.”

A little uncertain, my friend said, “Really? With her you mean?”

My boy turned to him and said, “No. With them – they’re really beautiful. Not just physically, although, they’re really hot! But they’re nice to each other and obviously love each other. That would be beautiful to be a part of.”

My friend thought to himself, “YES! This is what pagan parenting should produce! Adults who LOVE regardless of gender or race.”

Although I am flattered by the compliment, it left me wondering if one can reliably reproduce such a wonderful outcome. All children are different; at this stage of the parenting game, I have learned the humbling lesson that sometimes, no matter what we wish for our children, they are individuals who will make their own way — and their way may not be the one you hope they will choose. Sometimes, it isn’t even the best direction for them. The best of parents can raise children who are bigoted and homophobic, even when the parents are not. So much goes into the rearing of adults that, especially when children become teenagers, it begins to feel like a crap shoot.

My thinking on these issues continued over a period of a couple of weeks and was brought to the forefront again when my roommate, Nate, told me about his younger brother. Nate is mixed race: African American, American Indian, and White. His baby brother is a fully white sibling by Nate’s mother. One day, the five-year-old brother and Nate were discussing when it was okay to get into fist fights. Nate was telling baby brother that sometimes you have to take up for yourself or your family members against bad guys even if there are consequences.

“You mean bad men like black guys?” the kid brother interrupted.

Stunned, Nate asked his brother where he got the idea that bad guys were always black. The younger brother pointed out that whenever someone was on the news because they were bad, they were almost always black. Nate told me he felt ill-equipped to deal with the overt racism his brother was picking up from television and from living in a predominately white county in the Southern US.

This led me to think about (and again thank the gods for) our fifteen-year-old who is, at his core, extremely sensitive to the acceptance of races, sexual orientations, and other religions. Talking with Nate, I started to seriously contemplate how he became who he is.  I recognized that if a stand against the incipient racism and homophobia present in our society is to be made, there are some key things that my partner and I did with my son that can be replicated. I condensed these into key points:

→ Develop Child(ren) Who Interrogate Reality

→ Be Vocal

→ Words Have Power

→  Praise the Champion

→ Discuss Politics News and Current Events

→ Exploit the Media That Would Exploit Your Child(ren)

→ The Law and When to Break It

→ Empower a Child(ren)’s Opinion

 

1. Develop Child(ren) Who Interrogate Reality Anyone who knows me knows that I am constantly pushing people to read Susan Scott’s book Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time.[iv] Those few who have trained with me have been asked to read this book at least three different times over a period of four to five years. This book is more than just a communication book, it is a book that walks a person through the ability to interrogate reality. This is the act of asking yourself: What you want to gain from conversations you have? How often you are polite instead of being honest? Do you desire honest answers to the questions you ask? What is the cost of dishonesty emotionally, mentally, physically and economically?[v] This skill contributes to the Emotional Intelligence (EI) of your child(ren). EI is the ability to observe, assess, and govern one’s emotions.[vi]

EI training can begin with simple questions given back to a child. If a child asks, “Why?” A great response is “Why do you think?” If it is a fact-based question (“Why is the sky blue?”), then utilize fact-based references to answer them. If it is an emotion-based question (“Why is mommy sad?”), then ask them to interrogate their reality (“If you were mommy, why would you be sad?”).

Another way to interrogate reality is around the beach ball method described by Scott.[vii] Imagine that a family is all holding the same beach ball, representing the total reality of a situation. Each family member can only see the stripe of the beach ball on the side they are holding. Take, for example, a child whose parents will not permit them to have the newest Xbox. The feelings and reasons behind that decision vary depending on which stripe of the beach ball the family member is holding. The Child may see the green stripe, jealous that “all” their friends have one. The Mother Priestess may see the blue stripe where she is worried about the long-term mental and emotional consequences of too much game play. The Father Priest may see the yellow stripe where he played video games growing up and doesn’t understand what the difference is between now and then (besides the console being way more expensive!). All of these realities are concrete to each person. It is the ability of co-parents to recognize and experience all the stripes that builds a child’s ability to do the same.

The most important question regarding reality that you should ask yourself is this: What is the conversation that I have been avoiding and what is the psychological, emotional, spiritual, and monetary damage being done by my silence? This is especially important with children. Parents often put off addressing issues, or master the art of deflecting questions instead of having difficult conversations. They let television, video games, and other interferences act as a buffers between themselves and their Family Coven members, to the detriment of the Family Coven. When a child asks a question, they deserve an answer, a real answer that isn’t reliant upon absolute conformity to the views and opinions of the co-parents. When things happen that can teach a child a lesson about intolerance, they deserve to have a co-parent who will stop everything and spend ten, twenty, thirty minutes or more having a discussion about that lesson. They need parent priests and priestesses who engage them in discussion and in that engagement, help them develop critical thinking skills that will lead to a high Emotional Intelligence.[viii]

In my next installment, we will continue to explore the different things parents can do to confront racism, gender bias, intolerance, and religious bigotry in their own Family Coven.


[i]McLeod, Saul. “Developmental Psychology.” Simply Psychology. Simply Psychology, 2013. Web. 29 Dec. 2013. McLeod, S. A. (2012).

[ii] McLeod, Saul. “Jean Piaget.” Simply Psychology. Simply Psycholgy, 2012. Web. 29 Dec.2013.

[iii] Miller, Patricia H. “Social Learning Theory.” Theories of Development Psychology. 3rd ed. Gainseville: University of Florida, 2009. 177-232. Michican State University. D. Wong, 28 Aug. 2006. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.

[iv] Scott, Susan. Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time. New York, NY: Berkley Pub. Group, 2004. Print.

[v] Scott, Susan. Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time. New York, NY: Berkley Pub. Group, 2004. N. page 19. Print

[vi] http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_59.htm

[vii] Scott, Susan. Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time. New York, NY: Berkley Pub. Group, 2004. N. page 15. Print.

[viii]Goldman, Daniel, Peter Salovey, John Meyer, Howard Gardner, Robert Sternberg, and Jack Block. Emotional Intelligence Test. Computer software. Emotional Intelligence Test. Queendom.com, n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2013. <http://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=3037>.

I could not verify who created this test; however, I felt it was a good test to take, and it does borrow heavily from Daniel Goldman’s book on Emotional Intelligence.


Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft is published on alternate Mondays. Subscribe via RSS or e-mail!

  • Fenrir Kaino

    “Be careful that you advocate only for what is clearly right and not for what you have decided is right or correct. ”

    There is nothing clearly right or wrong in this world i.e. you will always advocate for something you or someone else has decided is right or correct.

    Also this article simply advocates rather mindless conditioning. You should understand that something is wrong, when you have to brainwash your kids from the very birth to believe what is essentially a lie.

    You don’t have to tolerate everything this world throws at you, and everyone has a right to do that choice by themselves. Be it religion, racism or political ideology.

    • https://www.lydiamncrabtree.com/ Lydia M N Crabtree

      I am trying to hear and understand your point of view. Please elaborate how you believe that what I advocate is mindless conditioning and what particularly in my article is “essentially a lie” that brainwashes children?

      Regarding what is clearly “right and not for what you have decided is
      right or correct.” It is true that I take a turn away from “all paths are sacred,” as I have mentioned in past installments. I do think there
      are things absolutely that are wrong (rape, pedophilia, murder that is
      premeditated and unprovoked, not keeping ones word). I think that the excuse that all paths are sacred or “this is right for me so you have to tolerate my horrible behavior” is absolutely one that we need to diverge from as a society.

      As you point out one does not have to tolerate everything the world offers even though everyone has a right to choose what to do or how to behave. However, when rearing children, if we meekly accept all the behaviors they choose, then children would be much worse for wear. For example, I have a son when younger, who would have chosen actual experience above the word of anyone else. While in some circumstances his choice was acceptable within safe limits I could provide, when it came to experiencing hot things, permitting him to continue to choose to touch those things was not acceptable. (You try explaining repeat 3rd degree burns to a trauma team). There is a certain amount of limits co-parents and guardians must put upon children for their own safety. I wouldn’t classify this as mindless conditioning, just simple common sense.

      If you think for one second I have a teenager who is brainwashed; however, allow me to quote him during a disagreement over rules, restrictions and general beliefs, “You wanted to raise a child who thinks for himself, so I am. Now what are you going to do?” he calmly stated.

      My response was complete silence and then, “Fine. Your right. I hear your point of view. Please continue respectfully objecting anytime you feel like it and expect the same from me.”

    • Crystal Blanton

      I think this point misses so much of the reality of what is really being discussed here. This is not about brainwashing. That is a very strange perspective. It is about giving our children a platform to know that all things important, and all people are important. It is being conscious enough to combat the adversive racism and biases that are implanted by a society that is founded on systems that are not created for the equality of all.

      If we do not have the conversations with our young people that open their mind to the possibilities that racism is harmful, we continue the ongoing bullshit that has linked generations to systemic hardship, poverty and oppression.

      Lydia, good article. Keep the information coming. If we don’t teach our children from a foundation of equality, then we are allowing the society around them to create the foundation instead. We have to create the future in our children in order to stop the past from becoming our future again and again.

      • https://www.lydiamncrabtree.com/ Lydia M N Crabtree

        Thank you Crystal. I appreciate your support and I will continue this topic for the next few columns. It is something that started as an idea that took on a life of its own. I think you know what that is like.

  • Romany Rivers

    Children are not born with racism or prejudice, they are simply born into a world of wonder and fascination – the natural and social laws of which they must rapidly learn. It is society as a whole that teaches intolerance, and as a part of society it is our job to teach awareness of that. If a childs natural state is one of acceptance and understanding, then allowing that state to flourish into adult awareness is not brainwashing.

    There is a big difference between agreeing with a person and listening to their argument. You do not need to accept every behaviour or belief to be a tolerant and loving person. No one can make an informed choice about lifestyle, race, religion, belief or behaviour of they are not actually taught how to gather information, critically think, reflect upon the subject, decide for themselves and live with the consequences of that process.

    A child that has thought hard enough to frame a question, must be helped to think about all the answers. An informed choice cannot be made without information on all the choices available.

  • Jessica Mortimer

    Beautifully written. As my own children are growing I have fought with my own family and those outside of my home to understand that my children will not be raised to judge others based on religion, sex,race,who they love etc…and its a daily fight but I feel it’s a fight that is worth it and one I will always have to fight for.The world is hard enough with the bigotry, racism, sexism , and down right hateful people of this world I need as a parent to show them that it is not normal or required to be such a way and its due to bad Parenting Or lack of any that leads to people thinking in such a hurtful Way. Thank you for taking a stand and raising your child to think with a Open mind & love with a Open heart and being a pillar of light for those who wish to do the Same regardless of the nonsense of the rest of the World or others that are also Scared of a world of open minded leaders with hearts open to love thank you .

    • https://www.lydiamncrabtree.com/ Lydia M N Crabtree

      Thank you Jessica. You words are appreciated.

    • OfficialPro

      But didn’t you teach them that “fundamentalists” are BAD people? That’s judging them based on their religion.

      • Rosenmops

        What if the kid wants to join the Young Republicans?

        • OfficialPro

          see, this is the problem with appropriating the distinction between good and evil. Good and evil compared to what? According to whom?

      • Alyxander M Folmer

        Fundamentalist isn’t a religion. It’s just another descriptor like, “Conservative” or “Orthodox”, which can be applied to ANY religious group.

        • OfficialPro

          Some people don’t make that distinction.

          • Alyxander M Folmer

            Some people don’t bother to make the distinction between Apes and Monkeys. Doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
            There is no “Fundamentalist” religion; there is “Christian Fundamentalism” or “Islamic Fundamentalism”. It is not an independent religious entity, it’s a descriptor for social movements.

            • OfficialPro

              yes, but at the end of the day, whether fundamentalist or not, isn’t it judging someone based on their beliefs?

              Seriously now, you can’t say it’s wrong to judge someone based on what they believe, and then go on to judge someone based on what they believe.

              • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

                There’s a difference between trying not to hurt people based on what they believe, and not judging people’s beliefs. I don’t think the article is actually arguing that no one should judge — quite the opposite.

                I don’t think most of the abusive commenters here actually read the article, but are arguing with what they perceive it to have said based on looking at the title. If you want to argue with something, try READING it and then disagreeing in a coherent way with its actual points.

  • Taylor Ellwood

    Good article. Having become a step-parent in the last few years, I’ve come to appreciate just how important it is to raise a kid to question everything. It insures that they will think for themselves and make their own decisions.

    • Drunk_by_Noon

      What if he starts questioning basic moral value judgements such as “thou shall not commit murder” and decides to color outside the Judeo Christian box of patriarchy?
      Would you support and nurture his right to explore alternative value systems, as he is “questioning everything”?
      What if he decides that ‘predatory nihilism’ is the correct life path for him?
      Would you judge him and risk being seen a hypocrite by everyone in your coven?

      • OfficialPro

        Or worse yet, color outside the box of Pagan Utopian Visions?

      • Alyxander M Folmer

        Wow… What is your deal, man? The article was about raising kids to think critically and question their assumptions. What’s got you so riled up?

    • OfficialPro

      But do parents, any parents, truly tell (or intend) their kids to question *everything*? I do not believe they do. Rare is the parent that will tell their child to question even the very things (i.e. what the parent considers to be “moral” – quotations around it because what is “moral” varies among people) the parents are trying to teach them.

      • Alyxander M Folmer

        “But do parents, any parents, truly tell (or intend) their kids to question *everything*?”

        The good ones do. Mine did. (Well, to be fair ONE of mine did. The other one threatened me with hellfire, but that’s another story entirely.)
        There’s a difference between “It’s ok to just ignore your parents” and “Question everything you think you know.” I was raised to value critical thinking and skepticism. I plan to raise my kids the same way.

        • OfficialPro

          The problem is most people don’t even understand what critical thinking is, even though they think they do.
          In other words, they only tell them to be critical of the opposite
          viewpoints held by the parents, but not critical of the views held by
          the parents.

          Do you plan to raise your kids to be skeptical of communism and marxist dialectic, for example?

          • Alyxander M Folmer

            “Do you plan to raise your kids to be skeptical of communism and marxist dialectic, for example?”
            -I’m gonna be honest, 20 minutes of Google-Fu has given me a very tenuous grasp on what the marxist dialectic is. (I’ll have to read up on that later.)
            To answer the root of your question though, if I do my job correctly my progeny should know to question any form of government. (Including our own). These is no perfect system, and if we pretend that the one we like is somehow flawless then all we’re really doing is turning a blind eye to our problems instead of trying to fix them.
            Now, do I hope my kids grow up with sensibilities similar to my own? Yeah, it would make communication easier. However I’m not so vain as to believe that I know everything, and that my children could not possibly find equally valid (or even superior) conclusions which differ from my own.
            If they know to question EVERYTHING, and always follow the evidence, then I’ll count my parenting as a job well done.

            • OfficialPro

              protip: Marxist dialectic is taught in many universities, but they do not call it that (usually). Keywords in identifying it include a focus on “oppression” as a concept.

              But, your answer is acceptable. :)

              • Alyxander M Folmer

                Interesting. I’ll watch for that. Meanwhile, the internet is a FANTASTIC place for filling gaps in ones own ignorance, which I intend to do here. *goes off into the depths of Google in search of Marxist dialectic*

                • Guest

                  I’m beginning to think I might need to read a few books to wrap my head around this. The summaries I’m finding are not very illuminating.

                  • OfficialPro

                    At its core it’s full of Orwellian-speak, so I’m not surprised you’re having trouble there. You have to learn how to unravel the doubletalk and psychobabble.

  • Anon

    The best way to learn about these things is through immersion. For example, it’s important to live in a black neighborhood (at least 90% black) and to have as many gay friends as possible.

    If possible, spend time traveling abroad, volunteering your time to help troubled people in places like haiti, india, and the oppressed people of color in the south african ghettos. Live among them and learn from them.

    Only by immersing yourself in diversity can you truly understand what is really going on. Until you do, you are just pretending while wallowing in white privilege.

    • https://www.lydiamncrabtree.com/ Lydia M N Crabtree

      Although I agree with you that immersion helps us better understand other situations. I truly hope that education goes a little way to helping or there is little hope that racism, gender bias, homophobia and intolerance will never be confronted where it lives, in privileged neighborhoods everywhere.

    • OfficialPro

      Immersion is great, if the people you’re immersed around do not subscribe to Critical Race Theory. Because if they do, it will not end well.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        That’s just your white privilege patriarchy talking.

        • OfficialPro

          And how!

  • Charles Martel

    As far as I am concerned, if my child is aware that a 13 percent segment of the population commits 50 percent of all crime, I will not be teaching them otherwise.

    • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

      Putting aside whether this statistic is current or accurate and the fact that it lumps all criminal acts together in a single category (i.e. misdemeanor marijuana possession and multiple murder would each be considered a single crime), it might be better to teach your child to interpret statistics… otherwise the fact that the majority of rapes in the US are committed by white men might similarly lead him or her to believe that all white men are bad guys.

      Statistics tell about patterns, not about individual behavior.

  • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

    To the folks who are organizing trolling on this article via another website — several of you have been blacklisted and your comments containing abuse or profanity have been deleted. Comments that are making some semblance of an honest argument have largely been left. Debate is welcome here, but not abuse.

  • OfficialPro

    no, the idea that the kids should be raised more or less ‘by the village’ is bought into only via the imbibing of purple koolaid (you DO know who Jim Jones was, don’t you?)

    In extreme forms you get idiots saying that kids don’t even “belong” to their parents.

  • OfficialPro

    I’m pretty sure that drunk by noon’s reasoning is that the original poster’s post is full of logical flaws and inconsistencies.

    In other words, the very people that preach tolerance, mostly have tolerance only for viewpoints that are approximating their own. It’s the hypocrisy that does it.

  • Alyxander M Folmer

    I am perfectly familiar with the reference, but I don’t think it’s quite appropriate here. We all learn from sources outside of our own parents. We had that teacher that inspired us, or that coach that gave us a life lesson, or that stranger on the bus who shared their sob story and taught us something. Kids are like sponges, constantly soaking up information from their environment.

    Now as individuals we ALL have differing ideas of what a “Good Person” should be. I think all she was saying here was that it’s our duty to be the best person we know how to be, and set the best example we can for the next generation.

    I agree that there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to do this, but at it’s core, the basic message was “set a good example”. If you’re a teacher at a public school, it’s not appropriate to tell little Timmy that his life would be better if he came to “Jesus/Allah/Pan/etc”. However, if little Timmy is doing drugs on his lunch break and getting into fights, the teacher shouldn’t just sit back and do nothing. (I would argue that the Teacher best chance is probably to get the Parents involved as well, but that doesn’t mean that the teacher is powerless to try and inspire little Timmy to do better things with his life.)

  • OfficialPro

    that’s just great, but how exactly can a teacher get through to little drug-using Timmy? From what I’ve heard, many teachers (in several countries) are powerless to do anything about disruptive children.

    And what exactly can the Teacher do if Little Timmy’s parents simply don’t give a s*** and are passed out on the couch drunk all day when they’re not slapping little Timmy around (which caused him to do drugs in the first place)?


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