Saturday, October 29, 2011

Parenting: Making Faith Choices for Our Children

IMG_8561I know to this point I’ve short of steered clear about talking specifically on my own faith and some of my own choices as a parent. Something has happened has inspired me to write this post.

Warning: for those who follow on G+ some of this will be a repeat but not all so keep reading.

Friday Morning I had a series of tweets back and forth with someone that has gotten me thinking.

The idea was put forth that raising children in the Pagan faith is wrong because it is forcing faith on them. I disagree with this completely.


First because I’ve never said it a bit of background on me. Though I am fine with the umbrella Pagan term, especially as a family label because my Husband is an Eclectic Pagan and my shop is focused to encompass all Pagans. I do not follow a Wicca based tradition. I self identify as Heathen and though I may not be the best of Heathens, that is what shapes my world view.

To me my faith is entirely about community and to isolate my children from this is completely wrong. Heathenry is a pretty down earth practice, it’s a faith of community, family and relationships at it’s heart. There is a hell of a lot more to it then that but this isn’t a post about Heathenry this is a post about Faith and Parenting decisions.

First in regards to raising children in a faith as forcing it on them. I don’t think it’s wrong for parents of any faith to raise their children in that faith. I feel children need a strong foundation on which to make their own choices. If as they age and mature they wish to explore other faiths and choice to follow a different path I’ll 100% be behind them. What is forcing them is once they reach that more mature state insisting they continue to participate even if they express the desire to not do so. As young children though it is my duty as their parent to teach them from my life experiences and well my faith is a part of that.

Our parenting decisions are touché subjects. As parents we all want what is best for our children and don’t want to think any of our actions are harming them. Honestly I’ve seriously edited myself in this post. Since I first started discussing this on Google + to writing this blog I’ve gone through a whirlwind of emotions.

At first I was pissed off to think someone was saying something I so strongly believe is harming Lil’ R and Wee Rose. Then for that same reason I got a bit depressed questioning my decisions. After speaking with a few people I came back around to normal me and decided this was a very important thing to talk about.

On a different line of thought as a parent of very young children it could be said that I force my will of many things on them. For the longest time, and still with Wee Rose I pick entirely what they eat. Once Lil ‘R started expressing an opinion he now has some options though. I still enforce my will when he asks to eat ice cream at lunch. I’m his parent though and that’s my duty to him.

In this case I feel they need to be exposed to some faith and community, and once they can express their own opinions well they can make some choices and as they get older they can make even more. Here also it is my duty as a parent to teach them as best I can in all ways. If I didn’t do so, then I would be failing them.

This is a very difficult subject to discuss but what are your views? Will you teach them your faith, many faiths or just wait until they are older?

Leave a comment and I’d love to see the discussion that comes out of it.



  1. Well thought out and well written. Thanks.

  2. I think it is very important for children to have faith/religion in their life. I teach my boys (now 10 & 13) Paganism. (Eclectic) My family is Pagan. When they get older, more mature, I have told them to explore and learn about other religions if they choose too.It will be there choice. I do talk to my kids about other religions and what other people believe and tell them that this is what I believe, but they need to make up their own minds. Until then this is our families religion.
    I don't see a difference in raising my kids Pagan than a Christian raising their kids Christian. Some might say I am forcing my religion on my kids. But I could just say that a Christian or a Baptist or Jewish are all forcing their religion on their own kids. (I won't) But theres no difference.
    Kids need religion in their lives. And to just seperate them and leave them out of it is wrong.
    Another thing I don't understand is why some Pagan parents send their kids to a Christian or Baptist church for Sunday school and activities so their kid has religion in their life. What is wrong with their own religion? Why can't they teach their beliefs to their own kids instead of teaching them another religion.
    But, thats just my 2 cents.

  3. Your faith should be seen in your everyday life. If you live your faith, then how can you not be teaching and exposing your children to it. It makes no difference what faith it is, it should be a prominent part of your life especially your family life.

  4. We will wait till she is older. DD is 10 now and old enough to decide whether she wants to participate and learn more. She's chosen to be in ritual a few times but other than that she's not interested. You say those of us who say its wrong to force religion on children at a young age are judging you. Well you've done the same by this statement: "Here also it is my duty as a parent to teach them as best I can in all ways. If I didn’t do so, then I would be failing them."

    Forcing them to eat well and religion are two very different things. And just because you do one doesn't mean its right to do the other.

  5. In my household, I am a eclectic pagan and my husband is an atheist. We celebrate the wheel of the year because it make sense to all of us to mark the cycle of the year. Our kids have been exposed to many different faiths and worldviews. I am not invested in seeing them grow to be Pagan, I only care that they are good citizen of the world and are happy, accepting people who don't force their will on others.

    A duck's back against criticism is powerful tool to develop as a parent. Other people don't live your life, so they will never completely understand your views. Do what feels right to you and let the rest go.

  6. I'm also a heathen, and one of those who don't like it when religion is forced down someone's throat. But that's not what you're doing. You're including them, as am I my daughter. She gets to participate when she wants to. She loves to help me prepare for blots, and she's seen me do a couple by now. She loved my Spring Blót, and insisted on tasting (licking) all the offerings. Even the fresh hallibut. I saw no harm in this. I don't isolate her, I include her. But not more than she's comfortable with. She's just turned 4.

    When she comes home singing songs that are purely Christian (like one that says God made all the flowers), I explain that some people belive in that, while I and her father don't. I will not make her become a Heathen, but I want to give her the possibility for informed decision when she's old enough. What I protest most against, are those parents who set their faith as the only truth, and even discipline their children for not being 'religious' enough.

    For the record, her father's an agnostic, and he doesn't really like it when I involve her. But on that I stand my ground.

  7. I think Pagan parenting naturally involves teaching your children things, but leaving what they do up to them.
    This is why I am unsure whether to mix Judaism in with my practices (which I am interested in), because taking my children to synagogue every week would be a very different parenting style.

  8. I cannot imagine raising my (future) children without involving them in my faith. I do spells all the time - while cooking, while cleaning, ... it is who I am, and I couldn't come up with a way to not involve them. I've got my altar on open display, witchy stuff all around the apartment, and I think much of the Pagan ideals I base my everyday life on are good moral foundation.

    Consider it this way: A child born into your family is born here for a certain reason, and the Pagan surroundings are most likely part of those reasons. As long as the children are still encouraged to follow their own path...

  9. So nice to find your blog & what a timely post.

    I just helped create & lead a Samhain ritual which was designed & "worked" by the children. The event was precipitated by several of us getting our panties in a bunch over our public group's decision to hold an 18+ Samhain ritual. I was fully supportive of offering a formal dumb supper, however, children are an important part of community (& adults w/o childcare were excluded). We compromised & had two Samhain events, one for the adults & another the following day for the youth. It turned out to be a perfect combination, especially for the adults, helping them transition out of the weight of the dumb supper the previous evening.

    I think most Pagan parents grapple with whether or not, or how much to expose of their religion to their children. (I do.) This is fair, especially since so many Pagans came from an upbringing where they felt religion was forced. But I think we need to ask ourselves: If we do not share or encourage our own religion(s) with our children, will we forever be a religion(s) of converts? If so, are we comfortable with that?

    At yesterday's event, all the children were offered the *opportunity* to participate, some did, some did not. They were *all* assured their choice was the right one. (They were also told they could also change their mind at any time.)

    The focus of the ritual was on the elementals & the changing seasons, not the gods or spirits, ancestors, etc. It was designed this way to engage them in a concrete celebration of the natural world. The event was fun, earthy & entirely about the kids.

    Our community is very diverse & includes Asatru/Heathens, Hellenics, Vedics, Druids, Wiccans, Witches, Pantheists, Discordians & all sorts of other permutations of Paganism. I am sure that each child's parent/s have differing feelings about how & to what extent to share, or not share religion. With so many diverse paths, we need to focus on *shared values.*

    What we all share is a reverence for our natural world. This is the part, as a community, that we can engender in the children without ambivalence. The values of caring for our planet & being aware of the cycles of nature are basic. I feel we can give this to the children without fear of feeling like proselytisers. It is the role of every parent to instill core values, would this not be one?

  10. All five of my children are brought up in our openly faith filled household. Not all of them share our faith. Primarily they are well informed on all faiths as their ages allow, open minded and tolerant.
    As long as those 3 boxes are ticked I don't really care what anyone else thinks.



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