Why do you want to force your beliefs upon your children? How could you possibly want to bring your children up in a faith that so many hold so much hate against? Don’t you think you’re asking for trouble? What will the other kids in school say? What, do you think their teachers won’t notice that pretty little star around their neck? Why would you want to isolate your children like that? You know you’re being selfish, right?
When people find out you choose to Pagan Parent, they almost always respond with something along the lines of the above paragraph, and this comes from fellow Pagans as much as from those of another faith.
I don’t like to repeat myself, though rather than try to rephrase something that I already so eloquently stated, let me just quote a passage from my Bio:
“…perhaps many would take offense to my choosing to raise my children Pagan, but I contend that a life filled with values and traditions brings wholeness to a person. This has been the way of humanity for far longer than we've written proof of it: why now should we stop passing on our ways? A light in the darkness, no matter how small, is better than no light at all.”
It’s gone on long enough, letting our children flounder about, hoping they’ll find their path, hoping they’ll find some sort of faith, some sort of spiritual values with which to guide them through the pits and downfalls that we all must traverse in life. By not giving them any sort of spiritual structure, we set them up to always be searching, to see the worth in every faith, but to never find a reason to commit.
As Pagans, we’re known to speak of the need for community, to embrace and encourage it, yet in the same breath we criticize those who would seek to pass on such values to their young. We chastise them for teaching that which brings us joy to those who are naturally curious and in need of structure, guidance, and values upon which to live their lives, all because we don’t want them to be “oppressed” by religious views, because we don’t want them to be “forced against their will.” But, as parents, isn’t it our job to force our kids sometimes? When they insist that they’re going to run through the house chasing the cat, don’t we force them to stop? Sure, it may be through the means of a simple “stop that,” or maybe as far as banishment to the corner for a few minutes, but in the end, the child was forced to do what we wanted and not what they wanted. How is forcing them to follow family rules and societal laws any different than following spiritual guidelines?
The family rules are what they are to ensure harmony among the members, societal laws are the same, only in a larger sense of societal harmony. The two complement each other: learning the value of family law teaches one to recognize the value in social law. Spiritual laws, those that are provided through a religious framework, serve a similar purpose and further complement the two. Spiritual laws ensure the greatest chance of harmony between the mind, body, and soul. Being a stable, balanced individual allows one to be in greater harmony with those around them, be they family or just that illiterate gas station cashier.
I’m not saying that following a religion makes one a better person, there’s proof enough in the world that this isn’t so. But, what I am saying is that by not sharing the things that we cherish, the things that define who we are and shape our view of the world, we do our children a great disservice.
Throwing the Bones
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