I hope that we will find support for our parenting through friends, alternative schools, scouting, or other groups who haven't forgotten that becoming an adult requires a gradual loosening of protection and a willingness to let children take risks. One such friend is my colleague Niki Whiting, who designed a "five-year ritual" for her son just before he began formal schooling. The experience was designed to challenge the little boy, and he did indeed find the experience somewhat frightening: he was asked to jump over a fire, something he had never done before. Afterward, however, he shone with pride at his success; his ability to overcome his fear in the ritual circle helped him when he felt anxious in ordinary situations, as when approaching a teacher or a clerk at a store.
This kind of ritual innovation is what Pagans need to prepare for the future — as perhaps all of us do, living in these changing times. Someday I will tell my son, as he climbs on his bike, "See you later, come home before dark!"
What rite will we create to celebrate his competence and grant him that freedom? I can't wait to find out.