It is my belief that children need to be taught spirituality and which path is taught is generally the path that the parents follow. If you follow a Wiccan path then teaching Wicca to your children is appropriate, if you follow a Christian path then teaching your children Christianity is appropriate. Does this mean that other religions or spiritual paths should be ignored? No. What it means is – you raise your children with the idea that there is a Divine Source from which all things flow; that there is something that connects all living beings. As that child matures you may then open the door to other paths so that the adolescent can experience other forms of spirituality and choose his path for himself. Children should understand that there are religions and spiritual paths that are different from theirs however, I believe that they first need to understand what their family believes. It is easy for them to become confused when there is a large amount of information being given to them.
So what is the role of children in a pagan family? Are they obedient slaves? Are they “seen and not heard”? Do they keep their opinions to themselves? Do they respect authority without question? And as pagans if we “spare the rod do we spoil the child”?
One of my Wiccan tenets state that “The Divine is connected to and is part of all living things and all life is sacred.” This means that every living, breathing thing has within itself Divine Energy. Me. You. And our children. With this in mind, I realize that all living beings deserve the same respect that I would give directly to the God and Goddess (The Divine); Gaia (Mother Earth), pets, friends, co-workers, neighbors and all other humans (strangers included) and most certainly my children – that which is of my own flesh and blood.
So I see nothing wrong in asking my child if they would like to go on a family vacation and where is it they would like to go. I see nothing inherently wrong with asking if they are okay with Mom or Dad going on a date without them. I think that it is very important for children to feel as if they have a respected opinion on the day to day activities of their family. They are in fact a valued part of it. I don’t view this as asking permission instead I view it as communication. If the child has a negative emotion in connection to what Mom and Dad have planned then this is the opportune time to investigate why that is occurring. It opens the door to healthy relationships within the family. It creates harmony and peace and nurtures love.
Now please understand that I am by no means advocating that children need no guidance. I am a parent of two wonderful, intelligent and compassionate children and comprehend that children need boundaries and guidance in order to feel protected, valued and loved. What I am saying is that they flourish when shown attention and interest. They need to have authority and liberty over some aspects of their lives even if it is only what color underwear they will wear that day. We can learn a lot from our children. They keep us fresh and young. They remind us to be happy and playful.
Will the child who is given such freedom be the child that commits parental abuse when they’re older? Of course not! The child who is shown attention and respect, the child who is valued and love, the child who is taught to respect herself and others because she knows that we are all connected and sacred beings will be the child to lead others to love. That child will be the counselor, the nurse, the mid-wife, the doula, the spiritual leader – the avatar. The child who is pushing their Mother in front of an advancing city bus at eight years old is the one who was hit and “slapped silly” and neglected because Mom had more important things to do then to spend the day with her son. That is the child who came home to an empty house every week day and was shipped off to his Father’s house every weekend to play with children he didn’t know. Or perhaps he was the boy who was parked in front of a TV screen or PC monitor whenever he wasn’t in school. He was the neglected. The disrespected. The under valued. She is the child who comes to my home and smiles when I pay her a compliment and asks what book she’s reading or what her favorite subject is in school.
The moral? Children are sacred beings that deserve our respect, attention and love. They chose to be born to us. We should ask them their opinions because they have opinions. We should teach them about value, love and respect by showing them. We should lead by example.