Thursday, June 26, 2014

Explaining god to children

Teaching children about god, can be a complex situation. I have my beliefs, my husband has his, and our child has not yet developed her own idea's on the subject. The definition of god or gods has different meaning to different belief systems and religions throughout the world. The most recognizable definition of god in this part of the world, is a singular, supernatural, omnipotent, omnipresent, often depicted as masculine and credited for the literal creation of everything.

My husband and I decided as a family our child should be allow to find her own spiritual path, but simply expecting her to find her own beliefs without any guidance can cause her to simply reject spirituality. I'm not against my child following a secular path, but I want that to be HER choice, not just something she has always known. Right now my daughter is a preschooler and hasn't even uttered the word god yet.

Unitarian Universalism
One way I found some help in introducing spirituality to my child is the Unitarian Universalist Church. This is great if you don't mind going to services, which can give your family a sense of community and belonging. Unitarian Universalis are extremely open to pagans and even provided CUUPS The Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans.
Unitarian Universalist go by seven principles

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
2nd Principle: Justice, equality and compassion in human relations;
3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Another plus, they host a coffee hour after service. This is a great way to meet new people and allow your children to play with other children. Most congregations have play areas for children.

If you like the Unitarian Universalist idea, but can't make it on Sunday, try out other programs they offer on other days of the week. If there isn't a Unitarian Universalist location near by you or that order near by may be too conservative, you have ways to bring theses concepts into your home. You can hang up the seven principles in your home and try to remember them and keep to them. Teach your children theses principles by talking about them and living by them. Another advantage is the world wide web. You can join Unitarian Universalist chat boards, read and write blogs and watch videos from different congregations world wide web.
Symbols of faith pt 1
Symbols of faith pt 2
Symbols of faith pt 3

Liberal Quakers
I have also heard of liberal Quakers. I admit I have no personal experience with them but I found this video to be interesting
What does George Fox Say?

A great source of spirituality and discipline. The concepts of Buddhism is a basic ground of philosophy and it can help you learn to train yourself spiritually to meditate and contempt.
I'm not sure how child appeasing Buddhist temples are, I attended a Buddhist service at the Unitarian Universalist Church. However I brought Buddhism into my home. With small children you may simply want to play Buddhist meditation music to them, especially if you are trying to clam them down. You may want to try yoga with your child. You can go online to learn exercises and discipline methods, for most ages. This would be a great time to spend time with your kids, while providing both physical and mental stimulation. Please be careful and make sure all involved are healthy enough to do the exercise. Remember there is always another exercise.

Children Books can be a great source for spirituality, without drilling a belief system into your children heads. The books I choose for spiritual lessons often encourage community, family, making difficult decisions, building of character, dealing with hardships by healthy means, encourages appreciation of life, etc...

One Naked Baby
By Maggie Smith
Ages 0-3 years

The Legend of the Bluebonnet
Retold by Tomie dePaola
Ages 4-8 years

The Moon's Revenge
By Joan Aiken
Ages 7 and up

I put the link from Amazon for these books, not for you to buy them, but feel free if you want to, but so you can read the description and reviews from other parents.

Music is a great way to bring spirituality to a child. Meditation music is great to help children claim down, go to sleep or meditate. However don't over look nursery rhymes.

One night my husband caught my daughter seeking into our back yard at night, so she could sing " Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to the sky. Something we didn't teach her to do. She sang her song, said good night to her daddy, the cat's and the night sky, then went to bed.

I don't care if my child ends up believing in one god, multiple gods, spirits, energy magic, prayer or a rejection of all of the above.
Maybe she will develop an interest in astronomy. Regardless, however she makes sense of life, my ultimate goal is for her to be happy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Every day I wake up and make my little girl breakfast. In the mist of cooking scramble eggs, digging out a package of yogurt in the back of the refrigerator and chasing my kid down to get her dressed, what is unique about us isn't necessarily obvious.
My husband and I both actively play a role in our child's education, her play time, her friends and every activity she is involved in this point, at the tender age of three. We aren't unlike most families. I work, my husband is struggling to gain employment in this economy. We share in household chores, feed our cats, endless errands from dropping off time sheets to food shopping, maybe catch a few hours at the playground. We are like many families of today and not too different from families of the past. However, we aren't considered traditional, we are a pagan family. 

In junior high school I discovered wicca, an earth based religion. Unlike my spouse, my family didn't push the Christian religion onto me, so I was free to openly explore my new found faith. At this time, very few new age, pagan, wiccan families were visible. Some families would hide behind a more mainstream religion, claim to be nonreligious or some families would hide their spiritual practices from their own children. I as a teenager wasn't afraid to be out and open. I wore my pentagram proudly and read Scott Cunningham introduction to Wicca, anywhere I damn well pleased.

Twenty years later and what many thought was a teen fad, was still an active role in my spiritual life. My husband and I didn't have a Christian or secular wedding. We had a rather in your face pagan ceremony and wedding. When our daughter was born, names like Mary and Christine weren't even considered. We chose a pagan first and middle name. We wouldn't allow family to pressure us to raise our child with their religious traditions, but that lead to a new problem? What traditions as pagans are we going to give our child?  

How do we balance between our own paths, while giving our child guidance without hindering her personal freedoms?
Which traditions from our personal past and experience do we pass on? Then of course how do find the energy to find something age appropriate to involve our child in these new and old traditions. 

I'm a pagan parent. I'm not a phase. I'm not going away. I'm apart of society and so is my child. My child may not be the first to be raised pagan, but I intend to raise her openly while practicing my spirituality and allowing my child to find her own path.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why I refused to baptize my child

It's not a big deal, so I have been told. Just a sprinkle of water on your babies head, no harm done.

Or is there? My husband and I are both pagans but his parents are Roman Catholic As pagans we try to mix ancient tradition while creating new traditions. Which is why we celebrated our child's birth with a naming ceremony from the Unitarian Universalist church.

To my in-laws baptism is essential, a strongly held tradition which we were the first to break. I have been asked why I didn't just have the ceremony to make his family happy and have them off our back. To keep the tradition and the image of being Catholic. 

Yet there are many reasons why I'm against this action being done to children. Although I can't prevent people from baptizing their children, I'm able to protect my child from this ceremony and concept. I personally don't believe children should be committed to a religion, when they themselves are not able to understand what that religion is. I feel it is wrong to assume that the child is going to practice the faith of their parents and take away choices that should be the individual's to make. To join a church, a religion or to rid one self of original sin are all decisions I feel should be made by an informed and willing adult.

With that alone, is enough for me, but some people may still feel tempted to give in to traditions and family pressures. However this isn't respecting the Christian tradition. The Catholic church takes educating children into their tradition very seriously. To have a baptism of my child, my husband and I would be required to flat out lie to a priest. I know I wasn't converting or my husband returning to Catholicism, something we  would be 
expected when raising a "Catholic" child. We would have to assure the priest we would see to it that our child attend their religious education programs and have our child receive the sacrament of communion and confirmation. We however knew this was not an option for our family. So in order to have a priest preform the ceremony, we would have to lie. I ask myself, what would this teach my child about Catholicism? That it's okay to lie to their clergy, for a short ceremony to appease family. 

It isn't just the forced religious commitment and lying to the Catholic clergy, but the very concept of baptism I find personally offensive. As pagans my husband and I reject the Christian notion of original sin. Original sin is the sexual act of conception, which the church believe can and should be washed away though the sacrament of baptism. The idea that sex is sinful, is negative and unhealthy. My husband and I at the time of our child's conception, welcomed each other of our own free will. The idea of trying to disassociate a child from the concept at the extreme baptism does, is more appropriate in cases of rape.

Our child was not a product of rape. We felt no need to wash away the idea of how she was conceived. We do not agree with the churches ideals regarding sex. We don't believe sex, masturbation, homosexuality, birth control, etc... are sinful, shameful or wrong. We don't feel this is ethical to raise our child with. 

As an adult our child/ren will know of many forms of Christianity, including Catholicism. What our child/ren will do with the broad education and exposure to multiple beliefs and ideas remains to be seen. Regardless of the belief system they may choose, it will be chosen of their own free will.