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Author Topic: Pagan Children in Public  (Read 3716 times)

NibbleKat

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Pagan Children in Public
« on: September 19, 2012, 03:30:07 pm »
So, recently I went to Pagan Pride Day in Raleigh and was pleasantly surprised at the number of children attending the festival.  There seemed to be more this year than last year, and even though I don't particularly want to ever have children... ever... I do think about things from a semi-parental point of view every once in a while.  Seeing all of those pagan children made me wonder...

...how do these children deal with being pagan in a public setting, especially in a school setting?  In a perfect world, we'd all be able to go to school and talk about whatever deity we worshiped, or what path we followed, etc, etc, but we all know that it's not always possible to do so, because of ignorance encountered by children, teachers, and parents alike who aren't pagan.

I know that not all pagan kids are raised as pagan-- some parents are waiting to let them choose later on in life when they are able to make the decision on their own, but even they must know that their parents are different and are likely to talk about it in school.  "My mommy lights incense and stands at her altar and celebrates Mabon!"

How does a parent instruct their child to speak about their or their parents' faith in public settings?  

If a parent says, "Don't talk about it" because of safety issues, do they tell the child it's for safety reasons? Does that impact the way the child sees the path their parents are following? (As in, "Oh, it must be a naughty/bad thing, since  Daddy says other people might not like it/will get angry/won't understand if I talk about it".)

Older children have a greater capacity to understand why it might not be "okay" to talk about it in some settings,  or why they might get the reactions that they do in school/public if they do talk about it, but what about the younger children who don't know that other people might have problems with what is actually not a problem? How do you say it's okay but "not okay" to be what you are?

Or, if you're fine with a child talking about it in public/non-pagan settings, how do you deal with that?

(And I am not in any way saying that it's not okay for a child to be raised pagan or say that they're pagan, or am I advocating that they should be secretive or silent or fearful about saying they are -- but it's not a perfect world, and sometimes, they might have to be.)
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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2012, 04:53:30 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74493

How does a parent instruct their child to speak about their or their parents' faith in public settings?  

 
I genuinely have no experience with living somewhere in which it was considered appropriate to discuss religion in public settings in the first place.

It was never mentioned as tacky, it just never came up as a subject.  (It genuinely only occurred to me as an adult to connect the crucifixes decorating with one of my friends' houses with the fact that I heard that her parents disowned their son (one of my mother's students) for being gay, and it took me a couple years to make that connection.)  I don't talk about religion in small-talk level conversations because it has never in my life been appropriate to do so.

I can't say it's a total non-issue, but frankly as things to worry about go there's a long list of things that I'd worry about first.
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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2012, 05:05:55 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74493
How does a parent instruct their child to speak about their or their parents' faith in public settings?  

If a parent says, "Don't talk about it" because of safety issues, do they tell the child it's for safety reasons? Does that impact the way the child sees the path their parents are following? (As in, "Oh, it must be a naughty/bad thing, since  Daddy says other people might not like it/will get angry/won't understand if I talk about it".)

 
I mean, while I wasn't raised pagan, I was raised a witch, and that was my mother's strategy:  she said if I told anyone what she did people would burn us at the stake, and she was speaking in all seriousness.
I kept quiet, sure, but mostly it just freaked tiny me out:  don't talk about this whole aspect of the world or people will murder your mom and maybe your whole family.  Still, though, I never got the notion that we were doing something bad, just something that might make people want to hurt us.

There's got to be a nicer way to talk to kids about discretion, anyhow.
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NibbleKat

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2012, 05:49:35 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;74497
I genuinely have no experience with living somewhere in which it was considered appropriate to discuss religion in public settings in the first place.

It was never mentioned as tacky, it just never came up as a subject.  (It genuinely only occurred to me as an adult to connect the crucifixes decorating with one of my friends' houses with the fact that I heard that her parents disowned their son (one of my mother's students) for being gay, and it took me a couple years to make that connection.)  I don't talk about religion in small-talk level conversations because it has never in my life been appropriate to do so.

I can't say it's a total non-issue, but frankly as things to worry about go there's a long list of things that I'd worry about first.

 
So, no one at all told you not to talk about it?

Were you raised as a Christian or something else?   I think it might be one thing to just sort of assimilate into say, kindergarten going along with all of the traditional holidays like Christmas, having already been raised as a Christian, as opposed to being a six-year-old who wants to make friends and starts talking about Mabon, for instance.

Also, where were you raised?
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NibbleKat

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2012, 05:52:55 pm »
Quote from: Valentine;74500
I mean, while I wasn't raised pagan, I was raised a witch, and that was my mother's strategy:  she said if I told anyone what she did people would burn us at the stake, and she was speaking in all seriousness.
I kept quiet, sure, but mostly it just freaked tiny me out:  don't talk about this whole aspect of the world or people will murder your mom and maybe your whole family.  Still, though, I never got the notion that we were doing something bad, just something that might make people want to hurt us.

There's got to be a nicer way to talk to kids about discretion, anyhow.


Yeah, that's one of those things I'm curious about; do folks still scare their children into not talking?

When were you born?

I was born in '76.  I graduated high school in '95-- I remember a guy in HS who was completely ostracised for being "a satanist," when he in reality was a Zoroastrian.  Still to this day, I've never met another Zoroastrian, but back then in very rural NC? He was "scary".  And we were technically at the age of being able to be rational about things, to question before judging, etc, but still, as 15 and 16 year olds, we still were not as open as we could have been... it was bad.
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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2012, 06:01:51 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74511
I was born in '76.  I graduated high school in '95-- I remember a guy in HS who was completely ostracised for being "a satanist," when he in reality was a Zoroastrian.  Still to this day, I've never met another Zoroastrian, but back then in very rural NC? He was "scary".


Born in '74, graduated HS in '92.  I was "a satanist"(and/or gay) because I wore lots of black and listened to Depeche Mode.  (WTF, right?)  
Might be a good idea for kids to keep non-mainstream beliefs under wraps.  Kids, teens especially, can be mercilessly cruel.
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Sharysa

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2012, 06:02:23 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74493
Older children have a greater capacity to understand why it might not be "okay" to talk about it in some settings,  or why they might get the reactions that they do in school/public if they do talk about it, but what about the younger children who don't know that other people might have problems with what is actually not a problem? How do you say it's okay but "not okay" to be what you are?

I'd say something like "People might make fun of you, but it's not because you're wrong--it's because you're different. Be careful who you talk to about [insert deity/path]." Personally, I'd like the idea of kids talking about their various gods/ancestral-spirits without a problem. But even in the Bay, there's more of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy going on because we have such a high amount of Christians.

Quote
Or, if you're fine with a child talking about it in public/non-pagan settings, how do you deal with that?

See my above response.

Personally, my main worry would be if people dismiss/mistake the gods as my kid's imaginary friends. That would have major potential for the kid to get hurt and go "My gods can beat up yours!"

And we all know that's the (very simplified) cornerstone of Christianity, which also happens to be the major world religion.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 06:03:27 pm by Sharysa »
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Juni

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2012, 06:05:54 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74509
So, no one at all told you not to talk about it?

Were you raised as a Christian or something else?   I think it might be one thing to just sort of assimilate into say, kindergarten going along with all of the traditional holidays like Christmas, having already been raised as a Christian, as opposed to being a six-year-old who wants to make friends and starts talking about Mabon, for instance.

Also, where were you raised?

 
Not Kiya, obviously, but I was raised in CT and religion was just not something we talked about in polite conversation.

Personally, I was raised areligious- my mother actually made a strenuous effort to keep *any* religion out of my life. So when people made religious references around me, and they inevitably went over my head, we veered into uncomfortable conversation zones as they tried to explain things to me without edging into 'rude' territory.
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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2012, 06:28:45 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;74497
I genuinely have no experience with living somewhere in which it was considered appropriate to discuss religion in public settings in the first place.

It was never mentioned as tacky, it just never came up as a subject.  (It genuinely only occurred to me as an adult to connect the crucifixes decorating with one of my friends' houses with the fact that I heard that her parents disowned their son (one of my mother's students) for being gay, and it took me a couple years to make that connection.)  I don't talk about religion in small-talk level conversations because it has never in my life been appropriate to do so.

I can't say it's a total non-issue, but frankly as things to worry about go there's a long list of things that I'd worry about first.

 
I'm in this boat. I have never been in a public pre-college school that allowed anyone to talk about their religion on the premises (separation of school and church). In other activities (sports, gaming, whatever), beliefs are not something you just randomly bring up.

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2012, 06:32:00 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74509
So, no one at all told you not to talk about it?

Were you raised as a Christian or something else?   I think it might be one thing to just sort of assimilate into say, kindergarten going along with all of the traditional holidays like Christmas, having already been raised as a Christian, as opposed to being a six-year-old who wants to make friends and starts talking about Mabon, for instance.

Also, where were you raised?

 
I was raised largely areligious in a Christian context by New Englanders in Maryland.

Apparently at one point the neighbors talked to my parents about their concerns that I was being raised as "a little heathen", but nobody ever talked to me about it.  I wound up being asked if I wanted to go to church with my neighbors or the friend, which led me pretty directly to agnosticism.  (Well, first it led me to "NOT CATHOLICISM".  The Catholic parish was very conservative in a way that was tremendously intimidating to an unchurched child.  When I described the building to Jenett she immediately told me it had been built in the fifties.)

When we moved to a different location, the first time religion came up was about ... maybe five years later when a friend lent me The Truth About Witchcraft Today.

My social circles are actively weird to me (even the meatspace ones) because they actively contain a number of devout people who are explicitly known to be devout.  (They also contain a number of atheists who are explicitly known to be atheists.)  I genuinely take my knowledge of this kind as a mark of intimacy.
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Vale

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2012, 06:50:47 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;74497
I genuinely have no experience with living somewhere in which it was considered appropriate to discuss religion in public settings in the first place.

It was never mentioned as tacky, it just never came up as a subject.  

I can't say it's a total non-issue, but frankly as things to worry about go there's a long list of things that I'd worry about first.


Pretty much this.

I was brought up in Sri Lanka.  I attended a Catholic ( despite not being Catholic) convent but  I had friends who were Catholic, Shinto, Theravāda Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu as well as some form of Christian.  Religion was simply not discussed.

My own (non-Catholic) children went to Catholic schools here in the UK.  The fact that they were not Catholic was the only thing that mattered to the schools.  They were excused Mass etc. What they were was never an issue - in fact a large proportion of their class mates were Muslim or Taoist.
 
Around here (South West UK) the local pagan group parents meet regularly with their children and children are welcome at the local open rituals.

NibbleKat

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2012, 07:16:11 pm »
Quote from: Vale;74521
Pretty much this.

I was brought up in Sri Lanka.  I attended a Catholic ( despite not being Catholic) convent but  I had friends who were Catholic, Shinto, Theravāda Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu as well as some form of Christian.  Religion was simply not discussed.

My own (non-Catholic) children went to Catholic schools here in the UK.  The fact that they were not Catholic was the only thing that mattered to the schools.  They were excused Mass etc. What they were was never an issue - in fact a large proportion of their class mates were Muslim or Taoist.
 
Around here (South West UK) the local pagan group parents meet regularly with their children and children are welcome at the local open rituals.


I am actually interested in hearing from parents on this subject -- have any of the ones you've been around said anything about what I'm asking?
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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2012, 02:51:22 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;74517
I was raised largely areligious in a Christian context by New Englanders in Maryland.


I think the not-talking-about-religion thing maybe be particular to the Eastern Seaboard.  Back home, it was poor manners in some circles to ask which particular church you attended, but it was very common to talk about religion, if you were a Christian, and to witness about it, to invite people to your church, and so on.  (It may be that there is a very strong evangelical presence back home--the Methodists and Lutherans and Episcopalians and Catholics were much quieter on the matter.)  In my public high school, frankly you were socially impaired to a great degree if you didn't attend the right Bible study group, and Christian faith at least was a standard topic of discussion all the time.  It may be how homogeneous the environment was, with the town's, like, five Jews being very quiet about it, and no visible presence of Hindus, Muslims, or Sikhs?  There were a handful of New Agey folks, a couple of neopagan families, basically Wiccan in flavor, one of whom ran the witchy shop and one of whom was closeted.
I've heard the truism about not talking politics or religion in public, but it was never true where I grew up.

Quote

My social circles are actively weird to me (even the meatspace ones) because they actively contain a number of devout people who are explicitly known to be devout.  (They also contain a number of atheists who are explicitly known to be atheists.)  I genuinely take my knowledge of this kind as a mark of intimacy.

 
I think my social circles are probably skewed beyond help by being full of seminarians and clergy.  We're all publicly devout.
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Valentine

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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2012, 02:53:59 am »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74511
Yeah, that's one of those things I'm curious about; do folks still scare their children into not talking?

When were you born?

 
I was born in 1982, and grew up primarily in the rural Pacific Northwest, on the cowboy side rather than the rainforest side of the mountains.  My dad hides that he's Jewish so he won't lose business, if that's a helpful pointer.
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Re: Pagan Children in Public
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2012, 03:31:23 am »
Quote from: NibbleKat;74525
I am actually interested in hearing from parents on this subject -- have any of the ones you've been around said anything about what I'm asking?

 
My daughter is currently at a Catholic primary school and, to be perfectly honest, they have been absolutely brilliant with both my daughter and myself even though they are very well aware of my being a Witch, my husband being agnostic and my daughter leaning towards being an ecclectic Pagan. They never pressure her, they always listen to what she has to say and they encourage her to think. All they ask is that she considers their faith too.

Paganism is discussed freely in my home, but it isn't something we go shouting in the streets about. Freedom of faith is very important to me. People can follow whatever faith they choose, as long as they don't try to convert me and mine. Religion is not a general subject of discussion in public over here.
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