The links to the first part is here and the link to the second is here.
The last couple of issues get kinda hairy. To each their own, live and let live. I’m going to share my personal perspective, but that neither makes it right or the only way to do things.
Sexuality, the divine, and relationships, OH MY!
This is another one of those topics I had never thought of until reading this article. So let’s be frank. Most of us have exceedingly unique views on sexuality and relationships. We, as a general whole, tend to be more honest about nudity and sex. There are those among us who pursue alternative lifestyles including, but not limited to polyamory, which can put us in a sticky situation when our children start asking about sex. Or when others at some point share their views on the topic.
Not only must we determine what we personally believe is right and wrong, but we must also, once again, explain that everyone has a right to their opinion. In addition, we have to walk the fine line between too little and too much information. We don’t want to get into too many details trying to offset sexual taboos. Depending on your child they may not benefit from that information at the time.
While I know not everyone would agree, my parents raised me in a very open manner. We watched some adult content. Nothing explicit, but I was advised to ask any questions I had afterwards. My parents thought that it was important to not shield me from any more than they absolutely had to so that I would be prepared for the world. There were still moments I ended up being naive despite even their best efforts. Their general policy was that if I had the intelligence to ask a question, then I had the right to an intelligent answer to that question.
The best example of this that I can give occurred when I asked where babies come from. My parents didn’t want to give me some useless tale about storks. I was in the second grade and when I asked the question, I had made the point that birds delivering babies didn’t make sense, or so I’m told. I don’t really remember. My parents answer was to explain that when a mommy and daddy love each other things happen (glossed over details) and then the baby grew inside of the mommy for nine months. Then we rented a video on pregnancy and childbirth.
Now, I know not all kids that age could handle that scenario and that not all parents would be comfortable with giving even that much information, but you have to determine that based on your own comfort with the topic, your child’s readiness/comprehension and their age. You also have to take into consideration how you want them to perceive you later. Do you want to tell part of the truth and have them perceive you as cautious and protective, or do you want to tell them a complete fairy tale and possibly have them not trust you for information later? Once again, it’s your choice and there are many shades of grey in between and outside of those two answers.
In the Beginning…?
Mythology concerning the creation of the universe has been an important part of human development since the dawn of man. How do you explain it? Once again there are no easy answers and a bit of soul searching may be necessary. We,as parents have to consider how we are going to explain the following: how the universe and humanity came to be, if humanity/the individual has a purpose or destiny, and how the concept of free will plays into that. It’s going to come up at some point, so make sure you are prepared. That way your children don’t get blindsided by the question later.
As a general rule, we have a ton of views that may differ from the rest of society. From homosexuality to class, gender, race, transgenderism, war, the death penalty, abortion, drugs, sex and pregnancy, ect. and our children are going to be asking us to help them out of the murky waters and toward answers on these topics. None of these are easy topics and there are many more that aren’t even covered here. We will be forced to explain why we believe as we do.
Freedom of Belief
This last one relates to an attitude. Another issue I had never thought of, but one that is important. However, the author and I disagree on some of the finer points of this topic as you will see later. The author starts by addressing an attitude that he/she has seem among many pagans. They attribute it to the politicization of paganism by different individuals and groups and to an extent the author is correct.
While there is a strong political tradition in modern paganism as an attempt to protect our rights, it is a mistake to suggest or imply that paganism is tied to any one political or philosophical agenda. Among our ranks we have a variety of political views and despite how any of them may feel about one another, they are still pagan. Paganism is not about politics, which is a sore spot that I feel gets people of any religion into trouble at some junctions. We are a nation that is supposed to have a separation of church and state, which is a very fine line indeed.
It is important to have your faith color your politics, but it is wrong to use your faith as a political tool, no matter how righteous your cause or intention. I have seen this occur in schools as prayer is banned to supposedly promote diversity. Yes, I don’t want my children forced to participate, but if the city or school is predominantly one religion I really have no issue with the majority being able to pray at a football game while the child of another faith sits it out. The minority should never tear down the majority, a problem I see in many facets and spheres of our nations politics.
From here the author of the original article and I diverge. Let me explain. The author claims that letting your child be exposed to other beliefs and letting them make their own choice is yet another facet of the politicization of paganism. On that I do not agree. Yes, I personally intend to raise my child in my faith, but I see no harm in exposing them to the alternatives, because I see all the paths (so long as they are based in love, peace, trust and compassion) as different little rivers all leading to the same ocean. However, that is my perspective and I still live by the mantra of live and let live as much as humanly possibly.
I do agree though, that all ethics and general religious philosophies, theologies, etc. should be taught by parents before someone else teaches your children. Because it is true that if you don’t teach them, then someone else will and who knows what they will teach them. I think the author makes the mistake of assuming that by exposing our children to other religions that we are neglecting or refusing to teach our child our own faith. All we are doing is respecting their freedom to choose as we did once we reached adulthood.
My intention is to be a part of any introduction my child has to any other religious system. That way I can explain how it differs from my own and help them to find the answers to the questions that they may have after those experiences. It all comes down to parental involvement in the end. You can expose your children to other beliefs without alienating them from your own as long as you are involved in those experiences.
While I do believe that there is no true path, I do believe that all of us probably have at least something wrong with our faith in one way or another. At the end of the day everyone can’t be perfectly right, but none of us are going to know until its all over anyway, and that is something that we need to address with our children. I do not however believe that it is ever appropriate to tell your children that Christianity is wrong, even with reasons, as the author proposes. I feel like this falls into the category of the pot calling the kettle black, or hypocrisy.
In the end, there is a very fine line between sharing your faith and indoctrination. You have to be responsible in what you say to your children and I find the author’s statement on that subject very irresponsible. It all comes down to being able to explain why someone ( and in particular you) believes as they do, to your children. The author is right that they are going to come and ask and we owe them a valid argument for our faith if we want them to remain open to it, but we must choose our words very wisely. We must examine our motivations very carefully so that we do not end up crossing that line into indoctrination either.
There are many paths and many ways to practice this religion by ourselves and even with our children or families. But we have to be ready to answer their questions when they arise and to be solid in our own beliefs so that we can do just that. We are the the educational force behind the future of our own faith, families, and beliefs. We have to defend them without crossing the same lines that other churches or individuals have in other religions and that most likely others in our religion have already crossed.
It is up to us to provide the meat of our discussions so that our children fully understand why we do what we do, and those answers are within us now. We have to avoid thin answers because that and political agendas appear to be what drove most of us first generation pagans into the fold. I know it was with me. I got tired of answers like the bible told me so, because I said so, and once again, my personal favorite, so you don’t go to hell.
If we want to build our foundation on that of the old and to continue to grow, we have to be able to answer these and many more questions. We will help build the future. What kind of future do you want to build for your faith?