In spite of making your intentions quite clear and despite their apparent "acceptance," once you've made the "announcement" to your family that you'll be raising you children in your non-Christian faith, it still not uncommon to experience a little backlash. This can come about in a variety of forms, but in the case of my family, this comes about in two main forms: denial, and "well-meaning" subtle sabotage.
As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, my mother has suddenly manifested concern over my children's spiritual well being. Although she has yet to ask the more logical question of why the children haven't been baptized yet (maybe she does remember that we're not Christian...) she has suggested that I enroll them in Sunday School -for the socialization. I'd politely blown that off, but it did continue for a while with my sister (13 years old, obviously still living at home,) insisting that every time we were around on Sundays, that the kids should go to church with them.
Since then, my mother has taken to giving the kids small storybooks. Nothing wrong with that, we're all avid readers, even little Aurora who'll be two in just a few short weeks (insert mommy sigh of sadness here.) But all of the books have been either Bible stories or based upon Christian values. Here is how we've been presenting these books to the children in a way that respects the faith presented in these books as well as our own.
First off, these are great stories! There's adventure, guys being swallowed by giant fish, and not to mention talking animals and plants. There's really no reason not to share these stories with your little Pagan children. Just treat them as mythology. Use these stories as a teaching opportunity to introduce your kids to other religions, to other belief systems, and explanations of why things are the way they are.
We recently got "The Story of Jonah." Before reading it to my eldest (5 years old,) I asked him if he remembered how we talked about how not everyone believes in the same Gods and things that we do, that there are different religions, and that this story is one of the legends for the Christian religion. Then I reminded him of the basics of Christianity (just as I do when we read legends and stories of other religions, i.e. before we read about Thor we talk about the Tree of Life and the three planes of existence, before we read about the creation of Fire and the Stars we talk about who the Aborigines are,) and I point out not just the differences but the similarities as well (I've no intentions of creating views of separatism in my children: we are all people, we are all part of the same global community, and we all need to recognize and act upon this fact.)
Christian Value Stories
I see nothing wrong with teaching children Christian values. What's wrong with teaching children to share, or to be thankful, or to appreciate the people around them? Plus, as these values are often carefully hidden behind drawings of cute little bunnies, it's not that hard to "reword" certain parts of the story, transforming the book into a Pagan Values Story.
For example, one of my daughter's favorite books right now is a called "Good Night, Sleepyhead." It follows a little bear through her bedtime routine, including a scene where the little bear prays at the side of her bed with her parents. The caption reads: "I kneel beside my bed to pray./ I thank God for the blessings He gave me today." We reword this simple verse as follows: "I kneel beside my bed to pray.? I thank the Gods for the blessings They gave me today." Ta da. Monotheist story easily transformed into a polytheist story that my daughter can relate to because we pray to the Gods every night, too.
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Throwing the Bones
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