Editor’s Note: This blog series comes from a paper and presentation Taffy Dugan wrote on Pagan parenting and sharing spiritual practices with children. After beginning to research and receiving a surprising amount of interest, Taffy realized that the best way to serve the Goddess and the community was to blog about it. With her permission, Pagan Families is republishing lightly edited versions of the series from her site MagickalKids.
For many reasons, a lot of Pagan parents feel leery about sharing their spiritual path with their children. Many of us have come from strict and oppressive religious backgrounds and don’t want our kids to have to go through that. All of the Pagan families with whom I spoke want their children to be able to think for themselves and choose the path that bests suits them, not what the parents impose on them. Some of us follow traditions that are oath bound, like British Traditional Wicca, and therefore cannot share our practice with others who are not initiated. Children are too young to be initiated so they often have to wait until they are adults to join their parents. Quite a few of us are trying to keep our faith private as we might live in areas where we need to hide our path. Kids don’t always understand privacy and the last thing a parent in that situation needs is for their kid to say something “Witchy” and out them. Some have mixed faith marriages, like Christianity and Wicca so entwining them seems impossible. Many of us have family that flat out don’t understand us and our path, or maybe we’re afraid to lose child custody rights because there’s so much misinformation about Wicca and Paganism in general
So, what do we teach our children, and is that even a good idea?
Here’s the thing – there’s no such thing as NOT teaching our children. Kids are sponges that soak up knowledge from everywhere. We teach them with our actions and our words. So the question isn’t really SHOULD we teach our children but, WHAT shall we teach our children.
In the beginning, I was leery of sharing my path with my children. I wanted them to be open minded so I tried to remain vague about my beliefs. I’d often say things like “well, some people think this, and others that”. One day my son, after having been plagued with nightmares for several nights in a row, happened to watch a cute little Christian cartoon show called “Veggie Tales” over at a friend’s house. The show was entitled “Where’s God When I’m Scared.” He was so happy to know that God was watching over him; the nightmares began to fade away.
At first I was a little upset as I hadn’t been asked by my friend if he could watch something religious, but when I sat down to watch the show with him I understood. He wanted structure and to feel safe. He, and my daughter, needed to be rooted in a spiritual path so they wouldn’t feel so afraid and alone. I also realized in order for them to understand religions, they needed to understand one first in order to compare.
Every family is different; this is what our family needed. Maybe you don’t want to go that far yet. Maybe you want to share your values without sharing your practice. What do you do? There are many Pagan-type things you can share with your kid without being specifically Pagan – the turning of the seasons, love and respect for Earth, herbal remedies, faeries, dragons, unicorns. The easiest and most discreet way would be to give the kids bread crumbs to follow. Focus on Nature and Earth. There are so many ways to do that, especially now-a-days as our society is waking up and realizing their need to commune with Nature, and how important our Earth is. Hello reduce, reuse, recycle!
***If you would like to take part in this project by being interviewed, here are the questions:***
“With what tradition do you identify?
Many Pagan families want to share their practice with their children but, don’t know how or even if they should. What advice would you give them?
Some parents needs to keep their path hidden for a variety of reasons such as living in areas where they don’t feel safe to come out of the broom closet or maybe are afraid to lose custody of their children, do you have any tips for them?
Did you share your path with your child? Why or why not?
Did you start out wanting to share or were you afraid to impose your path onto your kids? What have you done that’s worked well? What hasn’t worked?
Were you raised in a Pagan tradition or something else?
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your answers, or if you have any questions.
Thank you and Blessed Be
Taffy Dugan runs South Bay Pagan Kids, owns the webstore MagickalKids, and is a Priestess in Waxing Moon Circle. She also enjoys doing talks at Pagan gatherings on creating rituals for children, and other Pagan parenting topics. She lives in San Jose, CA with her husband and their children.