I continue to be disappointed by the lack of interest in spiritual education for the children of the Pagan community. In response to my queries to Pagan parenting, I am most often given the same responses:
I do not wish to force religion upon my child as I feel that it was forced on me.
Children do not have the capacity to understand religion.
I feel compelled to counter those statements with my own experience. While it is true, children are not adults and their life experience is much more limited than an adults, I know that children are capable of understanding a multitude of concepts. Just yesterday my own son made an interesting observation that helped me in my own spiritual journey. He said, "If there is more than one planet, then there must be more than one god." I am reminded of the expression, "out of the mouths of babes..." My son has added to the richness of my life in many ways but he has taught me about spiritually. He has introduced me to fairies and has discussed with me reincarnation. He is not John Micheal Greer or Ghandi to be sure, but his simplitic communication does not make his contributions any less pleasureable or profound. Many people assume that paganism and witchcraft are synomous, as one that rarely practices magic or divination I would disagree. My son, however has taught me much of magic, he sees it everywhere. He reminds me that indeed life itself is innately magical...or miraculous should you prefer the term.
Now the possiblity for children to misunderstand their religion, or rather to see it in black and white terms is rather probable. I absolutely refused to send my child to a Catholic school despite the declining educational standards of the public venues. It is not because I am against the Christian religion. I feel that it has beauty and truth within it. I would not under any circumstances submit my child to the bullying of a unexperienced child who would at some point say to my child "you're mommy worships the devil and she's going to hell!" Actually, I will most likely end up in the relm called Hades and despite the Christian mingling of the mythos of that place, it isn't even remotely like the hell associated with Christianity. Incidentally, the word hell comes from the name of a Norse Goddess, Hel. Her kingdom is similar to Hades and once again nothing like the Christian hell relm. But, I digress. What is interesting though that it is only a fear of mine that another child will bully my child in this manner; the truth is that this has already been said to me by adults.
Ironically, my son came home one day rather shocked that one of his friends thought all witches were ugly and evil. He then explained that he and his mommy were witches. His friends were impressed to learn that not all witches were in fact ugly (they think I'm pretty, how sweet) and that witches could be boys! Then they rationalize that since my son, who is their friend, and decidedly not evil, and is a witch then all witches were in fact not evil. Cool lesson, on to legos. Incidentally, I do not refer to myself as a witch and Harry Potter is a wizard, so I have no idea where my son got that terminology. I have simply accepted that it is a label that currently has meaning to my son.
My son has spiritual questions and he does need guidance concerning his interaction with people and concepts of ethics and morality. My religion gives me a way to put into words thes rather undefinable concepts. Additionally religion as a whole brings its followers a sense of peace, hope and inspiration. Why on earth would deprive my child of something that brings me so much joy? It just seems cruel. I am baffled by Pagan parents who deny their children the benefits of their religion. Even more bizzare, after someone has finished telling me that they came to Paganism after a damaging childhood experience in another, they then in the next breath proceed to tell me that their own children go to religious services with their parents...because they as parents do not want to "force religion upon their children as it was forced upon them."
Umm...so your answer is to subject your child to the same religion that hurt you so, with the very same people who forced you to submit to it?
I don't buy it.
In my opinion, these people fear their own Pagan religion and do not accept it as a viable religious path.